Christian Pulisic confident about the USMNT after gaining vital World Cup experience
The Chelsea forward believes that the United States will benefit greatly from their 2022 heartbreak.
The United States’ Men’s National Team has been rocked by a feud between former head coach Gregg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna, father of Dortmund starlet Gio and previously an international footballer in his own right.
The very public dispute is still playing out and has threatened to disrupt an USMNT side that appears to be making solid progress on the pitch. The US now boasts a number of players plying their trade in the major European leagues and the experience of reaching the knock-out round in the 2022 World Cup will only improve their chances in the years to come.
One of the stars of the side, Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic, has spoken to ESPN about the mood in the USMNT camp as focus turns to the 2026 World Cup, for which the US is a host nation.
World Cup showing highlighted positives in USMNT
During the interview with ESPN’s Simon Hunter, Pulisic was asked about the state of the national side after the removal of Berhalter from his role. Pulisic emphasised the strength of the current squad and the value of World Cup experience for the younger players:
“We’re not in a phase 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 new guys coming in. We have a strong core: a lot of people have seen that.
“We need to carry on. That’s why it’s a tough one, because I think we want to continue as soon as we can and build from this World Cup, which brought a lot of positives.”
USMNT “passed a big milestone” with 2022 performance
At the recent World Cup in Qatar the United States held a hotly-tipped England side to a draw in the group phase and progressed to the knock-out stages. Their last-16 defeat to the Netherlands was a bitter pill to swallow for the side, but Pulisic insists that there was reason for optimism from their showing:
“Of course we wanted to go further. I’m not here to say that we’re at all satisfied with where we got in the tournament. We passed a big milestone, we got out of the group stage, but we wanted to go all the way. There’s no doubt about it.”
“I did get a lot of compliments [from Chelsea teammates]. They said “Wow, we had no idea!” I knew before the tournament that we had a strong enough team to compete with England.”
“I was confident, and absolutely we had some compliments for how well we performed.”
World Cup experience could prove crucial in 2026
The 2026 edition of the FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico. The States have previously hosted the tournament once before, in 1994, at a time when the USMNT squad had little elite level experience.
This time around, Pulisic is confident that the lessons learnt from 2022 will help the USMNT to over-perform expectations:
“I’ve always been a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I believe God has a plan.
“I believe that the defeat against the Netherlands made us a stronger team, made me a stronger player, and that it’s going to help us when we’re in the next big match or the next World Cup.”