Pulisic uncertain for World Cup qualifying after COVID

Christian Pulisic was on the 26-man roster announced on Thursday for the first three qualifiers despite his positive Covid test.

Christian Pulisic in action for USA in June against Mexico.   -  AP

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 on Thursday for the first three qualifiers after missing Chelsea’s match at Arsenal last weekend. The U.S. starts at El Salvador on September 2.

"It's going to be just day-to-day, seeing where he's at," U.S. 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."

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The 22-year-old Pulisic is scheduled to report on 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

“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.

Nine players are from MLS, six are based in England, three in Germany and two in France.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest, England), Zack Steffen (Manchester City, England), Matt Turner (New England).

Defenders: George Bello (Atlanta), John Brooks (Wolfsburg, Germany), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona, Spain), Mark McKenzie (Genk, Belgium), Tim Ream (Fulham, England), Antonee Robinson (Fulham, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta), James Sands (New York City), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray, Turkey), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville).

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado), Tyler Adams (Leipzig, Germany), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Italy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle).

Forwards: Brenden Aaronson (Salzburg, Austria), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille, France), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys, Switzerland), Ricardo Pepi (Dallas), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Josh Sargent (Norwich, England), Tim Weah (Lille, France).

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