Pulisic leaving U.S. camp; Reyna set for debut

    Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.

United States midfielder Christian Pulisic will not play in Thursday’s friendly against Wales, and was set to leave camp on Wednesday night as he recuperates from a hamstring injury, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced.

The Chelsea midfielder had always been unlikely to play in the match in Swansea, Wales, after sustaining the injury while warming up prior to his club’s match against Burnley on Oct. 31, and later suffering a setback in training.

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But U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter was eager to see Pulisic in person, having not had his first-choice group together in more than a year. Pulisic arrived in camp, which is being held in Cardiff, Wales, last weekend.

“[Pulisic] had a great three or four days with the team,” Berhalter said during a video call with reporters. “He was able to get treated, and able to be with the guys, connect with the staff again. It was great to see him. Unfortunately, he won’t be taking part in the match.”

Pulisic’s departure means he will miss out on the likely debut of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna — son of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna — as well as the returns of Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie and RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams. This quartet of players is expected to form the core of the side for years to come.

“[Pulisic] is a player that we’re certainly going to miss, and with his quality we wish we could have him on the field, but that’s not going to happen,” Berhalter said.

For his part, the 17-year-old Reyna said he doesn’t plan to alter his game in Pulisic’s absence.

“I think I just have to play my game like I always try to do, like I’ve done with Dortmund so far,” Reyna said, “I think if I can emulate what I did at Dortmund so far this season here, I think I can be successful here, too.

“Of course, I’m, we’re gonna miss Christian, obviously. He’s such a good player and he always offers so much for us. It’s unfortunate that he can’t play, but I think for me, it was always just trying to help the team get involved and obviously try to score goals in the system.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard previously called Pulisic’s hamstring injury “very, very minor.” Pulisic most recently played on Oct. 28, when he scored a 90th-minute goal in a 4-0 Champions League group-stage win against Krasnodar.

He has no goals in three Premier League games this season after tallying nine goals and four assists in 25 matches in his debut campaign with Chelsea in 2019-20.

Pulisic has not played for the U.S. since October 2019. The next FIFA international window is scheduled for March.

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