United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said the introduction of Chelsea star Christian Pulisic made a huge difference in their win over Mexico on Friday.
As Berhalter promised, Pulisic did not feature in the USMNT starting line-up to face their biggest rivals, Mexico.
The 23-year-old picked up an ankle injury during international duty in September and has yet to start for both Chelsea and the national team since.
Berhalter indicated that Pulisic himself is aware that he is not 100 per cent fit yet.
But it did not stop Pulisic from wanting to make an impact and he clearly did, in the best way possible.
“Definitely part of the plan was to think about how much he can play at the intensity that we needed in this game,” the manager said about Pulisic in the post-match press conference.
“When I spoke to him before the camp, his mindset was, ‘I just want to come in and help the team.’
“Part of his quality we know he has is arriving in the penalty box.
“He does that really well, and this was another example of his arriving with speed and being able to get the goal and turn the game.”
Pulisic put fear into Mexico, says Berhalter
To be fair, the USMNT had arguably already played quite well before Pulisic came in. It is just that they lacked the final touches in the final third.
Berhalter admitted he worried that his team might fail to win despite playing well, but Pulisic, as expected, made the difference.
“But when we brought in Christian, it gave the team a boost,” he added.
“Also, I think it put some fear into Mexico since they know his quality.
“Anytime we can bring in players like that, and they can make an impact, it’s a good thing for us.”
Pulisic’s opener forced Mexico to play more aggressively. It eventually led to the USMNT’s doubling their lead and putting the game to bed through Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie.