FIFA Men's World Cup
Christian Pulisic cleared to play Saturday vs. Netherlands
FIFA Men's World Cup

Christian Pulisic cleared to play Saturday vs. Netherlands

Updated Dec. 2, 2022 1:41 p.m. ET

Christian Pulisic will play for the United States men’s national team against the Netherlands in the Round of 16 of the World Cup on Saturday (10 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), according to FOX Sports' Jenny Taft. 

Pulisic, of course, scored the game-winning goal to beat Iran 1-0 that vaulted the U.S. out of Group B on Tuesday night. In the process, however, he sacrificed his body and collided with Iranian goalkeeper Allireza Beiranvand, which resulted in Pulisic suffering a pelvic contusion. 

Coach Gregg Berhalter had said earlier Friday the team was "hopeful" that Pulisic would be able to play, as U.S. Soccer continued to say Pulisic's status is "day-to-day." But later Friday, he was officially cleared.

Christian Pulisic cleared to play against Netherlands


On Friday, the day before the knockout match, Berhalter said he expected Pulisic to be on the field during their evening training session.

"What I think is. it looks pretty good," Berhalter said of the superstar winger’s status. "But I have to see him on the pitch today to get confirmation of that."

Berhalter was also asked about striker Josh Sargent, who was injured during the Iran game as well. Sargent, who started for the USMNT against both Wales and Iran, is experiencing right ankle soreness after he was knocked in the second half. Sargent was subbed out of the match in the 77th minute.

"He’s another one we’re going to test in training and see where he’s at," Berhalter said. "I think with Christian, we are hopeful. With [Sargent], a little less so. We’ll see. At this stage, it’s go time. If you can push through it, you do. I’m sure he’ll have that mindset."

Josh Sargent listed as day-to-day

Dr. Matt Provencher gives his prognosis for USMNT's Josh Sargent after suffering an ankle injury in the United States' 1-0 win over Iran.

If Sargent can’t play against the Netherlands, Berhalter will have to make a decision as to who starts in the No. 9 spot. This opponent is somewhat similar to the England matchup, and Haji Wright got the nod in that game. Alternatively, Berhalter could go with some fresh legs and play Jesus Ferreira, who has yet to come off the bench at this World Cup.

Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal was not directly asked about how his game planning might be impacted if two key pieces of the U.S. attack either don’t play or aren’t 100%, but he did speak briefly about Pulisic and his own striker Cody Gakpo during his news conference Friday. 

Gakpo is the Netherlands' 23-year-old rising star who has scored in all three of his country’s games so far in Qatar. He’s currently tied with England’s Marcus Rashford, France’s Kylian Mbappe and Spain’s Alvaro Morata for the Golden Boot lead (they’ve each scored three goals) heading into Friday’s matches.

"They are both creative players," van Gaal said. "They have a lot of assists, crosses and goals. These are the players that determine if a team can win. That applies to Pulisic and Gakpo and that’s why they are valuable players."

Pulisic’s status and fitness level has been the No. 1 storyline for the U.S. heading into Saturday’s game. Will he be 100%? No. But is it widely believed he will start? Yes. Pulisic himself said Thursday night that he would "do everything in my power to be out there on the field on Saturday."

Christian Pulisic's news conference ahead of Netherlands game

As the team’s most talented and recognizable player who loves playing for the national team and has dreamed of playing in a World Cup his whole life, there’s no reason to doubt him.

And despite Pulisic’s injury and the aura of uncertainty surrounding him, the USMNT’s energy levels are up. 

U.S. captain Tyler Adams was asked about that Friday and said that thanks to Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin, who "keep the vibes high at all times" by carrying their speakers around wherever they go, the team is in a good place.

Van Gaal has noticed as much in a limited time observing Berhalter’s squad.

"I’ve already said that the USA is a very energetic squad with physically strong players," van Gaal said. "That is tough for any opponent, and you can tell from their results. But, hey, we will do everything we can to win and to beat the USA."

The U.S. hopes those "vibes" will be an advantage over the Netherlands on Saturday.

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Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.


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