Presumed starters Christin Pulisic and Zack Steffen will not take place in the opening World Cup qualifying match for the Unites States, as both were left in the Nashville, Tennessee basecamp due to lingering injuries.
Pulisic’s absence had been rumored throughout the day, after a fan video surfaced of him training alone in Nashville after the rest of the squad had departed for their flight to San Salvador.
This was confirmed by head coach Gregg Berhalter in the team’s pre-match press conference, with the vague explanation that he is being evaluated day-to-day.
The team’s captain was out of action for nearly two weeks immediately prior to his trip to the US due testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Even though he seemed to avoid any serious effects of the virus, the forced 10-day quarantine meant that he had no competitive action since Chelsea’s season-opening win over Crystal Palace on August 14, and could not properly train prior to arriving in Nashville a few days ago.
Alongside Pulisic, Berhalter also confirmed the surprising news that starting keeper Zack Steffen was also left stateside as he recovers from what are described as back spasms. In his place, New England Revolution keeper Matt Turner, who started every game in the Americans’ successful Gold Cup run this summer, will deputize against the Salvadorians, according to the coach.
As the backup keeper for Manchester City, Steffen has not seen too much competitive action since starting both the semifinal and final of the Nations League in June. His only competitive play since the final, where he left the game in the second half due to a knee knock, was in City’s Community Shield loss against Leicester City in early-August.
The rest of the team will open the grueling 14-game schedule in the so-called Octagon round in the Estadio Cuscatlan on Thursday night.