DOHA, Qatar — Christian Pulisic was happy to talk about what happened before his goal on Tuesday that helped the United States reach the last 16 of the World Cup.
He was happy to talk about the ride to the hospital after colliding with the Iranian goalkeeper, how during that journey he used his coach’s phone to watch the rest of the game, and how he said he had a chance — still not 100 percent — The United States will be available against the Netherlands on Saturday.
As he gazed at the faces of at least 100 reporters, he was reluctant to discuss the details of his injuries. The U.S. Soccer Association called Pulisic’s injury a “pelvic contusion.” Pulisic paused for a long time when reporters asked for clarification on what that meant.
“I mean,” he said, “it’s a pelvic contusion, you know?”
The specifics are hardly important. Importantly, at least for the United States, Pulisic admitted he was unsure of his ability to complete a full training session with his teammates on Thursday, 48 hours before the biggest match of their lives.
Pulisic’s problem was basically that his shot in the collision during Tuesday’s 1-0 win affected his ability to work. A soccer player’s hips, and especially any muscles, tendons, and tissues supporting them, play an important and interrelated role in assisting locomotion, turns, and sprints. Pulisic seemed to concede that, at least until Thursday, he wasn’t sure he had recovered enough to play at the level required on Saturday.
A brief guide to the 2022 World Cup
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“I’m going to meet the team and the medical staff now and make a decision today and see how I feel,” he said in his first public comments since the injury. “Taking it day by day now, but doing my best to be on the pitch on Saturday.”
He admits it pained him to leave the game after scoring. Pulisic lay on the pitch for several minutes after scoring before needing help to get up and stay standing. He was back in the game a few minutes later, but a few minutes later the half-time whistle blew and he left the pitch tunnel.
When his side returned to the pitch for the second half, Pulisic was absent and replaced by his teammate Brendon Aaronson.
“Obviously the emotions were high, so I played as best I could,” Pulisic said of his brief return to action. “Honestly, it’s kind of vague.”
After evaluating his condition at halftime, U.S. Soccer medical staff decided he needed to go to the hospital for a scan to determine the full nature of his injury, he said. Team coach Harris Patel won; on the road, Patel pulled up video of the game on his phone so he and Pulisic could see what they missed.
“It was the hardest thing,” Pulisic said. “I think they’re checking my blood sugar and everything, and it’s flying through the roof, but it’s not because of anything – it’s just the pressure of me watching the game. Once I get through it and the final whistle goes, I’m super happy.”
Saturday’s game will be one not to miss. The U.S. team hasn’t played a knockout match at a World Cup since 2014, and the current squad represents a new generation of players who have high hopes not only for this World Cup but for the World Cup that will be played in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in 2026. .
Pulisic already has fond memories — and painful ones — of this year’s game. But as he sat next to his team-mate Timothy Weah, who scored the Americans’ only other goal in Qatar on the team’s opener against Wales, Pulisic said they still felt they had there’s still a long way to go.
“It’s a great feeling to score goals at the World Cup,” Pulisic said when asked if he had already enjoyed his special World Cup moments. “Timmy knows what that feels like. I wish I hadn’t had that moment. I wish it was in front of me.”