Christian Pulisic’s World Cup aim and how Chelsea man proven right after USA loss to Netherlands
If we’re being realistic, the United States were never going to win the 2022 World Cup. Christian Pulisic, who is the poster-boy of ‘soccer’ in America, wanted to change the way his country were seen in the sport. He wanted them to be taken more seriously.
“Maybe it hasn’t been the top sport back in the States and we want to change the way the world sees American soccer – it’s one of our goals,” the Chelsea attacker explained prior to the World Cup starting. “We haven’t been at the level of some of these world powerhouses in recent decades, but we’ve had good teams with a lot of heart. We can take it to the next step – a successful World Cup would change a lot.”
Put in a group with England, Wales and Iran, USA had a serious chance of progressing to the knockout stages. And they did. After back-to-back draws with Wales and England, the USMNT beat Iran 1-0 to ensure qualification from the group, with that man Pulisic scoring the winner.
The 24-year-old wide man’s brave goal saw him forced off through injury , though, with those watching in Qatar and back in the States all left sweating on whether he would be fit for their next game. However, the Chelsea forward was declared fit enough to take on the Netherlands in the Round of 16 in what was a huge challenge for the US.
Coming up against the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo was always going to be a challenge, particularly after the Oranje’s fine start to the competition. That it proved. Holland took the lead early in the match through Depay, who finished off a brilliant team move, set up by the impressive Denzel Dumfries, who has been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge. On the brink of half-time, it was Dumfries again the provider, this time setting up defender Daley Blind, who struck past Arsenal’s Matt Turner.
The Americans did reply in the second-half after a freak goal from Haji Wright but just five minutes later, Dumfries scored a superb volley to ensure the Netherlands’ progress into the quarter-final. In truth, Holland deserved it. It was Louis van Gaal’s side who had the overall control of the game and despite some bright moments from USA, the match proved to be too much for them.
Despite their exit in the first knockout stage, Pulisic’s aim to change the perception of how the rest of the footballing world see the country may have been successful. Pressing high off the ball and fast transitions when they do have possession made the US a really exciting team to watch.
“I’m really proud of this team and how far we’ve come,” Pulisic said after the defeat to Netherlands. “I hope we showed a lot of people what we can do. “It’s a shame because I thought we deserved more from this tournament. At the end of the day, we couldn’t get it done but there’s a lot of things we can be proud of.”
He added: “It was an incredible experience and one I will always remember. It hurts right now but give it a couple of days and we will know it’s a moment that we have together forever. “We thought we could advance and do a lot more this time around but I love these guys. It’s a really special group that we have. I never want to experience this feeling again and hopefully we have a lot of good things to come.”
The former Borussia Dortmund winger will now return to England to join up with the rest of the Chelsea squad who are not on international duty in Qatar. Blues head coach Graham Potter will no doubt be impressed with what he saw from Pulisic over the World Cup and the American will be hopeful he’s done enough to be considered in his plans after Christmas. Chelsea welcome Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge on December 27 in their first Premier League match since the World Cup.
Pulisic now has over three weeks to prepare and ensure he is in prime condition as he looks to turn around his Chelsea career.