AL RAYYAN, Qatar – Which was more painful for Christian Pulisic: The brutal collision on his game-winning goal vs. Iran that earned him a halftime sub and trip to the hospital, or having to discuss the incident in minute detail with a large room full of journalists afterward?
“Yeah, it's excruciating going over it with you guys,” he admitted in a US men’s national team media availability at their Al Gharafa training base on Thursday evening.
The official description of the injury is “pelvic contusion,” and while that was widely judged to be a euphemism for a hard knock to his reproductive organs, Pulisic clarified that it in fact was not.
“It's not. I didn't get, like, hit in the balls,” he said, prompting laughter across the room. “I'm alright, I'm alright. It was very painful and it’s just, that bone is there for a reason to protect you, I think, and I hit it well, and it was sore. But like I said, I'm getting better.”
This was the media’s first chance to speak with the Chelsea star since the massive 1-0 win over Team Melli which earned the Yanks a date with the Netherlands in the Round of 16 on Saturday (10 am ET | FOX, Telemundo). So it was unsurprising that he was asked to break down the decisive goal – and the ensuing injury.
“I saw Weston [McKennie] play a great ball over the top [to Sergiño Dest]. And my opportunity was there to just to beat the defender to the ball. And I was just able to do that, and paid the price for it a bit,” said Pulisic. “I took a knee, you could see the video, just to a nice pelvis area – it was not nice. But obviously very painful. But yeah, feeling better, doing better now.”
Availability still unclear
In the collective postgame euphoria, he vowed, via texts and Snapchats with his teammates, to be ready to face the Dutch. He was more guarded on that front on Thursday.
“So I'm going to go meet now with the team and the medical staff and make a decision today,” Pulisic said when asked if he expected to take part in Thursday’s training session, to be held just after the press conference. “Just kind of see how I'm feeling, taking it day by day right now. But doing everything in my power to be able to be out there on the field on Saturday.”
Thursday’s training is closed to media, so there was no way to confirm whether he joined his teammates on the pitch. Yet after all he’s been through to reach this point, it still seems unlikely he’d miss out on Saturday’s enormous occasion.
“I'm taking it day by day right now,” said Pulisic. “And I will do everything in my power to work with this medical team and make sure that I can play."