Christian Pulisic is on fire. The American scored again, helping Chelsea to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace today.
5 goals in his last 3 games
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) November 9, 2019
Pulisic has now scored in three straight Premier League games. The five goals he has so far this season are the most he’s ever had in a domestic campaign. This would be his third straight Man of the Match performance statistically on WhoScored as well.
Pulisic’s overall output from today is outstanding. He registered 6 shots on goal, 5 completed dribbles, won 2 aerials, and delivered 5 key passes. He did suffer what appears to be a minor hip injury though and came off the pitch after scoring.
The win makes it six in a row for Chelsea. They last lost domestically on September 22nd to Liverpool. Chelsea move to second in the table with 26 points, one more than Manchester City.
Of course, that could change tomorrow as Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield.
Americans Abroad Round-Up Coming
As we head into another international break, look for an Americans Abroad round up early this coming week. From Sergino Dest to Weston McKennie and others, we’ll provide data on all key US internationals so far this season.
So, this Christian Pulisic kid might be pretty good afterall?
The American is coming on strong lately. He netted his fourth Premier League goal of the season today in helping Chelsea go 2-0 up on Watford.
Christian Pulisic goal vs Watford
Pulisic perfectly timed his run to receive a laser-perfect pass from Tammy Abraham in the 55th minute.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) November 2, 2019
Abraham has equally been on fire. He scored the opener for Chelsea in the fifth minute.
The four goals equals Pulisic’s all-time domestic total from the Bundesliga. However, it’s taken him only 8 games to reach 4 in the EPL. In his best Bundesliga year, it took him 20 matches.
Christian Pulisic's goalscoring record in the league by season:
2015/16: 9 games, 2 goals
2016/17: 29 games, 3 goals
2017/18: 32 games, 4 goals
2018/19: 20 games, 4 goals
2019/20: 8 games, 4 goals
Already matches his season best. pic.twitter.com/DhNXKlbbMh
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2019
Those Christian Pulisic goal prop bets don’t seem so outrageous suddenly. Oddsmakers set the line at what at the time seemed a ridiculous 9.5. He could be there by the end of the festive period at this rate.
The American scored his first career EPL goal in the 21st minute, then added another just before halftime.
He made it a hat trick on a ridiculous header in the 56th minute. After a poor clearance of a corner by Burnley gave Mason Mount another chance, Mount’s perfect cross into the box found Pulisic, who used the back (!) of his head to beat Burnley keeper Nick Pope.
It was hard to say which of Pulisic’s goals was most impressive. On the first one, he took on multiple Burnley defenders, then managed to slide a low left-footed shot past all three of them, plus Pope, to make it 1-0. The opportunity was created by Pulisic, and he finished it himself. I give that goal a slight edge over his header.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 26, 2019
The second goal Pulisic scored came with his right foot, again after an impressive display of dribbling. This time, though, he was the beneficiary of his shot’s fortunate deflection off a defender.
A career week
Pulisic’s heroics came three days after he came on late as a sub vs. Ajax on the road in the Champions League. All he did in that one was create the chance that became the game-winner with a strong move and a perfect pass into Michy Batshuayi.
Let’s just say that Pulisic has probably earned a spot in the Chelsea XI for at least the next few games. Frank Lampard certainly has his options up top, but he had to be thrilled with his results from the 4-2-3-1 he employed against Burnley, with Tammy Abraham as a striker and a five-man midfield. From left to right, Pulisic, Mount and Willian filled the attacking midfield positions.
Chelsea led 4-0 after 58 minutes on a strike from Willian before Burnley scored twice in garbage time to account for the final score.
Christian Pulisic needs to earn some starting minutes for Chelsea, stat. The American came on in the 66th minute for Willian and did what he’s been doing all season: creating chances that lead to goals.
In the 86th minute with the game tied 0-0, Pulisic dribbled into the box and found Michy Batshuayi (who subbed in for Tammy Abraham) for the winner.
PULISIC ➡️ BATS pic.twitter.com/j2AVlmuBil
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) October 23, 2019
We’re big on body language, and it certainly looks like Frank Lampard is gaining confidence in Pulisic.
Pulisic was dynamic throughout his time on the field. Along with the assist, he got two shots off, completed 90% of his passes and was dynamic on ball.
The 1-0 win over Ajax moves Chelsea atop Group H.
Christian Pulisic had another strong showing off the bench for Chelsea today.
The American came on in the 64th minute for a struggling Mason Mount and immediately starting making an impact. He had a penetrating dribble into the box leading to a hockey assist for Marcos Alonso’s winning goal.
Pulisic has been dynamite today. But how could that be? I was informed he had the flu 😒😒😒 pic.twitter.com/TiRsXiqdBX
— Future USMNT (@FutureUsmnt) October 19, 2019
This coming off another bench appearance for Chelsea last match where he tallied an assist.
In all, Pulsic played 26 minutes. He got one shot off, completed 89% of his passes, and even won 2 aerials.
Credit to Pulisic for putting his USMNT struggles behind him.
Christian Pulisic, the best US men’s soccer prospect ever, the team’s #10, captain, and best field player, was subbed off by Gregg Berhalter in the 60th minute of the USMNT’s embarrassing 2-0 to Canada.
Pulisic was responsible for four of the five US shots on goal up until that point. His reaction to being subbed off by Berhalter, an under-qualified nepotistic hire, sums up all US soccer fans’ emotions tonight.
USA coach Gregg Berhalter: Christian Pulisic subbed because he’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms. pic.twitter.com/McUYeXVJqm
— The Blues (@TheBlues___) October 16, 2019
Full video including from when he was subbed here.
In a game that looked like a casual shooting practice, the USMNT crushed Cuba 7-0 on Friday night.
It was a good night for the American youngsters at the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. Weston McKennie, who was deployed as a left-mid, recorded a hat-trick in just 13 minutes. Josh Sargent became only the 10th US teenager to earn his 10th cap before turning 20. He recorded one goal but was a force offensively throughout the night. Most encouraging was the soccer IQ he displayed. In the opening minute, he made a veteran-savvy run to draw two Cuban defenders with him, leaving McKennie open for an easy goal.
Jordan Morris and Christian Pulisic (via pk) also scored.
All USMNT goals vs Cuba
Here are all of the goals from USMNT vs Cuba.
So everything is good with the USMNT now, right?
Cuba is ranked 178th in the world. The US did what they were supposed to do. As the Wolf would say in Pulp Fiction, let’s not start…
However, this was a good sign. If they can build on this and secure a convincing victory against Canada, Berhalter may finally have the spark he needs to get the US program moving in the right direction.
While the squad will be missing Ajax regular Sergino Dest (possibly forever), most of the other major US squad members currently playing in Europe were called up this go-around.
Let’s check in on how they’re progressing this season.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
Stats: 5 games (3 starts) in Premier League, 287 minutes, 0 goals & 2 assists, 6.73 WhoScored
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Christian Pulisic’s playing time at Chelsea.
Pulisic has fallen out of favor with manager Frank Lampard for a variety of reasons, none of which are panic-button-inducing (yet).
Just like last season at Borussia Dortmund when Jadon Sancho’s emergence (along with a series of injuries) knocked Pulisic from regular starting XI duties, this season sees the American ceding time to stars new and old. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham have emerged as Chelsea’s best players. Jorginho, Willian and Pedro all deserve minutes. Pulisic has not been bad at all. He’s just been bang average so far.
If the constant pressure and questions about playing time don’t break him down, he’ll emerge from this stronger.
Zack Steffen, Fortuna Duesseldorf
Stats: 7 games in Bundesliga, 630 minutes, 1 clean sheet, 7.17 WhoScored
Zack Steffen is on loan from Manchester City to Fortuna Duesseldorf in the Bundesliga.
City rarely whiff on well-known prospects, and they clearly saw something in Steffen. Until last week, he was statistically the best goalkeeper in all of Europe. He’s been the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga for the past month.
Nobody is displacing Ederson or his giant neck tattoo at City any time soon. Don’t be surprised if Steffen is old to a big club this summer.
Matt Miazga, Reading
Stats: 6 games in English Championship (2nd division), 462 minutes, 6.88 WhoScored
Matt Miazga has been pretty solid for relegation candidate Reading this season.
While still prone to the occasional lapses in concentration, Miazga gets it done on the pitch. He’s been a monster winning aerials (over 5 per game) and on clearances (5.3 per game). Miazga is Reading’s best defensive player this season. He’s the best center-back option on Berhalter’s squad (yes, over Aaron Long).
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle
Stats: 2 games (1 start) in Premier League, 106 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored
DeAndre Yedlin is only 26 but seems like he’s been around forever now. It also seems like he’s been injured forever.
Coming back again from injury, Yedlin is just re-integrating into his Newscastle squad. He’s a physically solid and focused player when fit and should be the starting right-back for the USMNT. At 26, he’s in his prime the next year or two. For his sake and the USMNT, let’s hope he stays healthy.
Tim Ream, Fulham
Stats: 10 games in Championship, 900 minutes, 6.68 WhoScored
At 32, Tim Ream actually has been around forever.
The left-back has been solid though not “Matt Miazga solid” for Championship side Fulham. What he lacks in traditional defensive metrics like tackles won, aerials, and clearances he makes up for with his build-from-the-back qualities.
Regardless, it would be odd (or a poor testament to upcoming US defensive talent) for Ream to earn starter minutes through this next Olympics and World Cup cycle.
Weston McKennie, Schalke 04
Stats: 7 games (5 starts) in Bundesliga, 504 minutes, 6.59 WhoScored
The book on Weston McKennie isn’t complicated. Start him at defensive center-mid and he’ll shine. Start him elsewhere and he’ll disappoint.
He’s performed at bordering on elite-esque levels in his three starts at defensive center-mid for Schalke. When put in a more attacking role, he hasn’t been comfortable.
Given his proclivity at dark defensive arts, it’d be interesting to see Berhalter give McKennie some center-back minutes. Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco tried McKennie there with positive results. However, that level of experimentation and out-of-the-box thinking isn’t Berhalter’s forte.
Tyler Boyd, Besiktas
Stats: 5 games (4 starts) in Turkey’s Super Lig, 267 minutes, 6.14 WhoScored
No way to sugar coat this one: Tyler Boyd hasn’t been that good for Besiktas (i.e. Loris Karius’s club) this season.
He’s contributed nothing offensively. No goals. No assists. Less than one shot per game. Just .2 key passes per game.
Not all of this is entirely his fault. The 24 year-old hasn’t played one match in the same position this season. It’s hard to build continuity and chemistry when you’re constantly shifted around the pitch.
Boyd definably does one thing well: finish. He’ll need help from his teammates getting him the ball in blocks of space where he can rip shots off. Otherwise, he doesn’t add much right now.
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
Stats: 6 games (4 starts) in Bundesliga, 352 minutes, 1 goal & 1 assist, 6.62 WhoScored
Josh Sargent is 19. He’s (sometimes) starting as a center-forward for a mid-table Bundesliga squad. These things are all positives.
While he’s only scored one domestic goal this season, it was a dazzler.
Berhalter should start Sargent up top both Nations League friendly matches. Sargent is the striker of the future (for now) for the USMNT. Especially if Jozy Altitore is injured, Sargent is the best option.
Of course, Berhalter will start Gyasi Zardes instead.
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig
We’d be remiss not to mention one of the most promising of the entire bunch, Tyler Adams.
The 20 year-old RB Leipzig stand-out has been injured since May (he won’t be participating in the Nations League). However, it sounds like he’s set for a return at the end of this month.
Adams posted impressive numbers after moving to the Bundesliga last season. He could prove to be the compliment needed to unlock Pulisic, Sargent et al during this cycle.
He finds himself reduced to the bench, with Frank Lampard trusting his academy disciples’ to get the job done instead. Failing to start with such a big price-tag over his head is inviting doubts, even though his manager has backed him to take time adapting to the Premier League’s intensity.
Nonetheless, Pulisic isn’t getting the playing time he–or his American fans–would like to see. This happened to him last season at Borussia Dortmund as Jadon Sancho emerged as the German squad’s top attacking option.
The good news for Pulisic is he’s not the first high-priced player to take time adapting to the Premier League. Liverpool’s defensive center-mid Fabinho struggled to earn minutes and find quality on the pitch early last season. He’s now one of the first names on the sheet.
Here are three things Pulisic can do to break into Chelsea’s starting XI.
1. Be More Clever With His Movement
While he might have all the technical skill in the world, Pulisic will never be able to win over Lampard unless he starts working harder. He can’t expect to be prioritized ahead of the others if he doesn’t display his work-rate in chasing down opponents, pressing them high up or intercepting possession in dangerous areas.
He must anticipate which opposition player to press or when to commit to challenges and win back possession. Perhaps he needs a dose of Mason Mount’s urgency in anticipating defenders’ frailties when distributing possession.
Moreover, rather than just trying to display his raw pace, he must be patient with moving into promising spaces so that those behind him can send him free through on goal. If he’s more relaxed and smarter in predicting the pockets of spaces to run into the final third, Pulisic should get more involved in their attacks.
2. Link-Up Better With Abraham & Co
Of course, transitioning from the Bundesliga to the Premier League is no easy feat. Both leagues are different in terms of tactical styles, atmospheres as well as the competitive level. Pulisic can’t be blamed for taking his time, but he must start creating chemistry with Chelsea’s regulars upfront. On atop the list is the in-form Tammy Abraham, who’s scoring whenever he pleases in his breakout season.
The American International must work harder alongside him in training, getting to know his strengths & weaknesses thoroughly. If he creates that intuitive bond, there won’t be stopping him from supplying deadly passes for Abraham to finish. Not only Tammy, but he also must work on building partnerships with Mount, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante along with the full-backs.
Being able to connect better with them will help him build his way into getting into goal-scoring situations. If Pulisic wants to start regularly, he must synchronize himself to their quick-paced style and implement more finesse to his link-up play.
3. Start Operating More Centrally
So we all know that Christian Pulisic is naturally a winger. However, he has all the traits of being a successful playmaker or #10 for club & country. His creativity has really been amplified since joining Lampard’s side. In the modern-day tactics, wingers are compelled to move more centrally in a bid for try scoring or creating chances more often.
With Chelsea opting for overlapping wing-backs in Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta, it gives Puliisc enough freedom to roam into the middle. His impressive assist for Michy Batshuayi recently proves how slick his final-delivery is from central areas. Pulisic also boasts better expected assists per game than Chelsea’s regular attackers, which proves how distinctive his creative vision is.
Moreover, he could also make more penetrative runs inside the box and try taking more shots on goal to start scoring for the Blues. He could show off all he wants down the wing, but Pulisic’s real contribution is when operating through the middle which he should do to add another dimension to Chelsea’s attack.
Another match, another Christian Pulisic no-show.
The highly-touted American didn’t manage to get on the pitch again on Sunday, sitting out Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.
Pulisic has played in four of six Premier League matches this season, starting three. However, it’s been three matches since Pulisic has seen the field. He didn’t play last weekend vs Wolverhampton. He missed making his 2019-20 UEFA Champions League debut for Chelsea in their midweek loss to Valencia.
So why isn’t Christian Pulisic playing more?
Frank Lampard explains why Pulisic isn’t playing
After the Liverpool loss, Chelsea manager Frank Lampard explained why Pulisic isn’t playing. The long and the short of it is: he’s not ready and Lampard has better options.
“[Pulisic] wasn’t a victim of the injuries. I’ve got a squad to pick from. Before that he had played a few games. Willian has come back in and been sharp and looked good. I decided to go with Mason [Mount] today, because we needed to stay strong in midfield and play Mason high up the pitch. That is my choice to make. He will get ample opportunities. He is a young player as well as everyone is talking about Mason and Tammy and Fikayo. He is actually as young, if not younger, than some of them. His chances will come.”
Does Pulisic deserve to be playing more?
This is the more difficult question. On one hand, when you invest the kind of money Chelsea did on him, yeah, he should be playing as much as possible.
On the other, Lampard wasn’t in charge when that acquisition was made. And while Pulisic has been just fine, Lampard does have better options.
The three best statistical performers via WhoScored for Chelsea are all 21 and under. Tammy Abraham has been one of the Premier League’s best goal scorers this season. And Mason Mount has been one of the best players, period.
Ross Barkley is the best statistical and positional comp to Pulisic, and they’ve played the same number of games (Pulisic has played more minutes though).
Keep in mind, something similar happened to Pulisic last season at Borussia Dortmund. While struggling with nagging injuries, Jadon Sancho emerged as one of the Bundesliga’s best players completely outshined the American. He drastically cut in to Pulisic’s minutes. This doesn’t make Pulisic a poor player. But it illustrates he has a ways to go and must earn all of his minutes like anybody else.
And the reality is, Pulisic is getting reasonable amounts of playing time. Lampard has an enviable task of integrating and developing a wealth of young players. If hie manages it right, it’ll pay huge dividends for Chelsea in a couple of years.
Who: USMNT vs Mexico
When: Friday, September 6th at 8:30pm ET
Where: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Line: USMNT +210 | Draw +240 | Mexico +130
Short Hills, NJ – Missing out on the 2018 World Cup was a serious blow to the USMNT leading to the resignations of coach Bruce Arena and President of US Soccer Sunil Gulati. Players weren’t spared the house cleaning, either. First interim boss Dave Sarachan pushed veterans aside while he blooded numerous newcomers in his year in charge before yielding to “permanent” coach Gregg Berhalter. Now, Berhalter has elected to play the kids in a pair of friendlies versus Mexico and Uruguay over the FIFA International Break.
Wednesday afternoon in a roundtable setting, High Press Soccer was among the small group of reporters that spoke to three of the young veterans that are set to lead this team in the present and into the future.
Pulisic, McKennie, Steffan and Adams are the present and the future
RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams remains sidelined with a stubborn injury, leaving it to Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Zack Steffan to represent the “future is now” contingent.
Any discussion of the USMNT starts with the young man from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Christian Pulisic. The $73 million dollar man was asked about Mexico, who defeated the U.S in the Gold Cup final 1-0, Chelsea, and his adjustment to the English Premier League.
“Yeah, we’re taking it very seriously” Pulisic began. Referencing the Gold Cup Final defeat, the 20-year-old attacker said it was “obviously a disappointment. You know, a tough one in the final wanting to win that one bad. But the best thing is, we have a chance second chance now. So we’re excited for it doesn’t matter that it’s a friendly.”
“Incredible” Premier League a “challenge” for Pulisic
Words can tell part of the story of Pulisic’s delight at joining Chelsea and playing in the Premier League and here are some from the man himself.
“It’s amazing,” Pulisic volunteered. “I mean, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more so, it’s incredible.” “It’s been great learning, you know, under [new manager Frank Lampard],” Pulisic went on. “And playing with top players and in the Premier League, it’s, it’s incredible. I’m still I’m still learning a lot. And I have a long way to go. But it’s been great so far.”
The rest of the story was told by the ear to ear grin that was plastered across the face of U.S. men’s soccer.
Asked about his adjustment to the English League, Pulisic had this to say. “I mean, it’s not like a huge difference or something that you really notice but it’s great man. The speed. It’s very intense. The games are very intense. Every single game I’ve played so far has been had a new challenge. And I mean, it’s, it’s great. And I’m learning a lot.”
It was noted that Pulisic signed for Chelsea when Maurizo Sarri was the manager, but since then former Chelsea (and New York City FC) star Frank Lampard has taken over at Stamford Bridge. Pulisic was asked about playing for the younger Lampard.
“Yeah, I mean, it worked out really well for sure. Frank’s a great guy, and he’s helped me so much and he understands you know, where I’m coming from. And yeah, he’s been really, really good job and helped me, teaching us, especially, a lot of the younger guys on the team and also mixing in well with some of the more experienced guys and it’s been a pleasure to work with him and to play with this team. It’s been it’s been amazing.” – Pulisic on Lampard’s influence
Who you got: Pulisic or Lozano?
With Chelsea discussed, one of the Mexican journalists on hand asked Pulisic about the debate raging in Mexico: Who is better — Pulisic or 24 year-old El Tri star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano — who recently transferred from Ajax to Napoli?
Pulisic demurred, saying Lozano is a fine player, although he was unaware of the debate. When asked more bluntly by a second Mexican journalist, “Who is better you are Chucky” Pulisic brought the house down when he said, “I’m not gonna give you like an Ibra answer,” before adding more seriously, “but obviously, I’m very confident in myself.”
McKennie still adjusting to Bundesliga
Weston McKennie followed Pulisic’s path to Germany, joining Schalke 04. Like Pulisic, McKennie quickly made his way to regular first team action. Also like Pulisic, McKennie has become a centerpiece with the USMNT.
Recently turned 21, McKennie is more outgoing than his former youth national teammate and has emerged a leader for club and country despite his young age.
Three games into the new Bundesliga season, McKennie and his Schalke club are still adjusting to a new coach, former U.S. international David Wagner. Although Wagner is German-born and raised, McKennie said of his relationship with his new boss, “it’s always good whenever you have a coach that has been through it himself, because it’s more relateable.”
“Honestly,” McKennie added, “you guys may not believe it but me and him, we don’t speak in English. We’re speaking German. Which I was also surprised to find that out, too. But, he’s real big on making sure everyone knows German.”
Not that McKennie objects. “I think it is right to do. We play in Germany, live in Germany.” That is not to say that the American connection doesn’t come into play. “Being able to connect to him on a more personal level, you know, whenever I speak about things that are in America, he knows what I’m talking about. So I think that’s also good.”
Positional stability would also be good for the versatile McKennie, who was played all over the field by the previous regime at Schalke. Does McKennie feel that Wagner will let him find a spot and stay put?
“I definitely hope so,” was McKennie immediate response. “I think we’re on the same page when it comes to that. I think he sees me as a midfielder, you know, six, eight, or 10, one of the three, not a right back or forward or left wing. So, I think he also realized that I’m best when I’m in that position. And that’s whenever I feel like I can bring something to the table.”
Steffen also cutting his teeth in Germany
No team can succeed without a top-class goalkeeper and if the start of the Bundesliga season is anything to go by, the USMNT is set both now and well into the future with 24-year-old Zack Steffen between the pipes.
Steffen failed to settle during his first stint in Germany, where he signed with Freiburg after his sophomore season at the University of Maryland. Returning to the U.S, Steffen eventually took over the number one job with the Columbus Crew, earning a MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award and catching the eye of Premier League champions Manchester City.
After signing with City, Steffen was loaned to Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf and this time around things have gone better for the talented keeper. Helping smooth the way for Steffen’s second stint in Germany was USMNT and Dusseldorf teammate Alfredo Morales, who reached out to Steffen during the off-season.
“He and I really kind of bonded since me being over there. So it’s great to have another familiar face over here,” Steffen noted.
“It was really nice of him to reach out to me,” Steffen noted. “I was on vacation when he did and it brought a smile to my face just because to have some familiarity over there already because everything’s new, it was great and definitely lucky to have him over there.”
A more mature Steffen has certainly looked the part on the pitch, earning Man of the Match honors in Dusseldorf’s season-opening 3-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Steffen feels that the Gold Cup was “a really good stepping stone for this U.S. team.” He explained, “For a lot of us, that was our first senior tournament that we were really thrown into, so we played against some good teams. And we had some games where we thought we could have played better could have been more composed on the ball and could have worked together more, and then we had some games that we played well.”
Things have started out well for Steffen in his Bundesliga reprise, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. number one has given up on Man City. “Yeah, my goal is obviously is to play for City, get back to City and compete there for a spot. I have those goals, but at the same time I take it day-by-day and week-by-week and try and progress and get better. Playing the games and executing my role and then learn from the guys on my team and my coaches and that process one day will hopefully get me to City.”
The American was dynamic and lively early. Still in search for his first Premier League goal, Pulisic came close. In the 19th minute, he got off a left-footed shot at close range that was saved by gk Dean Henderson but deflected to Tammy Abraham who finished it to give Chelsea the 1-0 lead.
Tammy Abraham’s third goal of the season!
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 31, 2019
He won Chelsea a free kick in the attacking half in the 31st minute. In the 43rd, Tammy Abraham netted a brace to give the Blues a 2-0 lead going into the half.
The first half of play was, for the most part, some of the best that the youngest EPL side in history can provide. Energy in attacking, mobile possession, hunger to get to goal. The young trio of Abraham, Mount, and Pulisic will be extremely excited to watch as they grow and mature in the league.
A little more quiet in the second half, though Pulisic did win another free kick in the 54th minute on the attack.
Pulisic did stay on the pitch all match. However, in the end, it was another disappointing result for Chelsea, who drew 2-2.
The opposite of the first half, while young and energetic Chelsea are desperately missing a measure of top level experience and leadership both on and off the field. The defense that is barely handling a mid level EPL side is going to be stretched beyond capacity in the grueling Champions League draw.
Chelsea fields youngest Premier League side EVER today
It’s worth noting again that Pulisic, 20, was part of the youngest side EVER today in Premier League history.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 31, 2019
Ahead of a pair high profile and highly challenging friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter released his 26 man roster today. The US manager followed up the release with a phone press conference.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and a returning John Brooks headline the squad.
In selecting this roster, Berhalter had to balance Major League Soccer’s policy of playing through the international break. The former Columbus Crew boss made it clear that he is none too pleased with the situation, saying he’s “disappointed with MLS choosing to play in the FIFA window.”
Berhalter noted that he did not call in Toronto threesome Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Omar Gonzalez because TFC is facing two matches during the international break. That second Toronto match seemed to govern Berhalter’s decision to leave the TFC players behind while selecting several other MLS players with conflicts. For example, NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson will miss the team’s September 7th match versus New England.
Berhalter was also asked to clarify the Darlington Nagbe situation. Or more specifically: did the Atlanta midfielder turn down an opportunity to be included in this roster as well as the Gold Cup squad?
After speaking of his admiration for Nagbe as a player, the coach turned Artful Dodger for this one. Berhalter declined to reveal the details of private conversations, while also speaking broadly on the subject of any player’s dedication to the team.
While stressing that he was not speaking about Nagbe, Berhalter noted “that he (Berhalter) is not the type of guy that says you’re done,” meaning that Nagbe or any player could be welcomed back into the team, because he takes, “every case on an individual basis.”
So, who did Berhalter select? Front and center are young guns Josh Sargent, Sergino Dest of Ajax, and Paxton Pomykal of FC Dallas. The latter pair were teammates on the recent U.S. U20 World Cup team that impressed in getting to the quarterfinal before falling to Ecuador 2-1.
Sargent impressed for Werder Bremen in the preseason but has struggled for playing time once the Bundesliga campaign began. Berhalter is hoping that Sargent can recapture some of the preseason momentum.
Pomykal has had a breakout season for FCD while Dest has been seeing time at both fullback positions for the 2018 Champions League semifinalists in the Eredivisie.
From the sound of Berhalter’s remarks, Dest is the more likely of the two to see the field over the two friendlies. The coach expressed a willingness to play the Dutch/American on either flank, as Ajax have done. That versatility may make it easier to get the 18 year-old on the pitch, with Berhalter saying he is, “really intrigued by how he (Dest) sees the game.”
As for Pomykal, the coach made it sound as though the Dallas man was in for a look-see, saying he wants to see, “how he (Pomykal) copes with the demands of the national team setup.”
Another young player to get a look is Miles Robinson, the Atlanta center back of whom Berhalter says, “form pushed [him] into the team.”
Not as young, but in the same boat as Robinson is 29 year-old Alfredo Morales of Fortuna Dusseldorf. Of Morales, Berhalter said, “I feel really good about calling in a guy that’s playing really well for his team.”
USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (4): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 60/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 15/0)
DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 6/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 7/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 11/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 8/0),) Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 35/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 10/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 9/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 14/3), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf/GER; 13/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 19/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 1/0)
FORWARDS (6): Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 3/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 33/5), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 31/13), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 7/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 51/10)
Christian Pulisic earned another start today as Chelsea traveled to play Norwich City, starting for the youngest Chelsea team to field the pitch since 1994.
In an (expectedly) open, attacking match, Pulisic looked more settled than in his starting debut last week.
The 3rd minute saw a field switch where Pulisic cradled the ball in and neatly made a quick dribble and pass that resulted in Abraham’s first goal. In the 17th minute, he threaded a short pass in the box to Mason Mount for an assist of his own. In first half stoppage time, he was brought down a ball with a calm, composed touch, finding Ross Barkley for what could’ve been assist #2. The game went to half tied 2-2 after another Teemu Pukki goal, his fifth of the season.
At 84 minutes of play Pulisic came off for Willian, who is quickly finding himself more and more on the sidelines with apparent fitness problems.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 24, 2019
We’ll give ya one more look at Teemu Pukki’s 5th goal of the season 😅👏 pic.twitter.com/lZDUF5KjRg
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 24, 2019
Who: Norwich City vs Chelsea
When: Saturday, August 24th @ 07:30 pm ET
Line: Norwich +200 | Draw +290 | Chelsea -120
Of course, it’s still early days and they can definitely mount a strong come-back soon. A victory is quintessential towards easing the tension in the air. For a side who finished third last season, inability to win a single match so far is concerning.
To Lampard’s defence, his first games weren’t the easiest to deal with. However, stumbling against Norwich City could pose serious questions about his ability as a top-flight manager. Anything lackluster against the red-hot Teemu Pukki led Norwich will probably tick off a series of problems which derails Chelsea’s season early on.
Norwich City Likely XI:
Krul, Aarons, Hanley, Godfrey, Lewis, Trybull, Leitner, Buendia, Stiepermann, Cantwell, Pukki.
The Canaries got their first Premier League since being relegated in 2016, inspired by Finnish hitman Teemu Pukki. It’s unlikely that Daniel Farke will make any changes after the Newcastle drubbing, knowing how well they performed together. Centre-back Christopher Zimmerman, Tim Klose, midfielder Onel Hernandez are the ones unavailable with injuries.
Chelsea Likely XI:
Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson, Jorginho, Kante, Mount, Barkley, Giroud, Pulisic.
Lampard needs a win immediately, as considering this is the kind of game Ross Barkley thrives at, I think he’ll be brought in for Pedro. Michy Batshuayi could make the bench after impressing against Liverpool reserves recently, while defender Antonio Rudiger still remains on the sidelines with an injury.
Norwich City vs Chelsea Match Preview
It’s safe to say that Chelsea’s reign under club legend Frank Lampard’s been the opposite of sweet so far. They’re yet to hit the ground running, having given some very inconsistent performances in recent weeks. While their hiccups to Manchester United and Leicester City can be excused, dropping points to Norwich could force a complete breakdown in momentum.
A major positive about Chelsea’s new system is how their manager is allowing the players to express themselves going forward. The Blues look much more exciting than the drab “Sarriball” from last season, moving forward in numbers to thrill fans with their fluidity. There’s also a greater sense of hunger, particularly from new signing Christian Pulisic.
The USA International’s yet to open his PL score-sheet, but has impressed with his work down the left. With his electric pace, dribbling ability as well as lethality in the final third, I think he can reach Eden Hazard-levels of greatness. However, their bane so far is their defensive organization, which has been extremely sloppy.
With an inexperienced backline and captain Cesar Azpilicueta himself struggling with constant mistakes, there’s little doubt Norwich would go all guns blazing in pressing them. Pukki’s obviously Norwich’s trump card and for me, could cause major headaches for the Chelsea backline. Be it his clever movement or devastating striking ability in the final third, detaining the red-hot striker is like outrunning a cheetah.
Daniel Farke would want his team taking the fight to the vulnerable Chelsea, with Emiliano Buendia as well as Todd Cantwell’s creative genes mixing perfectly with their striker’s goal-scoring hunger. However, the Canaries need to improve their defensive solidity. If they continue making mistakes, I think Chelsea will rip them up apart going forward.
This won’t be an easy task for Chelsea at all knowing Norwich’s strong home form, but for me, they should nick it 2-1 to get their season properly underway.
Pulisic was a legit difference-maker against the reigning European champs, tallying an assist and having a fantastic goal called back due to off-sides.
Frank Lampard rewarded the showing with a starting XI nod at home against Leicester City.
On DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, Chelsea are odds-on favorites to win the fixture.
|Chelsea -137||Draw +280||Leicester +380|
Check back throughout the game for updates on his performance.
Chelsea Starting XI vs Leicester City
Chelsea, who suffered an embarrassing loss to Manchester United on matchday 1, rolls out what should be their “A” line-up against Leicester. The Blues looked potent in preseason. Sunday’s starting XI reflects what should be their most impactful line-up.
Christian Pulisic vs Leicester City
It was a fairly quiet first-half for Pulisic. Fellow youngster Mason Mount grabbed the attention, picking the pocket and burying the shot for his first senior team goal.
Pulisic started the game on the left flank, but switched sides with Pedro to the right during the half. He’s had a few quality touches but not much else.
Chelsea was the better side in the first half, but Leicester stepped up their attack in the second. Pulisic was subbed off for Willian in the 71st minute after Leicester equalized the game 1-1.
It was probably Pulisic’s least impactful performance since joining Chelsea. The 1-1 end result vs Leicester means Lampard and co are still looking for their first domestic win. Chelsea find themselves 15th in the table with a -4 goal differential.
The young American gets his first Premier League start vs the Champions League winners in today’s UEFA Super Cup. The starting XI look much closer to what we would have liked to see from the Blues in their Sunday defeat to Man U.
Here’s how the sides are lined up to get started:
Liverpool: Adrian, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Salah.
Chelsea: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson, Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante, Pedro, Pulisic, Giroud
Will Chelsea be able to erase their Sunday blunder or will Liverpool’s win streak continue?
Pulisic assists opener
Pulisic did well penetrating on the dribble early on. He dribbled into the box and set up Olivier Giroud on the game’s opener.
Pulisic goal called back
Pulisic netted one of his own a few minutes later, with some fancy dribbling and quality finish. Unfortunately, an off-sides ruling called the goal back.
With 18′ remaining Pulisic come off the pitch for Mount and his first start for the Blues comes to an end. After the fantastic assist and called back goal of the first half it was obvious that Chelsea players began looking more intently to the left side of the pitch. Pulisic was caught offside too many times, but the intention to go forward was there both for him and those feeding him the ball.
UPDATE: We go 2 – 2 and into penalties to finish up this years Super Cup!
While a disappointing finish from a Chelsea perspective, and a fair amount of backlash against the Manager for slotting young Abram in as the last shooter, the Blues performance against the current European Champions was certainly a huge step up from the thumping they took from Man U last Sunday. Looking forward in the schedule we expect the Blues to find some consistency in both lineups and play in what should be a string of less competitive games.
Christian Pulisic did not start for Chelsea’s Premier League opening day match against Manchester United.
To be fair, neither did Chelsea’s best player, N’Golo Kante.
Pulisic was subbed in early in the second half, entering the match in the 58th minute for Ross Barkley.
How’d Pulisic do?
While it certainly wasn’t his fault, Chelsea got ran over as soon as Pulisic entered the game.
When Pulisic entered, Manchester United was holding onto a 1-0 lead. Less than 10 minutes later, the score was 3-0. It extended to 4-0 less than 25 minutes into his debut.
Pulisic earned a free kick within minutes of entering, but did see much of the ball after that.
In the 93rd, he drove into the box by was way off on a cross to capitalize. He rebounded quickly from there, finding Emerson Palmieri in the box, who rocketed a shot saved by David de Gea, for a near assist.
In the end, it was a debut Pulisic and Chelsea would like to soon forget, falling 4-0 at the final whistle. Paul Pogba showed an act of class at the end though, bringing Pulisic under his arm for some words of encouragement.
Oddsmakers think he’ll do pretty damn good.
Pulisic is odds-on favorite to tally at least 10 goals and 10 assists, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Christian Pulisic Goal and Assist Prop Bets
Here are Christian Pulisic goal props:
|Over 9.5 -134||Over 12.5 +320||Over 15.5 +1600|
|Over 17.5 +5000||Over 19.5 +15000|
In 4 seasons at Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Pulisic netted 13 goals (15 total in all competitions). Last season, Pulisic battled injuries and Jadon Sancho for playing time. In 924 minutes, he recorded 4 goals.
Scoring 5 goals, let alone 10, would be unprecedented for Pulisic. He’ll be more featured at Chelsea, is older and more skilled now, and has looked fantastic in preseason. But let’s temper our expectations here.
Also, Pulisic won’t be the featured penalty taker. That will likely fall on Ross Barkley. Not getting those 5-7 opportunities for taking one from the spot make hitting double digits all the less likely.
Here are Christian Pulisic assist props:
|Over 9.5 -223||Over 12.5 +200||Over 15.5 +800|
|Over 17.5 +2500||Over 19.5 +7000|
The most assists Pulisic recorded at BVB was 6…in 2016-17.
However, if Pulisic is hitting the over on either of these, expect it to be on the assists.
What can we expect from Pulisic?
If the preseason is any indication, Pulisic will be just fine at Chelsea. He’ll feature and do well. Expecting 10 and 10 from the 20 year old isn’t realistic. Not this year.
A 7 goal, 11 assist performance is more in line with reality. It would also be a helluva debut season.
Another preseason friendly, another solid Christian Pulisic performance.
Chelsea visited Borussia Monchengladbach today in a match that ended with a 2-2 draw.
Pulisic didn’t make the score sheet, as both Chelsea goals were converted penalties (one by Tammy Alexander, one by Ross Barkley).
However, he was very solid on ball, made a number of good turns, and was tidy in distribution. He was robbed on one big opportunity inside the box in the 29th minute. A few key passes just missed converting into goals. He was eventually subbed off in the 67th minute.
Here are all of his key moments from the game.