Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen will miss the opening of the World Cup qualifiers in El Salvador


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The star of the American men’s national team, Christian Pulisic, did not travel to El Salvador ahead of the qualifications for the World Cup on Thursday, confirmed head coach Gregg Berhalter.

Pulisic tested positive for COVID-19 last month, setting a race against time to be ready to open three qualifiers for the USMNT World Championships.

The Chelsea striker will not be able to face El Salvador, but he could still play against Canada on Sunday or Honduras next Wednesday.

Pulisic tries to get back quickly

After his diagnosis was confirmed, Pulisic contacted social media to confirm that he was fully vaccinated and that he had no symptoms.

Pulisic was forced to isolate himself in London, although he was still named on the USMNT roster for three qualifying matches.

DESCRIPTION: The USMNT is under more pressure than ever before the World Cup

The 22-year-old was able to travel this week to a meeting with teammates in Nashville, Tenn., Where he participated in team exercises.

But he stayed in Nashville while his teammates traveled to El Salvador on Wednesday.

Who could replace Pulisic?

Without Pulisic, Berhalter could give a start to Conrad de la Fuente, who got off to a good start in Marseille after a summer move from Barcelona.

The USA is skinny in the position of winger, and Tim Weah had to withdraw from the list due to injury. Brenden Aaronson, a more natural central player, could also be widespread for the United States

“We also miss Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris, so the four wings are now falling,” Berhalter said. “One of my concerns is verticality. When you think of Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola, Christian to some extent, Timmy Weah, they give you the verticality you need, which really threatens opponents, and when you think of a guy like Gio [Reyna] and potentially Conrad and Brendan, it’s harder for them.

“It’s something we really talk about with our wing group: stretching the opponent, verticality, using our pace, using our speed to lag behind the opponent because we know it’s an important part of our game.”

Jordan Pefok, Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi are three center forward options available to Berhalter.

Steffen also came out

Also off the field on Thursday was goalkeeper Zack Steffen, and Matt Turner was named USMNT starter.

Steffen had previously dealt with a back problem and woke up Wednesday morning from pain, which led to Berhalter’s decision to leave him in Nashville.

“It’s just crawling,” Berhalter said. “He was doing something like this before last season, but it’s something that has befallen him in the last few days.

“He woke up today and his back was very tight, and it will be really touching and go see if he can play any role in the game. We thought it best to leave him in rehab and try to run for Sunday.”

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