Captain Pulisic leads by example in USMNT win

first_imgChristian Pulisic wore the captain’s armband for just the second time in his U.S. national team career, and didn’t bother with any rah-rah speeches. He chose instead to let his play do the talking, and his effort early on in Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal helped set the tone for a hard-fought victory.On a day when Curacao tested the Americans like no team had in this Gold Cup, it was Pulisic who provided a consistent threat, setting the tone with a strong start, and delivering the game-winning assist on Weston McKennie’s goal in an eventual 1-0 victory.It was a performance that drew praise from Curacao manager Remko Bicentini, who called him the best player on the night, as well as raves from USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare “He’s a guy that can lead through performance,” Berhalter said of Pulisic. “I talked to him about being captain in this game, and it was something that he readily accepted. You see his work. He’s a guy that — despite getting fatigued in the game — he didn’t stop working, and then he has the quality to give a great pass to Weston, an in-swinging cross. He was in on a number of other chances, shots from the top of the 18, had that other chance in the beginning of the game that was really close to going in, And his defensive work was excellent.”Really happy with his performance, and that’s why he was captain, to be able to put in performances like that.”Playing in front of his family, the Hershey, Pennsylvania native came out buzzing to start the match, taking on defenders and nearly opening the scoring in the fifth minute, only to have Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Good deny him with a highlight-reel save.Pulisic broke through in the 25th minute when he delivered an inch-perfect cross that McKennie headed home for the eventual winning goal on a night when the U.S. attack struggled to generate chances after a promising start.Pulisic McKennie Gold Cup USMNTChances were sparse for the Americans, but Pulisic remained a threat throughout the night, fighting and scrapping for loose balls and taking on defenders any chance he got.”I just really wanted to show the team that I was there, and I wanted to lead the team right from the start,” Pulisic said. “I wanted the team to kind of gain some energy off that, being a great start. I just wish we could have put away a few more of those chances in the beginning, myself as well, but in the end we got the win.”The 1-0 victory was the second straight 1-0 result after Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Panama, but Curacao gave the Americans their toughest challenge so far this Gold Cup, passing through the USMNT press with ease and dominating possession in the second half. For the most part, that control didn’t lead to truly dangerous chances, save for one threatening long-range shot that Zack Steffen parried away with a diving save.”Not every game is going to go perfectly,” Pulisic said. “Curacao did a really good job when they had the ball. They were very calm with the ball. They moved it really well and they built out of the back well. They made us defend a lot, and it was tough, but like I said, in the end we need to finish more chances towards the beginning of the game to make it easier on ourselves, but now we’re on to the next one.”The Americans move on to Wednesday’s Gold Cup semifinal against Jamaica, a rematch of the 2017 Gold Cup final won by the USMNT, and a rematch of a June 5 friendly won by Jamaica at Audi Field in Washington D.C.Wednesday’s rematch will look much different, not least of all because Pulisic didn’t play in the previous meeting. On Wednesday, Pulisic will be on hand to lead the attack, which will need to play much better than it did on Sunday if the USMNT is going to reach the Gold Cup final.”We know what we need to work on,” Pulisic said. “Today wasn’t exactly our day, it didn’t flow as it did in the last few games offensively, but we’re going to find that rhythm. Today, if we score a few more goals early in that game it’s a completely different game. It opens up and we’re able to be much more calm. They did a good job defending us, they were calm on the ball and they were able to keep the ball for stretches, it was not easy for us, but in the end we won the game.”last_img read more

Read More