U.S. star Pulisic: ‘Ready to go’ win Gold Cup title

CINCINNATI — U.S. international midfielder Christian Pulisic joined up with his teammates on Friday ahead of this month’s Gold Cup, and spoke of how excited he is to be back, and also help the Americans defend their title.

Pulisic had been given some extra time off following the Bundesliga season, one that saw former club Borussia Dortmund finish in second place to Bayern Munich. Pulisic also made the rounds in London ahead of his debut season with Premier League side Chelsea. On Friday he trained mostly off to the side, though he did participate in a small-sided scrimmage towards the end of practice.

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“I feel great. I’m really excited to be back here with the guys,” he said following Friday’s session. “I felt good in my first training, my legs feel pretty good. I got a nice rest, but now I’m ready to go.”

The U.S. roster contains 10 players with previous Gold Cup experience, including nine who have a winners medal. Given the emphasis on youth that has characterized most U.S. sides over the last 18 months, Pulisic is pleased to see a veteran presence in the team.

“It’s nice to have some guys like Michael [Bradley] and Jozy [Altidore] here again,” he said. “It’s cool to mix them in. I think it’s a good balance. I think it’s important. It’s going to help the team moving forward, especially in this tournament.”

The U.S. is coming off a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Jamaica in a Gold Cup tune-up last Wednesday, though the match saw manager Gregg Berhalter experiment with personnel and tactics. The Americans will be hoping to deliver a sharper performance against Venezuela on Sunday.

“[Venezuela] is going to be a good opponent that’s going to test us, and just prepare us, and help us learn and be ready for the Gold Cup,” Pulisic said.

The U.S. enters the 2019 edition of the Gold Cup among the favorites, but is also still smarting from its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. When asked if the emphasis would be on building for the future or winning the tournament, Pulisic said he wants both.

“We want to build, we want to learn, and continue to grow within this team,” he said. “But when it comes down to it, it’s a tournament, and everyone wants to win. I would love to win it.”

The group stage will include a match against Trinidad & Tobago, the team whose 2-1 win over the U.S. eliminated the Americans from World Cup qualifying.

“It’s not going to change anything. Obviously, I want some revenge, I want to beat them,” said Pulisic. “The team is going to go out and give it everything. We want to win that game.”

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