Christian Pulisic is motivated to prove his worth. You needed only hear him start to say the old adage of “I love to prove people wrong” on Wednesday to understand that.
Pulisic is back with the U.S. Men’s National Team for the first time since October 2019, and there seems to be a real fire in his belly ahead of this week’s friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland. The 22-year-old winger has not had the best of times at Chelsea this season, struggling for consistent minutes for various reasons, but that has made him hungry to remind everyone what he is capable of.
“I would say it has not been the easiest thing,” said Pulisic of his recent role with Chelsea. “Obviously, I am a guy that always want to play, but I think I am on a really good path. I think I definitely like to take on challenges and I love to prove people — not prove people wrong — but prove myself right in a way and just continue to work hard.
“Coming into camp I am just excited to get more minutes and play for my country regardless of what is happening at the club level. I am just thrilled to be here and excited to represent this crest again.”
Pulisic sets up Emerson who scores 30 seconds after coming on. 💥 pic.twitter.com/AybxXkf1Nq
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) March 17, 2021
Club and international levels often go hand in hand, however, and Pulisic is clearly not at his top level right now. The talented American has not scored for his English Premier League club since December, and has been reduced to mostly sporadic substitute cameos despite being coached by a manager in Thomas Tuchel who is very familiar with Pulisic’s qualities.
The USMNT attacker has been gone through something like this before, though.
“I was in a similar situation when I first came to Chelsea,” said Pulisic. “I had to work my way and earn my position in the team and finally get some minutes. I feel like I did that and I feel like I am basically going out there and trying to do the same thing right now.”
Regardless of his club standing, Pulisic is still likely to be a prominent figure for the USMNT in the upcoming games. Not only will Thursday’s friendly vs. Jamaica in Austria mark the first time the star will put on his country’s jersey since Oct. 16, 2019, but it is also the first chance he will have to play alongside the likes of burgeoning talents like Giovanni Reyna and Yunus Musah.
Just in time, too, because important international matches like World Cup Qualifiers and Concacaf Gold Cup game are on the calendar for the rest of 2021.
“We are so excited to have him in camp,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. “It has been since October 2019. To get him back on the field is a great step forward. I know he has the resiliency to keep going and I know it is a matter of time before he breaks through (at Chelsea). He is a fantastic player and his qualities will show through.”
The USMNT is hoping that will happen again as soon as this week, starting on Thursday vs. the Reggae Boyz. The good news is that Pulisic — who has only scored twice for Chelsea in all competitions this season — has shown flashes of his best in some recent Chelsea outings and he believes his match sharpness and decision-making are currently at good levels.
What’s more, he is driven right now to make the most of the whatever opportunities he has.
“I feel very confident in my game at the moment,” said Pulisic. “I mean, I am always going to say that, but I do feel that way at the moment so I am really excited to test ourselves against these teams and hopefully help this team to win some games here.”