Christian Pulisic has been reflecting recently on what’s been a very up-and-down sort of season at Chelsea, even relative to what’s been a very up-and-down sort of career at the club since his arrival in 2019.
In fact, he’s featured in barely half our games this season (19 of 39), starting just 10 times in all competitions. And even when he’s played, he’s been played in a wide variety of positions, including center forward and even wing-back. It’s good to be versatile, but it’s hard to gain any rhythm with the constant shifting and changing — and that’s before we consider the disruptions caused by injuries or international commitments.
For the 23-year-old himself, that’s been the biggest problem this season, the lack of rhythm. He’s hardly alone in that sense on the team of course, but perhaps affected by it more than most.
“I was very ready to play [against Al-Hilal]. I wanted to play so of course I was upset that I didn’t. [...] I’m feeling good and I don’t worry about injuries when I play or anything like that.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs. I have been on and off playing, different positions, kind of being moved around. It has been a tough ride for me personally, to be honest, and I am just trying to get back into some rhythm, get into the run of things.”
Those sorts of comments can easily be (mis)construed into something dramatic, but Pulisic’s frustrations seem to be purely sporting and perhaps largely a result of fates conspiring a bit against him as well — nothing that probably couldn’t be improved by a good run in the team.
“I think [Tuchel and I] have had a good enough relationship where we’ve been able to accomplish things together and I’ve been able to play at times. Now, I’m hoping to get back on that streak.
“I don’t think it is a bad quality necessarily to be versatile but for whatever reason, I haven’t been given the full chance to be in one position and gain some rhythm which is hard at times, which I would like at times, but it is part of the sport I guess.”
Pulisic missed 14 straight games earlier this season, then made an appearance in 17 of 19 games, but has now gone four in a row without any minutes, including in Wednesday’s Cup World Cup semifinal win over Al Hilal. As any top professional, of course he wants to play and is unhappy when he doesn’t. And in his case, that’s also compounded by the all the pressure put on him as the great big hope of US Soccer.
But he’s fully focused on Chelsea’s quest to win all the trophies.
“Winning games and winning trophies as a team is what really matters for me. This last year has been incredible for example with the Champions League and now a chance to win this. That’s always the biggest thing. [And] I’m focused at Chelsea and I’m enjoying it. I’m just trying to help the team to win games at the minute.”
“We are taking [the Club World Cup] seriously. For us, it is another trophy that we 100% want to win. You have to win the Champions League to get here, and now we have the ability to play a semifinal and a final. Once you are here, especially when you see everything going on and there’s a trophy at hand, everyone’s onboard and we definitely want to win.”
-Christian Pulisic; source: ESPN
Let’s get it!