Christian Pulisic’s struggle for playing time at Chelsea has dominated the conversation in American soccer circles in recent weeks, and while his standing at the English Premier League club may be in question, there is no change in his standing as the key figure for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Pulisic was one of a handful of USMNT players to take part in training on Monday, a travel day that saw several squad members arrive after Sunday matches. Pulisic took part in Monday’s training and looked to be in good spirits despite his recent struggles at Chelsea.
That is a welcome site for USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who isn’t too worried about Pulisic’s recent lack of playing time at Chelsea.
“We want Christian playing a big part of what we do. He’s a player that we believe in, and we’re patient,” Berhalter said at USMNT training on Monday. “We know things take time, and we know sometimes adapting to different leagues takes time as well. So we’re patient with his process. If he has a good process in place, which we believe he does, we think his quality will come through.”
Pulisic has fallen down the pecking order at Chelsea under Frank Lampard, with veterans Willian and Pedro, as well as younger options Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi all playing more than him in Chelsea’s wing positions in recent weeks.
Pulisic has made the most of the minutes he has received, most recently with his assist in Chelsea’s win over
“I’m not just going to throw a fit and give up ever,” Pulisic said after Sunday’s match. “So if I’m on the bench it doesn’t mean the gaffer doesn’t think I’m a part of the team, I’ve just got to keep pushing and earn my spot.
“I want to be starting, I want to be starting every game,” Pulisic added. “I’m working hard in training, I want to be there, I hope everyone can see that, so with moments like this I hope I can make a case for myself. He [Frank Lampard] likes players who work very hard and show a lot in training and I just have to continue to do that, do my best in training and try to earn my position.”
Part of the Pulisic’s early struggles could be attributed to him having to adapt to a new league and playing in a new country after starting his career in Germany playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Berhalter is no stranger to the challenges of being a player having to adjust to playing in new countries, have spent time during his playing career in the Netherlands, England and Germany. He understands the issues associated with playing in a new country, but Berhalter was quick to point out that what Pulisic is dealing with, in terms of expectations and pressure at Chelsea, is uncharted territory for an American player.
“I haven’t faced anything close to what he’s facing,” Berhalter said. “He’s at Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and there’s a different level of pressure on him. In terms of adapting from the style of play from one country to another, what I’d say is you just have to get used to it. You have to take in information. You have to start understanding what makes the style of play effective in that country, and try to integrate as fast as possible.
“It is something you just need to get used to, and it takes time,” Berhalter said. “I think all of us, we want to rush things sometimes, myself included, but this is a case where he’s quality and his time will come.”