USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter said the introduction of Chelsea star Christian Pulisic made a huge difference in their win over Mexico on Friday.
The manager 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.
Things didn’t get truly dramatic until the final 20 minutes, which saw the introduction of Christian Pulisic off the bench, who wasted absolutely no time in scoring the game’s first goal, which would prove to be the winner. (Weston McKennie made it 2-0 late on.)
The manager said about Pulisic in the post-match press conference: “Definitely part of the plan was to think about how much he can play at the intensity that we needed in this game. 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.”
Certainly, 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.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC PUTS THE USMNT AHEAD MINUTES AFTER SUBBING ON 🤯pic.twitter.com/ZVqUzJ1sRZ — ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 13, 2021
He added: "But when we brought in Christian, it gave the team a boost. 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.