CLEVELAND – Christian Pulisic could not stop smiling.
Given the fact that the USA. Trinidad & Tobago defeated 6-0 in the second group game at the Gold Cup, which does not seem so unusual. But Pulisic's post-game behavior usually switches between stoically when the team wins and gloomy when the team loses.
This time, Pulisic was brisk and excited about all sorts of topics, though he liked the team's performance the most.
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"We enjoyed every moment of it," he said of the victory. "Obviously the goals and things went very well, so it looks good, we'll have some bigger challenges ahead of us and we're more excited for them."
Pulisic even found time to deal with the energy levels of his teammates and longtime friend, Weston McKennie.
"He also has more energy at 8:00 am than any guy I've ever met," Pulisic said of McKennie. "Do not talk to him in the morning, then he'll be on the way all the time."
"A counter hits at 9:15 am and he's ready. Then the whole day is just non-stop. I'm a morning person, so this time is good for me because Wes is not always in my ear. "
Pulisic also opened a small window into what this game meant to him." All week the US team insisted that revenge for the World Cup qualifier against the Soca Warriors in 2017 was one Defeat that prevented them to reach the 2018 World Cup played in World Cup qualifiers like Paul Arriola's over those who did not like Wil Trapp.
Pulisic was different and even said in an interview after the game that "you know what happened to Trinidad," he said, "Obviously I really wanted to win bad today." That's it. "
It turned out. Pulisic and the rest of his teammates struggled to collapse T & T in the first half, though this was partly because the Soca Warriors were content to sit back and pressure and try to hit the US on the counter. That said, the US was not keen.
But it was the Chelsea midfielder who helped break the ice with a bit of quality that came in the form of a perfect result. Aaron Long headed the first of his two goals home, Pulisic preparing Gyasi Zardes & # 39; Second goal in the night before and was after the beginning of the game an offensive threat. Including a Pulisic hit brought in by Jordan Morris.
"They were very man-oriented and it was difficult to push the boundaries, but we said you have to keep moving and find the right spaces, and we did a good job in the second half," he said. Obviously, if you do this the whole game and pres If you lose the ball, it's hard for them.
"They got tired, you could see it and we did that really well tonight."
Pulisic even praised manager Gregg Berhalter for his work. In the second half, the midfielder sprinted back to win the ball.
"It's not my greatest strength, but I think it's really important that I get into this team "If I leave, I'll try to help the team as best I can," said Pulisic. "If it means I have to work really hard, I'll understand how we're going to put pressure and how we're going to do things. I worked hard tonight."
All about Pulisic, from his appearance This could be reflected in his post-game mood with his US teammates. The evil Zardes hit twice and was only inches from a hat-trick. McKennie played an important role in midfield, supporting Michael Bradley a little better and at the same time finding some of his energy for further progress.
While the defense had some scary moments in dealing with some T & T counterattacks – including one in the 61st minute that ended when Levi Garcia missed the target – they held up well on the whole.
There are certainly better teams in this tournament than T & T, who retired after two games with a gate differential of minus 8. Before the tournament, however, the Americans had difficulties to look against almost all. It's worth noting that Pulisic did not play in any of these games, but now at least the US seems to be building up some chemistry.
Arriola, scorer of the US team's fifth hit, and Tyler Boyd it's devastation on the flanks. Bradley and McKennie seemed to be in sync with their roles. The sight of Jozy Altidore, who made it to the pitch for a 16-minute appearance, was welcome.
While it's undoubtedly helpful for players around Pulisic to perform well, he remains the crucial piece if the US really wants to win the tournament. For a player with Pulisics talent this is not news. But there were moments when Pulisic was burdened by the responsibility that weighed on him. The fact that the US attacker feels better in the skin of his national team is a good sign.
"I think we're trying to get him into a position where he can [take a game over]," Berhalter said of Pulisic. "The structure around him helps him to be flexible, he can go far, he can come in, he can make room for himself, we can use the striker to bring him the ball that bounces him back that's what we try. " and the reason why we try to do that is that he has these groundbreaking skills. "
It is premature to say that the US men's team has fully recovered, with Panama, his last opponent in the group stage on Thursday, having a habit of giving the US a hard time at the Gold Cup Canaleros blamed for the US losing their only group stage defeat in the history of the tournament.
But both the US and Panama have reached the quarter-finals. What intensity will there be in a game?
"The first two games were good, but it's just a start," Bradley added, "We understand that as the tournament progresses, the games become more difficult, the competitiveness increases, and the level increases
True, but for the first time in an apparent time, the potential for this US team to have a higher upper limit seems to be more real gram, burdened by a World Cup qualifier, is a welcome advance.