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Christian Pulisic was skillful, selfless and blunt in leading USMNT to impressive win vs. Morocco

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CINCINNATI — Christian Pulisic gave U.S. men’s national team fans reason to be in awe one minute, then a reason to smile with a selfless act the next, and later he capped his night with a harsh assessment of the crowd turnout for the first USMNT match on American soil since the team qualified for the World Cup.

Pulisic stole the show in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Morocco, with a tantalizing sequence leading to the opening USMNT goal, and later by drawing a penalty kick and proceeding to pass the penalty attempt to old friend and national team debutante Haji Wright, who buried the attempt to cap the night’s scoring and give the American fans in attendance a reason to celebrate.

Then came Pulisic’s post-game comments critical of the attendance at what was one of three remaining home games the Americans will play before the World Cup in Qatar in November.

“I’m not super happy with the amount of Americans here, however that works out, if I’m being completely honest,” Pulisic told ESPN in his post-match interview. “But thanks to the ones who did come, and the support is always great from them.”

While some USMNT fans might have taken umbrage with Pulisic’s criticism, they couldn’t criticize his play on the field, which produced another memorable display at the same stadium where he scored against Mexico in World Cup qualifying last November and followed it up with his memorable ‘Man in the Mirror” goal celebration.

“For us, he was coaches Man of the Match today for the way he led with his intensity, but also his play on the field,” Berhalter said of Pulisic. “Great, great assist to Brenden, A number of other chances, got fouled for the penalty, and I think he had a really strong performance.

“But it’s more than the actions on the field,” Berhalter added. “I think it’s in the intensity in warm-ups that he showed, I mentioned the selflessness of giving Haji the penalty kick in that moment, not needing the spotlight, not needing to score the goal, wanting to put his teammate in a great position. And that’s Christian. When you have leaders like that, you’re lucky.”

As impressive as Pulisic’s selfless gesture was, the moment of the night came earlier, on the opening USMNT goal, when the Chelsea star collected a long-range aerial ball from Walker Zimmerman with a feathery touch before maneuvering past Morocco’s defense to lay off a perfectly-weighted pass to set up a Brenden Aaronson finish.

“That’s what separates really good players from great players, the ability to take the touch, control the ball at high speed,” Berhalter said. “You see when when he touches the ball, it’s right at his foot.

“The ability of players to control the ball at high speed and change direction, high speed with the ball is what really separates players of the next level and Cristian definitely has that,” Berhalter said. “And it was, again, I think he had an excellent performance and plays like that, when he gets fouled for the penalty, and plays like the assist, really separate him.”

Comments

  1. Let’s hope the USSF learns from Pulisic’s comments and rethinks game locations. There seems to be two issues as I see it preventing a larger US presence at these games.
    1. Look for locations that haven’t hosted a US game for a long time. It has been years since the US had games on the west coast or the northeast. Cincinnati and KC just hosted games recently. Why play in Austin in June?
    2. Ticket prices have increased considerably in the last several years, and that is a factor. Fans won’t pay $100 to watch the US romp over Granada.

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  2. He was really good, but I am still waiting for him to really dominate a game. We all know he can. But now we are seeing other players really emerge I. E. Weah, Aaronson, Mckennie, Reyna and teams will not be able to just target in on Pulisic. Which is a great development.

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      • Huh? Clearly you didn’t understand what I was saying. I didn’t say for them all to dominate a game. What I am saying is Pulisic will have more freedom to dominate a game when other players are capable of taking the attacking load off of him. Meaning opposing defenders have more players to worry about than just Pulisic to defend.

      • You know what? They should worry only about Pulisic.
        No one else.
        He destroyed them last night.
        No Pulisic? Maybe the USMNT tie 1-1 or win 1-0

        Does Pulisic dominates at Chelsea, where he is surrounded by better players, in some cases, very much better players than what he’s got with the USMNT? He can but not that often.

        Pulisic does what he has to to give his team the best chance to win the game. Does it work every time?
        No .
        Sometimes he’s not so good and sometimes his team mates and manager let him down big time.

        Last night they played to his standard.

        Other times he plays down to their level.

        It’s a good team but they have a way to go to get to Pulisic’s personal standard.

  3. CP was awesome, and I love his comments regarding fans. I was a little shocked watching on tv how many fans came to watch Morocco. Gotta be a little disheartening for the guys but we are a country of immigrants… The timing is probably tough for alot of US fans and families right now with school ending, graduations, academic and sports banquets, etc. Or is that just me lol

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    • For as much flak as the USMNT got for missing the last WC and qualifying with such an unproven and young group it was a justified statement by CP. Maybe the US soccer Federation should not of scheduled a game in Cincinnati. They had previously had a qualifyer only four months ago so perhaps lack of hunger. Been falling with this team for a long long time and yes there were years where that would’ve been a very solid crowd but we’ve grown and if it had been in my hometown I sure as hell would’ve been there even if I was dropping 100+ on a ticket plus the parking and other bullshit you pay for. Easy $200 per person evening but That’s the last shot they get to see a World Cup bound team.

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    • I always thought CP was a pretty boring interview until now. A little saltiness kind of suits him! Good for him. It’s ok to say what you think, especially when you’re totally right.

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  4. Someone should tell Christian that lots of fans are boycotting the Qatar World Cup.
    I won’t support a team that profits from slavery and oppression.

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    • That’s an interesting take, Evan.
      I’m aware of the human rights abuses in the middle east, but I didn’t know there was a link between them and the revenue that US soccer gets from their participation. I would have thought that the physical infrastructure was financed by a combination of state and private investors, and that those actors stood to gain from it. I thought the payments to the national soccer federations came from sponsorship revenues, which would have little to do with the host nation.
      Do you have a link to a story from a reputable source?
      Or was your comment just parroting some sanctimonious BS you heard passing the bong around?

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      • You don’t think USSF will be profiting from the World Cup in Qatar, which was built by slavery and oppression?

      • To be fair Evan, USSF spent quit a bit of money opposing the Qatar bid because they wanted to host.

    • Why focus solely on Qatar? If you’re that hard core about human rights abuses, then I assume you won’t be attending any 2026 matches in the US. For that matter, you should probably not support FIFA at all, or the sport generally. Neither the USA nor FIFA, nor many other member nations, are squeaky clean on the whole oppression/bribing/bombing/exploitation thing. Belgium is definitely a non-starter for you. Also, you should probably throw the device you’re using to comment in the trash and invest in messenger pigeons. Ciao.

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      • You’re correct, I won’t be supporting the 2026 World Cup, or anything else to do with FIFA either. how very astute of you.

    • Wait a minute. American fans showed up for a qualifier for the Qatar World Cup in Cincinnati, but then decided to boycott a pre-World Cup friendly played in the same stadium because of Qatar’s human rights abuses? Sounds like a stretch to me.

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    • while the slavery aspect is a real blight on Qatar for sure, as slavery should never be a thing, it was however reported that the workers will be paid for the work done. I know it’s too late to try and make amends, but you have to start somewhere, and FIFA putting together a payment package to address the issue is a again a start

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    • Evan – someone beat me to the point that your electronics (and you clothes and your food) are also delivered to you by people with working conditions you wouldn’t accept for yourself, so if you’re going to start boycotting everything you’ll need to learn to knit pretty quickly.
      To answer your question directly though, no, USSF won’t “profit” except maybe in the broadest definition of the word – the sport here will “profit” from exposure as it would if we qualified to play in the tournament anywhere. In monetary terms, depending on how we do we might get $10-15MM out of it, which will go to pay costs. Profit is what you get after you pay costs. I think USSF will still be pretty broke, especially after paying half to the USWNT. By the way, should the women reject those funds, now that they’ve just finished negotiating for them? Like I said, we are not the beneficiaries of the exploitation going on there. The developers are. If you disagree, show me evidence, don’t just re-assert it.

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