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Gregg Berhalter expects Christian Pulisic to be ready to go against Honduras

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Christian Pulisic will return to U.S. Men’s National Team duty this week off the back of his biggest moment of his club career, and while the Chelsea winger might still be on cloud nine after winning the UEFA Champions League over the weekend, he will be expected to play a lead role in the conclusion of the Concacaf Nations League.

Pulisic comes back into the USMNT fold this week with Gregg Berhalter’s side facing off with Honduras on Thursday in Denver, Colorado. It will be the first competitive match for the Americans since November 2019 and Pulisic’s first overall since friendly wins in March.

The 22-year-old played the final 30 minutes of Chelsea’s 1-0 win over English Premier League rivals Manchester City on Saturday and now makes the just under 5,000-mile trek from Portugal to Colorado. While fatigue is likely to play a factor, Berhalter backs Pulisic to be ready to go in a must-win match this week.

“I mean, you try to tell Christian that he’s not playing on Thursday. It’s going to be a very difficult one,” said Berhalter post match on Sunday after a 2-1 friendly loss to Switzerland. “Coming off of winning the Champions League, coming in the game, making an impact in that game, he’s ready to go. It would be very hard to keep him out of the lineup.”

Pulisic will face Honduras for the third time in his USMNT career with a pair of strong outings against them in the past. The Pennsylvania native registered one goal and three assists in a 6-0 World Cup Qualifying romp back in 2017 before also playing 90 minutes on the road in a 1-1 draw later that year.

Pulisic’s overall numbers at Chelsea may have dipped, but his performances overall in the second half of the season were impressive under Thomas Tuchel. The American star delivered one goal and one assist in the Champions League semifinals victory over Real Madrid while also excelling in the final weeks of the league season.

The USMNT will be banking on Pulisic to lead the American attack that looked like it was missing him in Sunday’s 2-1 friendly loss to Switzerland.

“Christian coming back and being fit and coming off the high of winning the Champions League, I think it’s very important,” McKennie said. “To also be able to bring that mentality over here, because we’re all working towards what they accomplished the other night, and we’re also working to get better.

“When someone wins a trophy, it just helps the group realize that we want to have a winning mentality, that we want to win games and we want to win titles, we want to win trophies. So I think him coming back into the group, we’ll be very happy to have him back and I think he’ll be able to share some of his experiences as well and have it rub off on us.”

Comments

  1. Why would Pulisic not be ready? He played about 20 minutes on Saturday. Meanwhile GB ran the rest of his starters 60 to 90 minutes at altitude a day later. Honestly think some of the boys sandbagged/ took the second half to leave something in the tank knowing how the rest of the week looked- coming into the first meaningful competition in years. Looked that way anyhow. I’m not so sure I’d be a happy player knowing my manager intentionally handicapped me prior to a tourney quarterfinals. I understand his stance as prep for quals but don’t think its prudent… World Cup quals- the other teams will be dealing w/ the same issue of quick turnaround- NL- Honduras and Mexico have been resting on the same continent.

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    • We have a deeper team than ever and while it would be great to win nations league, it is secondary to WCQ coming up. I would have played most of my first team against the Swiss same as Berhalter because there are so few chances to play top 20 teams. We are going to need to rotate guys in WCQ also, so the Honduras game (simulates “middle” game in the new 3 game WCQ window) we will need some second teamers to step up as starters. Besides which, there were some “starters” that didn’t exactly light it up so great chance for the next man up to shine, and earn a spot against Mexico if we win.

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      • I’m not trying to paint this as a tragedy- just think it’s putting undue stress on players is an unnecessary risk- for injuries and in game performance. Starting with our top group was expected- a good idea considering how little time they’ve had together. I’d have substituted out some at the half and again more at 60 minutes. Winning is a habit. Builds team morale, rapport. Going to NL, walking away with hardware should 100% be the goal and IMHO the most important preparation for WCQ… matches that matter. We should handle Honduras if the guys show up ready to work. .. it’s the quick turnaround to Mexico if we get by Honduras that has me concerned. Being that we seem to be emphasizing a high energy, high press- playing in Denver w/ the quick turnaround- we best know when to turn that on and when to turn it off. I just happen to think leaving a player who has been fighting through an injury- that relies on his motor like Mckennie in for the entire match so close to 2 more important matches across the globe wasn’t a great idea.

    • A correction. The game in Switzerland was at 2,200 feet, not exactly altitude. Considering we are playing next in Denver, the mile high city, it actually would have been better if we had played at altitude in Switzerland.

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      • As I pointed out last week the cities in Switzerland aren’t at altitude. St. Gallen is one of the higher stadiums in elevation at least in the top division. Davos would be the biggest with 10,000 pop. at about 5,000 ft but they don’t appear to have a professional club and their pitch looks like a rec. field. Most of the cities in top Euro leagues are at lower elevations. Turin home of Juventus that hosted the Winter Olympics is only 849 ft above sea level. Real Madrid is 2257 ft. Mexico played Iceland in Jerry World elevation 430ft.

  2. “…5,000-mile trek from Portugal to Colorado…” He ain’t walking it; i believe the engines will do the work and the captain will make the decisions.

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    • But then again I think he will be riding in the back of the plane. We need to make things “fair” for the MNT and WNT (no seat upgrades for MNT anymore!). Good thing he is a little fella, he will not have too much leg room problems.

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  3. Honduras is not nearly as good as Switzerland, so we should win, with or without Pulisic. If I were coach I wouldn’t play him the whole game and then be sure he’s okay with playing a full game vs. Mexico.

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