February 4, 2023

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Christian Pulisic, at Mend, says he will play on Saturday

Christian Pulisic, at Mend, says he will play on Saturday

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DOHA, Qatar — The surprised guest waited patiently at the end of the line of well-wishers to welcome Team USA back to their hotel following their 1-0 victory over Iran early Wednesday morning. He was the man who made the celebration possible: Christian Pulisic, among the raucous scuffles of noisy hugs and gracefully strong hugs, was beaming wide and checking in the players on his phone.

Pulisic, who scored the only goal for the Americans in the victory that took them to the knockout stages of the World Cup, took a different path off the field. And he was injured while scoring the goal, which ended in a violent collision with the Iranian goalkeeper, forcing him to leave the match between halftime and then to the hospital for examinations.

Soccer America described the injury as a bruise to the pelvis and said Pulisic was listed day by day. But he is not expected to be ruled out of the Americans’ next game, the round of 16 match against the Netherlands on Saturday, an opinion that Pulisic at least seems to share.

In a message he sent from his hospital bed once the game was over, complete with fist photos, he congratulated his teammates on their victory and wrote, “I’ll be ready for Saturday and don’t worry.”

Coach Greg Berhalter said after the match that the team celebrated Pulisic’s absence with a video call from the locker room. About an hour after that, they were able to see him in person again.

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The reunion came at the end of a boisterous honor guard that greeted the American players when their team bus brought them back to their hotel in the wee hours of Wednesday morning: two lines of applause and shouts from fans, family members, the union and hotel staff.

Pulisic, who was waiting alone at the end of it all, was recording everything on his cellphone. His presence seemed to come as a surprise to at least two of his teammates. Striker Tim Weh, spotting his friend, threw his arms around him in a warm embrace. Defender DeAndre Yedlin pushed his face up front and center to score Pulisic.

The goal that made the celebration possible came as no surprise to his coach.

“Christian runs – that’s what he does,” Berhalter said. “That’s the special quality he has. Once the ball is out, he gets aggressively into the penalty area and good things happen.”

his injury? His teammates confirmed that their friend was not seriously injured, and said that it was just part of Pulisic’s game.

“Every player is ready to put their body on the line to make sure this team succeeds,” said quarterback Weston McKinney.

US captain Tyler Adams added Pulisic more specifically: “He would do anything for this team so we could win.”