“Christian is officially at this stage ruled out,” Coach Gregg Berhalter said. “This was a collaborative decision with [Chelsea], looking after the best interest of the player. These decisions are always difficult because this group and the coaching staff want nothing more than to have Christian here, but it was a risk we weren’t willing to take at this time.”
Pulisic’s absence is a massive setback for the U.S. squad, which must win both games to win the lightly regarded, three-team group, avoid further international embarrassment and advance to the semifinals of the Concacaf event next year.
Pulisic, 21, solidified his starting role in recent weeks for Chelsea, which, despite fielding a young lineup, has won six straight in league competition to rise to third behind Liverpool and Leicester City.
From Chelsea’s standpoint, the time-off will allow Pulisic to avoid making the situation worse and increase his chances of regaining fitness in time for the Premier League visit to two-time defending champion Manchester City on Nov. 23 and a UEFA Champions League game four days later at Valencia.
Pulisic was not the first U.S. starter affected by injury: German-based goalkeeper Zack Steffen is using the international window to rest a right knee afflicted with tendinitis. Atlanta’s Brad Guzan, the most experienced keeper in the U.S. player pool, is expected to start instead.
Midfielder Michael Bradley was scheduled to join the U.S. squad after competing for Toronto FC in MLS Cup on Sunday, but he withdrew because of an ankle injury.
Forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan, from MLS champion Seattle, were added to the squad, which began workouts last week with MLS players in Bradenton, Fla., and welcomed European-based arrivals the past two days.
Forward Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake) and defender Chase Gasper (Minnesota United) departed camp over the weekend.
Toronto striker Jozy Altidore, who made his playoff debut Sunday as a substitute after missing several weeks with a quadriceps injury, was not selected because of his lack of action lately.
The roster features 15 players from MLS teams and eight from Europe: Germany (four), England (two), Netherlands and Turkey (one apiece). Eighteen players took part in the U.S. camp and matches last month.
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution).
Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles FC).
Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget (L.A. Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düesseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes).
Forwards: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyassi Zardes (Columbus Crew).