These Colors Don't Run

Christian Pulisic celebrating the USMNT’s big win from the hospital after getting his you-know-whats crushed is what America is all about

November 30, 2022

In the 38th-minute of Tuesday’s win-or-go home Group B finale for the USMNT, Weston McKennie took possession in deep midfield and floated a perfect ball over the top to a streaking Sergino Dest down the right wing. Dest headed the ball back across goal where star forward Christian Pulisic was making a late run, arriving just in time to stab the ball home for the USMNT’s first and, crucially, only goal of the night. While the celebrations unfolded, however, Pulisic remained down in the Iran net. Replays showed that in the process of the goal, he had collided with the Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, taking the full force Beiranvand’s knee to one of the number-one area of the male body you least want to take the full force of a knee.

Pulisic returned to the field before halftime, but when the USMNT emerged for the second half, Captain America was nowhere to be found, neither on the pitch nor the bench. Eventually word came down that Pulisic had been transported to a local hospital to be evaluated for an “abdominal injury.” The hearts and minds of American soccer fans sunk. Would he be able to go for the Netherlands on Saturday should the US hold on? Would he pass on the operating table, gone too soon like Abraham Lincoln before him? Thankfully, as the final whistle blew, we got our answer when Pulisic checked in from his hospital bed at the final whistle, rooting the boys on in what is being called the most American sports moment in the history of America’s least favorite sport.

Pulisic was soon diagnosed with a “pelvic contusion”—doctor speak for crushed nuts—but was discharged in time to welcome the team back to the hotel, gingerly accepting hugs from his elated and exhausted teammates.

Pulisic says he’ll be ready to take down the Dutch come Saturday morning. That remains to be seen, but even if he can’t go, one thing is certain:

Christian Pulisic left his mark on the 2022 World Cup … and the 2022 World Cup left its mark on Christian Pulisic.