On January 2nd 2019, Christian Pulisic signed with Chelsea for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund, the most expensive transfer for any American player. The “Wonder Boy” was supposed to make the game of soccer popular in a country where sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and hockey are more respected. His two-goal performance in a preseason match at Red Bull Salzburg was supposed to be a glimpse of what the future of U.S. soccer could become. Instead, Pulisic’s performances have caused several debates whether or not his move to The Blues was the right decision.
After making his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, Pulisic started his first game for Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup match against Liverpool. He made an immediate impact on his Blues’ starting debut with an assist on an Olivier Giroud goal, but Chelsea lost to the Champions League winners 5-4 in a penalty shootout. Pulisic’s performance in the match earned him starts in a few games for the club in the Premier League. However, Pulisic’s performance’s in those games not only lost him a starting gig but would wound up causing him not feature in several games for The Blues.
Pulisic’s inconsistent playing time caused several fans to be concerned over the move to Chelsea, with some already stating how this was the wrong decision for the 21-year-old American phenomenon. Comparing his play to other young Chelsea talents such as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Callum Hudson-Odoi, fans were worried over Pulisic’s play compared to those around him. However, players such as Abraham, Mount, and Hudson-Odoi have been a part of the Chelsea system since their youth days and Mount played under current manager and club legend Frank Lampard at Derby County last season. So, while Pulisic may not have had the same success as other young phenomenons for The Blues, it could just be a time issue and nothing more. In fact, in Pulisic’s last game for Chelsea, he had an assist on a late goal from Michy Batshuayi in a 4-1 victory at Southampton.
Ignoring his play for Chelsea, Pulisic also has had a string of mediocre games for the U.S. National Team as they compete in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. In Pulisic’s first game in the tournament he had a goal – albeit from the penalty spot – in a 7-0 thrashing against a weak Cuba squad at Audi Field in Washington D.C. However, in the team’s second game at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, the Americans were upset by the Canadians 2-0 win in the country’s first against their neighbors to the south since April 2, 1985. One of the big issues in the defeat was when manager Gregg Berhalter substituted Pulisic in the 60th minute for DC United’s Paul Arriola while the game was tied at zero, causing a wave of frustrations for the phenom.
This season has been tough for Pulisic in terms of league and international play as the pressure to be the face of American soccer is starting to take a toll on the young Pennsylvanian. Time will tell if his move to the Premier League giants will pay off in the end.