DOHA, Qatar — Christian Pulisic has been cleared to play in the US Men’s National Team’s World Championship Round of 16 match against the Netherlands, USMNT reported Friday night.
Pulisic trained on Friday here at Al Gharaf where he was praised by the coaches and team staff. Head coach Gregg Berhalter had previously said he was “hopeful” that Pulisic would play on Saturday; training brought confirmation.
However, Berhalter said he was “a little less” hopeful for forward Josh Sargent.
“He’s another one we’re going to test in training, see where he is,” Berhalter said on Friday. The team did not provide official information on Sargent’s status.
Both Pulisic and Sargent took part in Friday’s warm-up, which was the only part of the workout open to the media. Neither of them looked visibly weakened, and both hung around with smiles on their faces before and between sessions. (Sargent was one of the last players on the field, but it’s not clear if that matters.)
Both players were injured in the match against Iran with a score of 1:0. Pulisic suffered a “pelvic bruise” when he scored the goal that secured the US a playoff spot. Sargent, who started in both Wales and Iran, landed badly after evading a challenge in the second half and left the game with an ankle problem.
Pulisic said on Thursday, midway between games, that he “feels better.” The blow — “a knee… to a good pelvic area” — “was very painful,” he said. At first he was painful, but by the next day his condition improved significantly, a source told Sportzshala Sports. On Thursday, he appeared to be moving normally and was photographed in training uniform on the pitch with teammates on Thursday evening.
On Thursday, Pulisic said he would do “everything in my power to be on the pitch on Saturday.”
Sargent’s status remains uncertain, but he too would probably be willing to go through the pain.
“At this stage, the time has come,” Berhalter said on Friday. “If you can get through this, you will. I’m sure he will have that mindset.”
If Sargent is unable to play, Hadji Wright, who started against England and replaced Sargent against Wales and Iran, and Jesús Ferreira will be prime candidates to replace him. Berhalter said last week and this week that he is not considering using Tim Weah or other non-hitters in the centre-forward position.