To quote the iconic Pete Campbell line, “Not great, Bob!” That’s how things are going for the US Men’s National Team these days, including a certain young Christian Pulisic, who’s been tasked with putting out the dumpster fire that’s been burning since the national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Pour one out for Christian Pulisic. Go figure the country’s best male player since Donovan coincides with the program’s worst run/biggest mess in decades. #USMNT— Jeff Rueter (@jeffrueter) October 16, 2019
On Tuesday, the US slumped to yet another low, losing to Canada (Canada!) for the first time in three decades. Bayern Munich’s Canadian Hudson-Odoi, Alphonso Davies scored what ultimately proved to be the winning goal after a bit of hilarious US defending in the 63rd minute, then Liga MX’s Lucas Cavallini added the icing on the cake in stoppage time. Canada didn’t even need Fikayo Tomori (still eligible!) to keep a clean sheet!
The pressure is now fully on US head coach Gregg Berhalter, not just for this latest result, but for his confused tactics and lack of overall progress, not to mention what is being seen as the alienation of golden child Pulisic, especially after last night’s baffling decision to take him off in the 60th minute with the game finely balanced at 0-0. (Canada would score almost immediately, to make that decision look even worse!)
Gregg Berhalter said Christian Pulisic was struggling with flu-like symptoms. That was why he was subbed. Added that Pulisic wanted to continue. #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) October 16, 2019
Berhalter claimed afterwards that Pulisic was under the weather with some flu-like symptoms, but the 21-year-old’s reaction to the sub and his brief public interaction with the coach made it quite clear that probably was not a big of a problem, if a concern at all.
Christian Pulisic frustrated after coming off against Canada.pic.twitter.com/ulHoYe4tl3— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) October 16, 2019
USA coach Gregg Berhalter: Christian Pulisic subbed because he’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms. pic.twitter.com/McUYeXVJqm— The Blues (@TheBlues___) October 16, 2019
While Pulisic didn’t exactly have a great game either — he missed perhaps the US’s best chance, 1-v-1 with Red Star Belgrade’s Milan Borjan — he was often isolated and forced to take on multiple defenders without much support from the rest of his teammates. And while the match itself was mostly just a glorified friendly (“CONCACAF Nations League”), taking off the team’s best player and most likely source of goals as the first substitute has not gone down well with the American Soccer-Twitterati. For whatever that’s worth.
Either way, it was not a good day for US Soccer, for Berhalter’s job prospects, nor for Pulisic’s confidence coming back to Chelsea, where he faces an uphill battle for minutes.
#USMNT meltdown.#CANvUSA pic.twitter.com/yvnWFCKBNG— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) October 16, 2019
Two years after the shock in Trinidad, a first loss to Canada in 34 years showed the #usmnt isn't making the desired progress under Gregg Berhalter: https://t.co/qjjM6pna9Z— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) October 16, 2019