Christian Pulisic confident about the USMNT after gaining vital World Cup experience
The US men’s national team has been rocked by a dispute between former coach Greg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna, father of Dortmund star Gio and a former international soccer player in his own right.
The public feud remains and has threatened to derail a USMNT side that appears to be making solid progress on the field. The United States now boasts a number of players plying their trade in major European tournaments, and the experience of reaching the knockout round at the 2022 World Cup will improve their chances in the years to come.
One of the team’s stars, Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic, spoke to ESPN about the mood in the USMNT camp as focus turns to the 2026 World Cup, of which the United States is the host nation.
World Cup show prominent pros in the USMNT
During the interview with ESPN’s Simon Hunter, Pulisic was asked about the state of the national team following Berhalter’s sacking. Pulisic emphasized the strength of the current squad and the value of the World Cup experience for young players:
“We’re not at a point where we need a complete rebuild, like we were after not qualifying for the last World Cup four years ago. We don’t need a bunch of young guys coming in. We have a strong core: a lot of people have seen that.
“We need to keep going. That’s why it’s tough, because I think we want to continue as soon as possible and build from this World Cup, which has brought a lot of positives.”
Christian Pulisic 🗣
“Everything that happened with Greg first and foremost was handled in a very childish way. I think it’s childish, it’s youth football, and people complain about playing time… Greg was very unfortunate to get into the position he’s in now.” pic.twitter.com/nsmmhyCfwW
– USMNT only (@usmntonly) March 16, 2023
USMNT “passed a major milestone” with its 2022 performance
At the recent World Cup in Qatar, the United States held an in-form England to a tie in the group stage and advanced to the knockout stages. Their last-16 defeat by the Netherlands was a bitter pill for the side to swallow, but Pulisic insists there is reason for optimism with their display:
“Of course we wanted to go further. I’m not here to say we’re completely satisfied with where we are in the tournament. We’ve come a long way, we’re out in the group stage, but we wanted to go further. There’s no doubt about that.”
“I have received a lot of compliments [from Chelsea teammates]. They said “Wow, we have no idea!” I knew before the tournament that we had a strong enough team to compete with England.”
“I was confident, and we certainly had some praise for our good performance.”
ESPNFC’s Christian Pulisic on returning to Chelsea after the World Cup – “I got a lot of compliments, to be honest. They said ‘Wow, we have no idea! ‘ I knew before the tournament we had a squad strong enough to compete with England.” #CFC #USMNT pic.twitter.com/RYixAPw9HL
– USACFC (@USACFC_) March 17, 2023
The World Cup experience could be decisive in 2026
The United States, Canada and Mexico will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The United States had hosted the tournament once before, in 1994, at a time when the USMNT was inexperienced at the elite level.
This time around, Pulisic is confident that the lessons learned from 2022 will help the USMNT exceed expectations:
“I’ve always been a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe God has a plan.
“I think the defeat against Holland made us a stronger team, it made me a stronger player, and it will help us when we are in the next big game or the next World Cup.”