DOHA, Qatar — Christian Pulisic’s availability for the U.S. men’s national team’s Round of 16 clash with the Netherlands appeared to be in jeopardy when he was forced out of the team’s win against Iran, but the Chelsea star has recovered in time for Saturday’s knockout-round clash with the Dutch.
U.S. Soccer announced on Friday that Pulisic has been cleared to play against the Netherlands, just four days after he took a knee to the lower abdomen that produced a pelvic contusion that forced him out at halftime of the eventual 1-0 victory.
Pulisic scored the eventual winning goal on the same play he was injured, but was forced to leave the match at halftime after attempting to play through the pain late in the first half.
USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter also addressed the status of striker Josh Sargent on Friday, saying the Norwich City forward was still day-to-day with an ankle injury he suffered in the second half of the win against Iran. Sargent started two of the USMNT’s three group-stage matches, but is still searching for his first goal of the World Cup.
If Sargent is unable to start, Berhalter could turn to FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira at striker. Ferreira had been the team’s first-choice striker earlier in 2022, but the month-long break following the end of the MLS season may have impacted his match fitness, giving the edge to European-based forwards Sargent and Haji Wright, who have split the three USMNT starts at striker to date.
Wright could also be called on to start at striker, though he had a lackluster performance off the bench against Iran. Wright started against England, and while he had a quiet day offensively, was widely praised for his defensive work.
While Pulisic has been cleared to play, that doesn’t mean he will automatically start. If he is unable to start, then Berhalter could turn to Brenden Aaronson to play as a winger, or give Gio Reyna a look. Reyna has played just seven minutes at the World Cup, a late-game cameo against England.