Christian Pulisic sacrificed his body to receive a cross from Sergiño Dest, colliding with Iran’s goalkeeper as he finished the first World Cup goal of his career to give the United States the lead — and ultimately a 1-0 victory — in a tense, must-win match against Iran.
Pulisic stayed down on the turf after the goal, which gave the United States the lead in a victory that eventually secured their spot in the knockout stage. While he managed to return to play for the rest of the first half, Pulisic was subbed out at the break with an abdominal injury — and all eyes will be on his recovery as the United States prepares to face the Netherlands in the next round.
At just 24 years old, Pulisic is the national team’s most accomplished player. With his club team, Chelsea in the Premier League, he became the first American to play in the Champions League final in 2021, when Chelsea captured the title. His semifinal goal made him the first American to score at that late stage.
To the renowned British club, however, he is regarded mostly as something nice to have. So far this season, he’s started three games for Chelsea and scored just once.
But to the United States national team, he’s crucial. The team’s captain, Pulisic is considered a bright star on a young team hoping to make waves at the World Cup.
Pulisic is the creative engine of the U.S. attack. In the World Cup opener, he was credited with crafting the U.S.’s first goal. In the 36th minute, Pulisic pierced through the center of the field, carrying the ball past multiple Welsh defenders and then finding Tim Weah in a run from the right, where he scored with just one touch.
Against Iran, Pulisic did not return after halftime and was replaced by Brenden Aaronson. But who will be in the lineup for the United States on Saturday against the Dutch team will be the biggest question facing the young U.S. squad.