- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2022

Christian Pulisic answered the burning hot question Thursday that all of America was dying to know: What the heck is a pelvic contusion?

Turns out, according to the U.S. soccer team striker, the strange injury designation isn’t just a code for “bruised pebbles.”

“I didn’t get hit in the balls,” Pulisic said with a laugh Thursday in Qatar after a reporter attempted to ask about his private parts. “It was very painful. That bone is there for a reason to protect you. I hit it well. It was sore, but it’s getting better.”

OK, now that the too-much-information part is out of the way, the more important question is whether the 24-year-old superstar is going to be able to suit up Saturday for the U.S. The Americans face the Netherlands in its World Cup Round of 16 match at 10 a.m. It is to be considered the biggest soccer game for the U.S. in at least eight years. 

Officially, Pulisic is day-to-day, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation. But Pulisic wouldn’t confirm his status for Saturday’s match. Without the Hershey, Pennsylvania, native, the U.S. played its worst half of soccer Tuesday and nearly saw Iran tie the game. Pulisic, who also plays for Chelsea in the Premier League, is widely considered the best player on the U.S. team and one of the most talented American soccer players ever.

“I’m going to go meet now with the team medical staff and make a decision on [training] today, just kind of see how I’m feeling, taking it day by day,” Pulisic told reporters. “Right now, I’m doing everything in my power to be able to be out there on the field on Saturday.”

Pulisic injured his pelvis on the game-winning score against Iran on Tuesday. Now, the young American squad — the youngest remaining in the World Cup — faces the Netherlands, which also made it through the group stage without a loss. Ranked as the No. 8 team in the world, the Netherlands won Group A with seven points after tying Ecuador and beating Qatar and Senegal. 

“We all know Netherlands is a big team, a lot of quality players,” said U.S. forward Tim Weah, who scored the first goal against Wales. “Our group, we rely on our team mentality, our togetherness, our hard work. I feel like we’re confident against anyone. We just have to go out there and apply ourselves and do what we have to do to get the job done.”

Similar to the U.S., the Netherlands hoped to bounce back at the World Cup after missing the tournament in 2018. Unlike the U.S., however, the Dutch had one of the best teams in the world before then, finishing third in the 2014 World Cup and losing in the championship match in 2010. 

The Netherlands, which sports one of the best defenses in the world and allowed only one goal in its three group-stage matches, is significantly favored by the oddsmakers to beat the U.S. Since manager Louis van Gaal was hired, the Netherlands has yet to lose, with 13 wins and five draws. 

The U.S., meanwhile, hopes to clear a hurdle it’s had trouble with in recent World Cups. Both in 2010 and 2014, the U.S. lost 2-1 in extra time in the Round of 16, first to Ghana and then to Belgium. The only time the U.S. won a Round of 16 match was in 2002 against Mexico. 

“This is a team that is certainly not going to fear the U.S.,” soccer analyst Alexi Lalas said on Fox News radio Wednesday. “This is a team that is going to look to impose themselves on the U.S., but I also think this is certainly a winnable game for the U.S.”

Having Pulisic may seem like a prerequisite for the U.S. to upset the Dutch. For now, though, American soccer fans can enjoy Pulisic’s game-winner against Iran. After all, it was the biggest goal for U.S. soccer since Landon Donovan’s against Algeria in 2010. 

“He needed his World Cup moment. Every athlete needs that. Christian Pulisic got it against Iran,” former U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” 

But Pulisic doesn’t want that goal to be his “moment.” 

“I’m hoping I haven’t had that moment yet, to be honest,” Pulisic said. “I’m hoping it’s in front of me. It feels great to be where we’re at right now, but there’s still more to come.”

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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