Christian Pulisic felt the pressure to deliver a deep run at the 2022 FIFA World Cup since he sat and cried on the field in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017 when the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Fresh off the USMNT’s 3-1 loss in the round of 16 to The Netherlands, Pulisic expressed sorrow for a tournament exit he felt came too soon, as well as optimism for the future of the USMNT based on the performance in Qatar.
“I’m really proud of this team, how far we’ve come,” Pulisic said to FOX reporter Jenny Taft. “I hope we showed a lot of people what we can do.”
Pulisic’s performances in four games can be nitpicked. There were times he missed key passes that could’ve given the USMNT a great scoring opportunity. He also had the American’s best chance against The Netherlands saved in the third minute. Had he converted that one-on-one chance against goalkeeper Andries Noppert, the game might’ve been different.
But overall he delivered in key moments. He had an assist on two of the team’s three goals and scored the other in a must-have, win-or-go-home 1-0 win against Iran to advance from the group stage to the knockout rounds.
Pulisic silenced any doubters who thought he couldn’t deliver a clutch result for the U.S. by sacrificing his body for the eventual game-winner in the 38th minute against Iran. He then came back from his pelvic contusion injury and played 90 minutes against The Netherlands.
“It really is a shame. We deserved more from this tournament. At the end of the day, we couldn’t give it done but I think there’s a lot of things we can be proud of.”
It might not feel like it at the moment for Pulisic and the Americans, but the core of this youngest group in team history showed they can compete at the World Cup while having plenty of room to build in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
The growth of the young group “excites me for sure,” Pulisic said. “It hurts a lot right now. We thought we could’ve advanced and done a lot more this time around. But I love these guys and it’s a very special group we have.”
"Thank you guys so much for the support… We wanted it so bad, and I hope we gave you some kind of excitement and showed you what this country is about, what this team is about."
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 3, 2022