Almost one year ago, the Premier League announced Project Restart. That was the initiative by the Premier League to finish the remaining matches for a season that had been suddenly halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it would be almost two months later, in mid-June, when Christian Pulisic would dazzle Chelsea fans with this hot, summer form. A stretch of matches where Pulisic finally displayed consistent goal scoring form.
The ‘Summer of Pulisic’ or ‘Hot Pulisic Summer’ sprung out of seemingly nowhere, as the months prior to the stoppage in games saw Pulisic’s form and body waver between good, bad, healthy, and injured.
Accolades were laid upon the young American, including comparisons to former talisman, Eden Hazard, of which Pulisic downplayed before tonight’s match against Real Madrid. Moreover, the hope was that Pulisic would build upon his summer form. However, his hamstring injury in the FA Cup final at the end of last season proved to be a rather unfortunate roadblock.
Pulisic’s form this season has somewhat eerily mirrored that of last season. He’s gone through rough patches of form. He’s earned his minutes with two different managers, and with Thomas Tuchel, has slowly grown in favor these last few matches.
He’s impacting games in ways similar to his form last summer, and also that of the ghost of Hazard. Against Porto, his influence on the match was immense, so much that despite Porto’s efforts to foul him, Pulisic got right back up and continued to push the attack.
In tonight’s match, he was fouled consistently by veteran left-back Marcelo. He earned six fouls in total, but was on the receiving end of many more kicks from the Brazilian defender.
Perhaps more importantly, Pulisic delivered today a goal in what was undoubtedly the biggest match in his young Chelsea career. His score was masterfully taken, timing his run perfectly from Antonio Rüdiger’s ball over the top, collecting his composure and dribbling around Madrid’s big
snake goalkeeper who had slithered its way off the goal line, and firing a shot between the opposing defenders into goal.
Pulisic’s goal against Madrid is his fifth goal in the Champions League, the most ever for an American player, and the first ever by an US player in the competition’s semifinal. But most importantly it is an away goal in a knockout, which may prove to be the deciding factor in the tie.
“When I turned I didn’t expect to be so free. The control could’ve been even better but I kinda turned and noticed I was 1v1 with the keeper. I took my time with it. Nice goal.”
However, there are still ninety minutes to play next week in London against a likely incensed Madrid side.
“[…] [The goal] is a proud moment but the job’s nowhere near done.
“We were disappointed obviously. We need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal and we could’ve put the game away a bit earlier […] It’s a good result. We’re going to take it. We’ll be prepared for next week. We’re not disappointed at all. We’re a positive bunch of guys.”
-Christian Pulisic, Source: NBC Sports
Tuchel has stated that he’s going to lean into a more stabilized lineup as the season winds down, and it would appear that Pulisic is going to play a big part for the remaining big matches.
It was also at the time of a season winding down that Pulisic set himself up for a big summer. Now we can only hope summer comes early this year.