Christian Pulisic’s impressive debut season with English Premier League side Chelsea has not only gotten club fans excited, but also the fans of the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Pulisic has made the most of his season so far in England after moving from Borussia Dortmund last summer. The 21-year-old has registered nine goals and nine assists in all competitions, but most importantly is back to full fitness and brimming with confidence.
With the USMNT set to eventually kick off World Cup Qualifying, the goal for Pulisic and the rest of Gregg Berhalter’s squad will be to return to the tournament after not qualifying for the 2018 edition. Pulisic endured the disappointment of failing to qualify for the last World Cup and is ready to do whatever he can to lead the USMNT to the 2022 edition in Qatar.
“I definitely want to take more of a leadership role,” Pulisic said on the SiriusXM FC program, Counter Attack. “I’ve been through the Qualifying process before, we weren’t so successful last time around, but being in Concacaf nothing is given to you. We have to go to different countries and play these tough games, but nothing is stopping us this time around. We’re going to be confident and I need every player on that roster to believe we can get back to a World Cup.”
“It’s 100% going to take every player on the roster, not just us three [Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams],” Pulisic said. “I think there is a lot of talent there and we’ve started a little earlier with the National Team than others, but overall we’re all going to need to be leaders no matter what it is.”
The first-half of Pulisic’s season saw the playmaker start slow, but eventually come into his own. A first-career hat trick against Burnley was a key highlight for Pulisic while also appearing in the UEFA Champions League for his new club.
An adductor injury suffered on New Years Day against Brighton & Hove Albion forced Pulisic to miss the next 12 matches for Chelsea before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season. Over five months after his last appearance in the Blue and White, Pulisic looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, scoring in back-to-back wins over Aston Villa and Manchester City.
Pulisic has been Chelsea’s top player since the restart, scoring three goals while also adding one assist and winning one penalty kick. With an FA Cup, possible UCL title, and a top-four league finish left to play for this season, Pulisic is remaining fully confident in himself and his teammates.
“That injury was really tough for me, I was just about to come back into training and then we had the lockdown,” Pulisic said. “I was really let down by that, but I made sure to put in the work at home to be ready when we opened things back up. I wanted to be more ready than anyone else on that field when the first game took place. First game back I got a goal so my confidence was high and it’s been going up from there.”
“I try to take it game by game, it’s hard to look at the bigger picture and trying to grind out performances. Every game here is huge, we have three different competitions and we want to play more games. We have to beat Man United to get to a Cup Final, we need to finish strong in the Premier League, and Bayern won’t be easy, but we aren’t going to give up on that at all.”
After four seasons in the German Bundesliga with Dortmund, Pulisic was ready for the new challenge of coming to England with an historic club like Chelsea. So far he’s met all expectations in his first season, totaling career highs in goals and assists in all competitions with plenty of opportunities left this season.
Moving to a new country brought new challenges for Pulisic, but ultimately the impact and relationships with his teammates has been comforting and rewarding both on and off the field.
“Coming to Chelsea was my first big move so I really didn’t know what to expect,” Pulisic said. “I went into camp with an open mind and of course there were some nerves, but I wanted to prove I could play here. My teammates have been great to me and whenever you come into a new club you aren’t going to make friends right away and thats okay, but once I showed I could play I started to get a better relationship with my teammates. Having confidence from your teammates and coaches is big and I can benefit my recent success to that.”
“Chelsea is a massive club and growing up I wanted to play in the English Premier League. The winning mentality, the history of the club, that all went into the decision. I couldn’t pass up on it, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I don’t regret it one bit.”
Pulisic will next look to propel Chelsea into the FA Cup Final with a victory over Manchester United this Sunday before concluding his first EPL season with matches against Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers.