Premium: Mission Accomplished (Until November)
On a Night of Many Emotions, the USMNT (Draw Pot 2) Clinches a Berth in World Cup 2022
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — Christian Pulisic had been waiting for this day for the longest time. When he was a kid in Hershey, Pa., he’d fantasize about playing in the World Cup and scoring a last-minute goal for the United States. That was the dream—the main one, at least—even ahead of winning the UEFA Champions League, which he has already done now.
But on October 10, 2017, Pulisic saw his dream deferred in the most traumatic of ways. The U.S. lost to Trinidad and Tobago, eliminating the Americans from qualifying for World Cup 2018. It was the biggest failure in U.S. Soccer history, and one of the lasting images for anyone who saw it that night was the 19-year-old Pulisic in the showers, fully clothed, with his hands in his face, crying.
Pulisic, now 23, and his USMNT qualified for World Cup 2022 here on Wednesday night. It didn’t come in ideal circumstances—a 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica—but while he was bothered by losing, Pulisic knew the big picture mattered more. Much more. The nightmare of that day in 2017 will always be with him, but four and a half years later Pulisic and his teammates had responded in the best way possible: by earning their World Cup ticket through 14 qualifying games in eight countries over an arduous six-month schedule.
“I think we can do a lot of damage, man,” Pulisic said of the World Cup on Wednesday. “I think we’re a confident bunch of guys, and I think the country will get behind us. And we’re going to give everything we’ve got.”