Christian Pulisic put it all on the line to score his first World Cup goal. His body did the work with his legacy hanging in the balance. If the current face of American soccer couldn’t score the goal that separated the United States men’s national team from advancing to the knockout stage in Qatar from flying out of the Middle East, who would’ve? And if getting hit in the nuts at full speed is what it takes to make the final 16 of the tournament, so be it, the future of the Pulisic family lineage be damned.
After his late-first-half collision with Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, moments after Pulisic made his decisive touch, he crumpled to the field. Replays showed the Chelsea forward clearly taking the brunt of the contact on his manhood. I’m no doctor, and I don’t play one for Deadspin, but my medical assumption is that really fuckin’ hurt. Any guy knows getting hit in the nuts of any velocity and with any object is awful. At full speed and the collision being knee to groin, that’s necessary torture. That’s not what a nutmeg is for you soccer beginners.
Pulisic was officially diagnosed with a pelvic contusion, with a day-to-day status as it pertains to Saturday’s game against The Netherlands. Even if he denied getting hit in the crotch during Thursday’s media availability — “No, I didn’t get hit in the balls,” he said — the tape doesn’t lie. Maybe you were wearing some sort of athletic supporter more commonly found in football or wrestling, but you got ball-tapped by Beiranvand’s knee. There are three days off in between games for the USMNT. That’s about 96 hours between kickoffs to rid Pulisic of that pain.
CP10 didn’t look any worse for wear, beating the team back to its Qatari hotel after getting checked out at a local hospital. He may have hidden his ailment well, but the shot to the groin didn’t affect his mobility to hug his teammates after the Yanks clinched a spot in the knockout stages without him in the second half. The medical status of Pulisic’s nether region wasn’t expected to be a central topic of the American’s journey at the World Cup. The investigative work packaging together details on Captain America’s package is based on whether he’ll play against the Dutch. Regardless of whatever injury Pulisic suffered against Iran, it would have to be way worse than an unfortunate collision to not be playing in the tournament anymore.
If day-to-day is Pulisic’s medical designation to keep the word out that he’s more injured than we know, the lucky part for America is that he plays the deepest position for the USMNT. Moving Brenden Aaronson into the starting lineup — or actually giving Gio Reyna a chance — wouldn’t see much of a dip in the team’s performance. Pulisic is a game-changer for the United States and when in form, is the squad’s best attacking option. Losing Tyler Adams would be detrimental to the Yanks’ chances of upsetting The Netherlands. Pulisic not playing would be less than ideal, but not catastrophic.
The USMNT hasn’t played a team like the Dutch at the World Cup thus far. Then again, the Americans haven’t played a team that has as good of an up-tempo playing style as The Netherlands with Gregg Berhalter as head coach ever. It’ll be a stiff test, but not one the USMNT can’t pass with or without its biggest star. Just in case, if you’re so inclined, pray for Pulisic’s pelvis.