There is a lot of pressure on young Christian Pulisic’s shoulder — which could be a problem as current Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri seems to believe that players must be sheltered from pressure by the safety of the bench, but I digress.
Let’s start again. Pulisic may be couple years older than Callum Hudson-Odoi, but he’s dealing with a couple times more pressure than the teenager. There’s the pressure of the price tag of his agreed summer move to Chelsea. There’s the pressure of trying to break Bayern’s stranglehold on the Bundesliga before then. And there’s the pressure of the entire United States of America, of him being the great soccering hope of a nation desperately in need of a superstar in the sport.
What were YOU doing and dealing with at age 20?
Pulisic seems to be handling it all rather well — except when playing FIFA 19 — which is partly why these pressures exist in the first place. His meteoric rise has been slowed by a few injuries this season, which have added yet another layer, and that was before the whole Chelsea episode transpired in January as well. But he’s now all good, both physically and mentally and ready to take on the rest of the Bundesliga season.
“It’s been pretty crazy. We started off so strong and unfortunately I’ve had some injuries on and off throughout the season, which has been a low point for me. I’ve been working on that and trying to keep myself healthy for the rest of the season. But it’s been really exciting, and I’m super excited to be there for the rest of the season and fight for the title.”
”I feel very confident right now, I’m feeling very good. I feel I’m at the top of my game.”
”My teammates are all professionals. They understand how this business works. I wanted to move and they’re all very happy for me and the club is as well. But they also understand that I’m there to give 120 percent the rest of the season because I want to win just as bad as all the guys in the locker room. It’s not weird at all.”
BVB’s lead has evaporated over the last few months, with Bayern winning 13 of 14 since the start of December to now sit at the top of the Bundesliga once again, albeit only on goal difference. Bayern will host BVB in a couple weeks (April 6), in what will likely be the title decider.
Meanwhile, back home in America, Pulisic is set to be the face of the sport, of European football, if he isn’t already. New USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is literally building his national team around him, either as a no.10 in a 4-2-3-1 or as one of the wide forwards in a Conte-esque 3-4-3 or maybe even the most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3 — Pulisic can run and press with the best of them, can use his quickness to beat players 1-v-1, and certainly has an eye for a goal or a pass.
“Obviously I don’t mind where I play on the field, I just like to be in a good attacking areas where I can create and help the team score goals because that’s where I feel I’m at my best.”
Pulisic, alongside fellow Chelsea loanee Matt Miazga, has made Berhalter’s first proper selection and is certainly looking forward to applying himself under the new coach and making sure that the team don’t miss another major competition like their spectacular failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“I want them to think of [us] as a real world force, a team that has a chance against anyone in the world. I don’t want them to just see them as, ‘Oh , it’s just the U.S.’ I want them to fear [us] like a big team. That’s our goal. We want to be respected around the world. We’re going to continue to work at that. Obviously, we feel we still have a long way to go, but we’re going to continue to learn and grow as a team.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: ESPN
That sort of attitude will certainly be useful at Chelsea, too, especially if we somehow manage to hang on to both Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi while adding Pulisic into the mix.