In a match overflowing with sociopolitical overtones, the United States of America needed their leader to step up, and indeed Christian Pulisic did. (At least for the first half, which he completed despite getting hurt while scoring the game’s only goal thus far).
Yes, Captain America opened up his World Cup account, by converting a scoring chance late in the first half.
PULISIC GIVES USA THE 1-0 LEAD! ?? pic.twitter.com/Lf5fN2BPEx
— ESPN (@espn) November 29, 2022
Christian Pulisic laying it all on the line for his country ?? pic.twitter.com/hOnYptRKz4
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 29, 2022
It was a beautiful goal, but it came with a price as Captain America suffered an abdominal injury in the build-up.
It looks like he took a knee or a foot to the groin area too, perhaps. Whatever the specifics, Pulisic showed cajones, stones, onions, balls, chutzpah, whatever you want to call it by sticking it out for the remaining minutes of the first half.
Pulisic played through the pain but didn’t come back out for the second half.
His night is done, and he was replaced by Brenden Aaronson. The USMNT, playing first team with no Major League Soccer players in it for only the second time (first at a World Cup) since their domestic league was founded in 1996, brought a 1-0 lead into the second half.
It’s do-or-die, win-or-go-home, pick your cliche, so the USA really need to get that second goal and finish off the game. Once again, they’re dominating everywhere but in finishing. The USA won possession 61%-39% in the first half, shots 9-0, shots on target, 3-0.
One-sided yes, but this is far from over.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”