The US men’s national team will be without Christian Pulisic for their international friendlies against Wales on Thursday and Panama on Monday, with the Chelsea midfielder having returned to his club to continue rehab.
Pulisic injured his hamstring in warmups before Chelsea’s Oct. 31 game against Burnley, and he’s been recovering ever since. He joined the USMNT’s European-heavy camp, but fitness levels remain off.
“Christian is a big part of our group,” head coach Gregg Berhalter said Wednesday “He has been working through an injury, but it really says a lot that he wanted to come into camp, be around the guys and continue to be a leader with this team.”
By departing camp, Pulisic remains on 14 goals in 34 international appearances. The 22-year-old, who plays centrally or out wide, is part of a young core that also includes Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Sergino Dest (Barcelona) and more. Of note, the USMNT will also be without striker Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen) since COVID-19 travel protocols made him unavailable to travel.
Berhalter also said on a Wednesday conference call with media that he doesn't anticipate many other players departing the camp before the Panama game.
"I don't expect there to be many players returning to their club after this game," he said. "We play again on Monday, short turnaround. There probably will be some rotations, but what I'd say is we want to get guys playing together, we want to get good guys on the field and getting some minutes for the national team, some of the core players who haven't been involved that much. So we'll make some changes but it won't be that drastic overall. we're looking to build from game to game and see where we come in."
With the pandemic prompting a lengthy international pause, then combined with Pulisic’s own schedule, he last featured for the USMNT during an October 2019 Concacaf Nations League game against Canada, a 2-0 loss in Toronto.
Injury troubles have limited Pulisic all season, as he recovered from a separate injury suffered in August’s FA Cup final before returning for Chelsea in early October. With the latest injury, he’s already missed the Blues’ last three matches. They return Nov. 21 against Newcastle United.