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FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Christian Pulisic's availability worries USA

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen are among 20 players who could make World Cup qualifying debuts.

Published: 27th August 2021 04:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2021 04:43 PM   |  A+A-

Christian Pulisic warms up ahead of the EPL soccer match between Chelsea and West Ham

Chelsea's American star Christian Pulisic. (File photo| AP)

By Associated Press

NEW YORK: Christian Pulisic's availability for the United States' opening World Cup qualifier remains unclear following his positive COVID test.

The top American player was on the 26-man roster announced Thursday for the first three qualifiers after missing Chelsea’s match at Arsenal last weekend. The US starts at El Salvador on Sept. 2.

"It's going to be just day-to-day, seeing where he's at," US coach Gregg Berhalter said. “He's still under quarantine conditions in England, and we're going to have to get him stateside once he clears the quarantine and assess him. It's really to tell if he will be available for the 2nd, for the 5th or for the 8th."

The 22-year-old Pulisic is scheduled to report Sunday.

“There's a lot of tests that he needs to go through before he arrives,” Berhalter said.

Pulisic is among six veterans of the 2017 team that failed to qualify for the World Cup, ending a streak of seven straight appearances for the US Other holdovers include Kellyn Acosta, John Brooks, Sebastian Lletget, Tim Ream and DeAndre Yedlin.

Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen are among 20 players who could make World Cup qualifying debuts.

The US roster will average 24 years, 43 days, and 18 international appearances when training starts Monday in Nashville, Tennessee. Under the compacted schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the US travels to El Salvador on Wednesday for the opener, hosts Canada in Nashville on Sept. 5 and plays Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Sept. 8.

There will be three more qualifiers from Oct. 7-13, two from Nov. 12-16 and three each in from Jan. 27-Feb. 2 and March 24-30. The Americans had three draws and two losses on the road in qualifying for 2018.

The top three teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the No. 4 team advances to a playoff for a berth. The final round was expanded from six nations to eight because of the pandemic and the start delayed a year.

Ten of the players are on teams that qualified for the European Champions League, led by Pulisic of defending champion Chelsea. He is joined by Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Sergiño Dest, Weston McKennie, Jordan Pefok, Gio Reyna, Zack Steffen and Tim Weah. Two others on Champions League teams did not make the roster: Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards and Club Brugge midfielder Owen Otasowie.

“I talk about the progress we've made as a team, a lot of it has to do with the individuals, as well, and the level that they've been playing at.” Berhalter said.



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