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.
With goals in the 20th and 28th minutes, Christian Pulisic netted a brace against FC Salzburg on Wednesday. The goals were his first two since transferring to Chelsea.
Pulisic also drew a foul that led to penalty kick converted by Ross Barkley in the 23rd minute.
Christian Pulisic’s first Chelsea goal
Pulisic’s first Chelsea goal was delivered by a perfect through ball from Pedro in the 20th minute. The American coolly finished a shot from the center of the box.
Pulisic’s second goal was a clever chip in the 28th minute. A similar through ball, this time by Barkley, led to the goal.
It was noted that Pulisic made many of the same runs in behind the line against Reading earlier this week, where he started and played the first half, but seemed to be missing the quality in pass and play from teammates on the field. Today however, the runs were met with the quality expected from a Champions League side, with the expected results.
The new Chelsea manager had this to say following the match.
“He is a big signing for us with big potential but the big question is he has to adapt to a different league,” Lampard said. “But I have seen already a really good attitude and a willingness to listen to information. He is 20 years of age so we have to remember he is young. I am happy to work with him, I want him to improve him.”
“He showed his quality and I love the nature of his goals where he has an intention to run behind the line and not come short, and the finishing was good,” Lampard said. “It is what he is going to have to do because he is going to play in the Premier League and the Champions League, this is the top end. A winger has to have the desire not just to be tidy but to be getting in behind people and then with his quality he can be a really big player for us.”
The big question remains. Will the young “Captain America” start for the Blues against the Reds come the opening fixture?
A new High Press Pod is live!
This is a good one that covers a lot of ground. Joining Chops is site contributor Tyler Everett. Topics covered include:
- The Gareth Bale – Real Madrid fiasco (01:00)
- Ajax wasn’t picked apart too bad this summer! (14:30)
- Look at the big brains at Arsenal! (19:30)
- Brief Liverpool not-spending-enough rant (23:00)
- How Christian Pulisic is doing this pre-season (26:00)
- Zlatan vs Carlos Vela and how LAFC would compete in Europe (29:00)
In Frank Lampard’s first fixture on English soil, the lineups were as fluid as the formations. From a 4-2-3-1 start featuring Pulisic and Kenedy playing wide, to an entirely new field starting the second half and moving into a 4-4-2 diamond midfield. The skipper’s tooling will soon to come to an end as the fixture with Manchester United looms, as will the players last hopes of impressing the manager for a coveted starting spot.
Chelsea came out incredibly slow, giving up a goal in only the 13th minute after some sloppy defending and a deflected first attempt left Josh Barrett a neat chip over Willy Caballero to put the Royals ahead. Nine minutes later, Ross Barkley rocketed a free kick just outside the box to even the match and light a proverbial fire under the visiting team.
A second goal by Kenedy sent the Blues into the locker room with a 2-1 lead.
Second verse, same as the first
While a whole new outfield stepped on the field to start the second half, it seemed as though the Blues took another 15 minutes to get warmed up.
They conceded yet another just 5 minutes in as an undefended Sean Morrison walked in a header delivered by Charlie Adam. Once again as if waking from a slumber, the Blues shifted gears and opened up the field nicely, showing some impressive offensive connecting and attacking prowess.
Mason Mount took advantage of two defensive mistakes just 3 minutes apart (57’ and 60’) to give the blues a 4-2 lead and some breathing room. In the 70th, almost as if on que, Reading’s Olise threaded a ball through the fractured back line of Chelsea to an advancing Baldock who finished neatly.
While Lampard’s experimentation with both lineups and formations is to be expected as he takes the reigns, there is some serious concern regarding the Blues backline.
The current transfer ban leaves Lampard unable to bolster his defensive line, and there are plenty of reinforcements that need to be made before taking the pitch against EPL and Champions League opponents. The good news is that offensively there looks to be some great cohesion in the younger players. While Pulisic and Kenedy started in support of Olivier Giroud today, who seemed mostly absent, there seemed to be better cohesion with Tammy Abraham at the tip of the spear.
Next up for the Blues is a trip to Austria to face RB Salzburg this Wednesday.
Chelsea Player Ratings
Player ratings with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the best.
Starting XI: Caballero (5); Alonso (5), Tomori (6), Christensen (6), Zappacosta (5); Bakayoko (5), Drinkwater (6), Kenedy (7), Barkley (8), Pulisic (7); Giroud (5)
Substitutes: Emerson (6), Zouma (5), Luiz (5), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (6), Mount (8.5), Pedro (6), Abraham (7), Batshuayi (6), Cumming (6)
Match Day Statistics
Reading 31% Chelsea 69%
Reading 13% Chelsea 19%
• SHOTS ON TARGET
Reading 6 Chelsea 7
Reading 5 Chelsea 10
Reading 8 Chelsea 14
Reading 2 Chelsea 1
Christian Pulisic got his first Chelsea start on English soil on Sunday against Reading. He was active and constantly involved. His off-ball movement was sharp. He found good angles and space to run into both with and without the ball. His passing on-point.
Two things particularly stood out:
- His quickness. Pulisic has another gear when the ball is at his feet. He ably weaved out of trouble in the attacking third, either connecting passes or finding space to penetrate.
- His gengenpressing would make Klopp proud. If Chelsea lost possession in Reading’s half, Pulisic was a nuisance attempting to win the ball back. He pressured Reading into creating a turnover in the attacking third in the 26th minute and was constantly active that way.
If Pulisic keeps up this level, he’ll absolutely make a positive impact for Chelsea.
The American left the game at half with Chelsea up 2-1. It was a slow start for the Blues, but they dominated possession after the first 10 minutes, ending the first half with a 71-29% advantage.
Christian Pulisic made his first team debut for Chelsea in a friendly against Barcelona on Tuesday. The Blues looked solid, beating the Catalans 2-1. How did Pulisic do in the match?
From what we saw, he’s going to make new manager Frank Lampard very happy.
Christian Pulisic’s debut against Barcelona
Pulisic’s blistering pace and panache for dribbling out of trouble on the left flank left Barca’s defenders mostly watching him scoot by unscathed. An early “should have been” assist was blasted over the bar by Tammy Abraham. Later, a near post attempt blasted the side netting at a tight angle.
It doesn’t look like Pulisic will be wearing the coveted #10 jersey this year, as the Brazilian Willian has already announced that he’s been offered it. However Pulisic’s performance against one of the top teams in the world certainly speaks to his ability to compete at the highest levels.
In the meantime, Americans will have to wait to make their jersey purchases until his squad number is announced.
Two friendlies await, plus an exhibition match in NY, before Chelsea’s opener away vs Manchester United on August 11th. Chelsea find themselves underdogs in the match-up, priced at +240 to Man U’s +117 (draw is +240 as well).
Christian Pulisic video highlights against Barcelona
Here are some of Pulisic’s highlights from the match.
On Wednesday night, July 3rd, the eve of our nation’s birthday celebration, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter declared his independence.
What independence? An independence from his “system,” thus freeing his best players to play and reaping the rewards with outstanding performances from his 20-year-old stars Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie.
The young veterans accounted for all of the U.S. goals, with McKennie recording the opener and Pulisic adding a brace. However, the dynamic duo provided so much more than just goals in the American’s 3-1 victory over Jamaica that sets up a marquee Gold Cup Final match versus Mexico, Sunday at Soldier’s Field in Chicago
With his young dogs unleashed, Berhalter made some badly needed changes to a lineup that had looked stale in a narrow 1-0 win over Curacao and his team responded with an effort that essentially repudiated the coach’s “all is well” narrative following the Curacao match.
USMNT played with purpose
Playing with a verve that hasn’t been seen by a USMNT side under Berhalter, other than in the 6-0 win over a dreadful Trinidad and Tobago side, the Americans came flying out of the traps Wednesday night in Nashville, swarming Andre Blake’s goal before cashing in after just nine minutes through Weston McKennie.
The goal was laid on by Berhalter reclamation project Michael Bradley, who sent a long diagonal to Reggie Cannon, who volleyed a pass to Jozy Altidore, who like Cannon, sprung from the bench for this game- as called for by High Press Soccer in our match preview! Altidore directed the ball to the onrushing McKennie and the Schalke man fired the home team into the early lead.
The U.S. was in unstoppable form, playing its best soccer in recent memory when Mother Nature intervened in the form of a lightning storm that halted play, and the American’s momentum, in the 16th minute.
When the sides returned after a lengthy delay it was the Reggae Boyz that benefitted from the respite as the Yanks struggled to find their pre-storm form. U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen continued his fine play with a big save soon after play resumed and the Americans gradually found their feet before heading to the locker room with that 1-0 lead intact.
Berhalter’s men started the second half as they had the first, fast, and within seven minutes Christian Pulisic followed a Jordan Morris shot with a rebounded effort to double the U.S. lead. In the 56th minute, Berhalter chose to reverse his striker swap, replacing Altidore with Zardes, in a move that we will generously assume was meant to protect Altidore from possible injury.
Zardes soon had the crowd gasping, and not in a positive way, when he missed badly on an open look just after checking in, and then again 10 minutes later when his turnover led to Jamaica’s only goal, on a play that also featured Matt Miazga getting beaten to a header by goal scorer Shamar Nicholson.
But the U.S. was quick to regain control of the match and put the result beyond doubt on a second Pulisic rebound, this one when the Chelsea man pounced on Blake’s save from Paul Arriola’s blast.
Berhalter is to be applauded for recognizing the need to make changes, and he was rewarded with good play from all of the newcomers to the lineup, including Miazga, who though lax on Jamaica’s goal, turned in an otherwise solid effort.
Cannon was excellent at fullback and has given Berhalter a lot to consider when he selects between Cannon and Nick Lima for the final. Altidore was the expected upgrade over Zardes that most expected and will hopefully be ready to go 90 against E Tri.
This Gold Cup was never going to be strictly about results or trophies for the U.S., not with the physical and psychological rebuilding job laid at Berhalter’s feet, but a place in the final against rivals and CONCACAF measuring stick Mexico is a good way to get started.
Maurizio Sarri has to be breathing a BIG sigh of relief.
It shouldn’t last too long.
The good news
Chelsea’s win at Watford on Matchday 37 combined with exceedingly poor performances from Manchester United and Arsenal means that the Blues secure a top 4 spot in the Premier League. They have an automatic entry into the 2019-20 Champions League.
That’s the good news. Considering where they were at varying points of the season, it’s very good news indeed.
The bad news?
Well…Sarri is still in charge unless the rumors of AS Roma taking him away materialize (take that as you will, it is silly season).
Chelsea still have no technical director in place.
The transfer ban hasn’t been overturned (but Christian Pulisic can still come!), which leaves the Blues challenged with making the best of what they have on the bench today.
But wait, there’s more! Gary Cahill is seeking greener pastures (which makes sense, as Sarri hasn’t shown him the pitch often), among other potential transfers, of course leading to…
Last but certainly not least, Chelsea’s best player (and arguably one of the best in the Premier League, despite PFA voting) Eden Hazard is almost certainly leaving for Real Madrid.
Twitter-centric folks will also be quick to note that the Blues have bombed out of the FA Cup, EFL Cup, and Community Shield. With the UCL qualification in hand, it might do Sarri some good to rest his best vs Leicester City this Sunday. Chelsea still have a Europa League trophy to play for this season. They are odds-on favorites to claim the title. FanDuel Sportsbook NJ has them priced at -135. Arsenal follows at +165. While soccer is fluky and random, you’ve gotta like Chelsea’s chances if those two square off. Chelsea has the better team and will have the best player in Hazard.
Would UCL qualification plus a Europa League win make this first season under Sarri a success? It should. The two men he’s staring up at in the Premier League table–Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp–didn’t accomplish that much in their first seasons at Manchester City and Liverpool.
The injury to Pulisic did not appear as severe as the ankle injury suffered by his fellow 20-year-old Weston McKennie in Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Venezuela, although a full report has yet to be issued.
Berhalter’s team tested
With Gregg Berhalter looking to become the first coach to begin his USMNT reign with a 4-0-0 start, Chile proved to be a much different proposition to the one posed by Ecuador last week. While Ecuador seemed content to sit back and let the U.S. ping the ball about, odd for a friendly, Chile presented a far different challenge for a U.S side still adjusting to the demands of playing for their new coach.
By both design and necessity, Berhalter shuffled his lineup to a considerable degree in Houston, minus McKennie and Tyler Adams, who returned to RB Leipzig. Ethan Horvath started in goal rather than Sen Johnson and Berhalter replaced both center backs, starting Matt Miazga and Omar Gonzalez over John Brooks and Aaron Long, with DeAndre Yedlin lining up at right fullback.
Adams played a key role against Ecuador as Berhalter’s hybrid right fullback/central midfielder, a role DeAndre Yedlin flirted with early before settling into a more traditional fullback position (and later playing as part of five back when Berhalter changed formations in the second half).
Michel Bradley came in for Wil Trapp against the more physical Chile, joined by McKennie’s replacement Christian Roldan in the midfield, while Corey Baird checked in at right wing instead of Jordan Morris.
The Americans burst out of the traps quickly and were rewarded with a fourth-minute goal from Pulisic. Pulisic’s difficulties have been well documented recently and Tuesday’s goal versus Chile was a fine answer to his critics. As seen in the above video, Pulisic raced past Chile’s defense, took a pass from Gyasi Zardes in full stride and beat the keeper with an impudent chip.
The goal scoring play began with a clearance by Horvath that came to Zardes just past midfield. Zardes controlled and found Pulisic with a defense-splitting pass, a sequence that belied Zardes’ iron foot reputation and may force fans and pundits alike to retire all of their Zardes can’t trap the ball jokes, gifs, etc.
The USMNT lead would last just five minutes, and with all the changes to the American lineup, it should not have come as a surprise that Chile’s goal would come from disorganization in the U.S. defense. With the American rearguard scrambling, a deflected shot squirted to an open Oscar Opazo for the open shot, which Opazo buried for the leveler.
With an energized Pulisic running at the Chile defense, the American attack was beginning to look dangerous, a promising development that was short-circuited when the Chelsea/Dortmund man limped off. The U.S had trouble adjusting to life without its talisman, now the third of the U.S. Big 3 unavailable (along with Adams and McKennie), and Chile dominated the final 10 minutes of the opening stanza.
Chile takes control in the second half
Chile continued that dominance into the second half, with the Americans struggling until they began to play their way back into the match at around the 60-minute mark. With Chile ascendant, Berhalter showed some in-game coaching chops, switching to a back five or back three, depending on which team was in possession.
The switch worked and with Trapp, now alongside Michael Bradley, Chile’s attack began to sputter and the USMNT hung on for a hard-earned draw versus a worthy opponent.
Berhalter didn’t get that fourth win in a row, but I can’t imagine him worrying too much about that. Of more concern are the injuries to Pulisic and McKennie with the Gold Cup just around the corner. As Berhalter retreats to his bunker to evaluate these two friendlies and the state of his team going forward, he and his staff will have to weigh the performances of his players relative to the opposition.
For instance, Aaron Long and John Brooks were imperious versus timid Ecuador, while Miazga and Gonzalez took time to grow into the game versus Chile, with desperation defending eventually giving way to something more composed.
Similarly, how does Trapp’s passing clinic versus Ecuador rate alongside Bradley’s effort versus the tougher, better Chile, especially when we recall some dimes dropped by the veteran against La Roja?
And then there is Zardes. Berhalter coached the enigmatic striker at Columbus and is a believer and Zardes did much well in this two-game set. Still, there were bad moments, including one that could have led to a goal versus Chile.
So, much to do for Berhalter, whose USMNT coaching tenure is off to a winning and intriguing start.
– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Chile
Date: March 26, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 7:55 p.m. ET (6:55 p.m. local time)
Weather: 74 degrees; clear skies
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
CHI 1 0 1
USA – Christian Pulisic (Gyasi Zardes) 4th minute
CHI – Oscar Opazo 9
USA: 22-Ethan Horvath; 2-DeAndre Yedlin (capt.), 19-Matt Miazga, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 13-Tim Ream; 4-Michael Bradley, 15-Cristian Roldan (18-Jonathan Lewis, 84), 10-Christian Pulisic (17-Sebastian Lletget, 35); 20-Corey Baird (16-Daniel Lovitz, 56), 9-Gyasi Zardes (11-Jordan Morris, 79), 7-Paul Arriola (6-Wil Trapp, 66)
Substitutes not used: 12-Jesse Gonzalez, 5-John Brooks, 21-Christian Ramirez, 24-Nick Lima
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
CHI: 1-Gabriel Arias; 4-Mauricio Isla, 6-Guillermo Maripán (19-Sebastián Vegas, 70), 8-Arturo Vidal, 9-Nicolas Castillo (7-Diego Rubio, 86), 10-Diego Valdés (13-Erick Pulgar, 70), 14-Esteban Pavez, 15-Oscar Opazo, 17-Gary Medel (capt.), 18-Gonzalo Jara, 20-Charles Aránguiz (21-Jimmy Martínez, 90)
Substitutes: 12-Brayan Cortés, 23-Lawrence Vigouroux, 2-Eugenio Mena, 3-Igor Lichnovsky, 5-Paulo Díaz, 11-Felipe Mora, 16-Pedro Pablo Hernández, 22-Jean Meneses, 25-Iván Morales
Head coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Stats Summary: USA / CHI
Shots: 5 / 7
Shots on Goal: 1 / 2
Saves: 1 / 0
Corner Kicks: 2 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 9
Offside: 1 / 2
CHI – Esteban Pavez (caution) 27th minute
USA – Daniel Lovitz (caution) 75
CHI – Sebastián Vegas (caution) 85
CHI – Arturo Vidal (caution) 90+2
Referee: Daneon Parchment (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicholas Andeson (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Joseph Bertrand (TRI)
4th Official: Kevin Morrison (JAM)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes
The youngest non-German to score in the Bundesliga. The youngest player to score two Bundesliga goals. The youngest player to appear and score for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. The youngest US player to appear and score in a World Cup qualifier. The youngest US player ever to score a brace. The youngest US captain, ever. US Soccer’s male athlete of the year, 2016 and 2017. UEFA Champions League breakthrough XI, 2016. CONCACAF best XI, 2017. Kopa Trophy 2nd place behind Mbappe, 2018.
The most expensive American player of all time, 3 times over, and he just turned 20.
However, after a season in the Bundesliga where he’s been overshadowed by teammate Jadon Sancho, and a good-but-not-great 2019 USMNT debut, heading into tonight’s high-profile game against Chile, it’s time to ask: is Christian Pulisic now underrated?
A look back at Pulisic to date
Before answering that question, and before he dons Chelsea blue this summer, I want to back up a bit. Who was Christian Pulisic BEFORE all of the accolades started pouring in?
Pulisic actually started in England with the youth team, Brackley Town, playing for just one year before returning to Hershey, PA and playing the majority of his youth with PA Classics out of Manheim. Now I linked the club out of respect for what they’ve done with their players, several of which have gone onto play professionally somewhere (bravo). I linked Hershey so you can see how incredibly small town it is, no bigger than a few high schools. Their practice facility? Here ya go. Not exactly Stamford Bridge. His parents? On record saying they let Christian develop at his own pace, and never pushed.
“I think (parents being in control) is important because sometimes parents are like, ‘I want my kid to be on the best team.’ If you have a coach that’s not a good role model in the best team, why would you really want your child being in that environment? I’ve seen that over and over again and I would refuse to put my son in an environment where someone is being negative. That to me is unacceptable. Parents do have to step up and say, ‘You know what? You are not going to be on the best team, but you are going to be around better people.’ Really, that’s a life lesson that’s going to be more important later on….We had to step away because it was just blaming the ref, and blaming this and just being negative to other children. To me, that’s awful. They are kids. You can’t do that. It’s a team game at a young level. Nobody needs that.”
“I think the parents that maybe are just, Go, go, go, go – trying to get that extra training, trying to get personal training, team training, on all sorts of different teams (are stressed). We didn’t do that. We were just like, ‘Train a little on your own, train with your main team, if you get called to the national team…’ We tried to just bring it down a level and kind of let him achieve what he achieved and let it kind of develop on its own, because I think that is way too much pressure if we were putting him in all those different training environments.”
Kelley Pulisic in an interview with Soccer Parenting Association
When you watch his highlights from 2017/2018 in one of the most competitive leagues on the planet, it makes you wonder…what are they putting in the water out in Manheim?
Has Pulisic gone from over-hyped to underrated?
Pulisic has been deservedly hyped. US soccer hasn’t produced a player of his quality since…ever.
Since Pulisic arrived on the scene, other US players have followed his lead to Europe as well: Tyler Adams. Weston McKennie. Timothy Weah. All will be key components of the USMNT’s 2022 World Cup qualifying efforts. Their arrival has help relieve some of the burden form Pulisic’s shoulders.
After arriving at Dortmund and USMNT senior squads in 2015-16, here’s how Pulisic has fared to date.
From a sheer numbers perspective, Pulisic has been more productive in national duty than for club. However, that doesn’t mean he’s lacking in quality from club. According to StatsBomb, his xGChain effectiveness (how his involvement leads to quality chances) rates just as high as Sancho. His xG90 and xA90 has maintained around the same levels since he exploded on the scene despite managerial and role changes. As seen in the following Understat chart, he’s actually taking more quality shots now than at any point in his career.
As is the case with most things regarding Pulisic, it’s complicated. He deserved the hype before, and there’s no reason to doubt his development today.
The Gregg Berhalter era kicked off in earnest with Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over Ecuador in Orlando, Florida.
So, how did it work out?
The Tyler Adams fullback/midfield role
Former New York Red Bull Tyler Adams has moved on to Bundesliga big brothers RB Leipzig with the greatest of ease and he was fine last night, albeit against a second choice Ecuador side that, minus its best attacker (Ennar Valencia), chose to sit back and allow the home team time on the ball, rarely attempting to punish Adams on the transition from midfielder back to defender.
Berhalter certainly deserves time to implement his strategies but with the Gold Cup looming and given the time constraints imposed on National Team coaches, the question becomes: does Berhalter have that time?
Aaron Long shined at center back…
When I first saw the U.S. lineup I was surprised to see Aaron Long and not Matt Miazga lined up alongside John Brooks in the heart of the U.S. defense. Perhaps I should have noted Long’s captaincy in the post-January camp games as a reason he’d get the nod.
Miazga has recently gotten back on track with a loan move to English Championship side Reading, where he has played very well. However, Berhalter kept faith with the reigning MLS Defender of the Year and he was rewarded by a fine performance from the 26-year-old.
An imposing 6’2”, Long is built like the center back he is, but retains the pace and agility of the midfielder he came up as. Those skills were on display versus Ecuador when the U.S. shifted into a three-back set – Long, Brooks, and Tim Ream – when Adams moved up to the midfield with the U.S in possession.
When Adams found himself too far upfield on Ecuadorian counters, Long was left isolated in 1v1 situations, where he proved up to the task.
On Tuesday night, when the USMNT play Chile at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, it will be instructive to see if Berhalter again goes with Long over Miazga.
…Pulisic failed to shine at center mid
Despite that $73 million transfer to Chelsea, it has been a tough year for Christian Pulisic. He has struggled with injuries, been usurped by Jaden Sancho at Borussia Dortmund (where he remains on loan), so U.S. fans were looking forward to seeing the Pride of Hershey in his first USMNT appearance under the new boss.
As promised, Berhalter played Pulisic centrally, in the number 10 role, where presumably he could influence the game more than from the winger role he plays for BVB.
And while Pulisic showed flashes, they were just that, flashes. It may have unfolded differently if Paul Arriola had finished a golden opportunity laid on by Pulisic in the 25th minute, but the DC United man fired directly at the keeper, a sequence that says more about Arriola’s lack of end product than it does about Pulisic.
Ecuador’s decision to play so defensively in a friendly was an odd one and it makes it harder to learn much from a third straight U.S. shutout. How anemic was the Ecuador attack? American keeper Sean Johnson faced zero shots on goal and just one in his general direction.
With a 0-0 draw seemingly in the cards, the home team found a fluky winner off the boot of Gyasi Zardes and an Ecuador defender in the 81st minute.
On Tuesday night, the U.S. dominated without ever truly impressing, while Ecuador’s reluctance to come out and play frustrated those in search of answers.
Is Zardes good enough to lead the line at the international level? I don’t think so but Ecuador’s packed defense made it difficult to say. What about his Columbus teammate, Wil Trapp? He picked out some nice long range passes Thursday night as his opponents sat back, ceding time and space. How will he fair with a physical marker in his face?
Questions for another night, then.
Weston McKinnie Injury?
One final question came when Weston McKennie was stretched off in the 68th minute with a scary-looking ankle injury. How bad is it? How long will he be out of action?
We don’t know yet. What we do know is that McKennie is a big part of this team’s future and whatever system Berhalter installs, McKennie needs to be a part of it.
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ecuador
Date: March 21, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Orlando City Stadium; Orlando, Fla.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 66 degrees; clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
ECU 0 0 0
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Tim Ream) 81st minute
USA: 1-Sean Johnson; 14-Tyler Adams, 23-Aaron Long, 5-John Brooks, 13-Tim Ream; 6-Wil Trapp (4-Michael Bradley, 59’), 8-Weston McKennie (15-Cristian Roldan, 68’), 10-Christian Pulisic (17-Sebastian Lletget, 62’); 11-Jordan Morris (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 68’), 9-Gyasi Zardes, 7-Paul Arriola (18-Jonathan Lewis, 77’)
Substitutes not used: 22-Ethan Horvath, 16-Daniel Lovitz, 19-Matt Miazga, 20-Corey Baird
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
ECU: 22-Alexander Domínguez; 4-Juan Carlos Paredes, 21-Gabriel Achiller (capt.), 3-Robert Arboleda, 13-Beder Caicedo; 8-Carlos Gruezo, 20-Jhegson Méndez, 18-Jefferson Orejuela, 16-Antonio Valencia, 5-Renato Ibarra (9-Leonardo Campana, 46’); 7-Romario Ibarra (19-Jhohan Jullo, 71’)
Substitutes not used: 1-Maximo Banguera, 12-Pedro Ortiz, 2-Cristian Ramirez, 6-Cristhian Noboa, 10-Ángel Mena, 14-Xavier Arreaga, 15-Jefferson Intriago, 17-Ángelo Preciado, 23- Jackson Porozo
Head coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 5 / 1
Shots on Goal: 2 / 0
Saves: 0 / 1
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls: 7 / 4
Offside: 1 / 1
USA – Paul Arriola (caution) 56th minute
ECU – Jhohan Jullo (caution) 90+3
Referee: David Gantar (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Philippe Briere (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Barwegen (CAN)
4th Official: Adonai Escobedo (MEX)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: John Brooks
New USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter gets to test drive his top squad for the first time on Thursday in an international friendly against Ecuador.
Given the success of young American talent in Europe (and their midfield depth), this is an exciting time for US soccer. The match should see European regulars Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Timothy Weah, and DeAndre Yedlin get game action as the squad tries to right the ship in prepping for 2022 World Cup qualifying.
USA vs. Ecuador Odds
|USA +125||Draw +230||Ecuador +220|
With the match in Orlando, and a full arsenal of the US’ best options available, it’s interesting to not see the US in the -150 area. Oddsmakers are still stinging from their 2018 World Cup qualifying collapse.
USA Projected Line-Up vs. Ecuador
A lot will be determined by how Berhalter decides to deploy Pulisic. Will he be a 10? A wing? Either way, here’s the XI we expect to see in the line-up.
|Tyler Adams||Aaron Long||John Brooks||Antonee Robinson|
|DeAndre Yedlin||Michael Bradley||Weston McKennie|
|Christian Pulisic||Jozy Altidore||Timothy Weah|
Insert eyeroll over Bradley and Altidore, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Berhalter look for some veteran presence. Both Bradley and Altidore in this line-up would be flanked by the most promising players in the US system (although Yedlin would be in a different, more forward role). Note that Zack Steffan would normally get the goalkeeper start, but injury gives Ethan Horvath the shot.
Where to Watch
The friendly airs on ESPN2 at 8pm ET.
Why to Watch
Lots of reasons! As noted, this is the first time Berhalter fields (more or less) all of his top European club players. How this squad gels is hugely important to the future of US soccer.
Players like Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Timothy Weah are seeing great early success in Europe. Do they bring that new level of confidence to the pitch for the US?
And while Pulisic has seen his role diminish with Borussia Dortmund since Jadon Sancho emerged, he was still the best player on the US squad through their failed 2018 World Cup qualifying run. Will he still be?
With Gregg Berhalter’s second USMNT camp approaching, and his first with European-based Americans, let’s look at what’s going on with the US’s top exports.
Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund
Christian Pulisic is out with a thigh injury and was not in the 18 for Borussia Dortmund’s game against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. Dortmund are in the midst of a competitive title race with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and their focus will likely be centered on the league for the rest of the season, as they look likely to lose to Tottenham in the Champions League Round of 16.
The biggest recent news for Pulisic, though, was Chelsea’s ban on signing players until 2020. Pulisic will still go at Chelsea this summer, but this looks like good news — it means less competition once he arrives in London. With the Blues struggling mightily (and chaotically) under Maurizio Sarri, Pulisic promises to step right into the starting lineup.
Weston McKennie, Schalke 04
A starter for a poor Schalke 04 team, Weston McKennie will reportedly have an MRI on a thigh injury he picked up in a Champions League Round of 16 loss to Manchester City. It could threaten his availability in the second leg against City — Schalke are only down a goal — as well as in Gregg Berhalter’s March camp and friendlies.
He would be a big loss for Schalke if he isn’t back for the second leg against City. He was vital in the Champions League group stage:
Tyler Adams, Red Bull Leipzig
Tyler Adams has started playing big minutes for Red Bull Leipzig. He went 90 in a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg last week and has, by all accounts, excelled as a box-to-box midfielder. Whether he is a right back or a midfielder long-term is still a question, but his performances in the middle of the park for Leipzig indicate that he can play the position at a high level. He’s yet another success story of the MLS (in this case, the New York Red Bulls) developing talent who can succeed in Europe.
Here’s an every-touch video from a game against Stuttgart, in which Adams picked up an assist:
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
Now a teammate of Miguel Almiron at a Newcastle United team starting to poke their heads out of the relegation battle, DeAndre Yedlin starts every week at right back. Rafa Benitez’s side won 2-0 against a 10-man Huddersfield this weekend, though that was not exactly a tough ask, considering Huddersfield are firmly planted in last place.
Yedlin could face a battle for his starting right back position with the USMNT, though he remains the probable starter heading into the March international break.
On Friday, Chelsea was given a two transfer window ban by FIFA for breaking rules related to signing U18 players.
However, the ban (which Chelsea will appeal) only applies to the upcoming transfer windows. It does not impact done deals or loans.
Christian Pulisic Can Still Move This Summer?
In short, the ban has no impact on Christian Pulisic joining Chelsea this summer. He signed in January and was loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the remainder of the season. He’ll be joining the Blues as originally planned.
Four Champions League Round of 16 Leg 1 matches are in the books.
On Tuesday, Roma defeated Porto 2-1, and Manchester United lost at home to Paris Saint-Germain 2-0.
On Wednesday, Tottenham dismantled Borussia Dortmund 3-0, and Ajax hung at home (with some help from their fireworks loving fans) but ultimately fell to Real Madrid 2-1.
Five Things We Learned
- Real Madrid’s hot streak is for real. RM’s recent La Liga form isn’t a fluke. Ajax is a strong young squad (one that will be breaking up too soon), especially at home, and Real Madrid showed their Champions League mettle earning a tough road victory. Karim Benzema (60′) put Los Blancos up and Marco Asensio (87′) put it away. Ajax threatened late (squandering a last minute equalizer), but there’s a reason why Madrid just keeps winning and others don’t.
- Manchester United’s hot streak is not. Listen, we’re not one to overreact and do the “Sky is falling at Old Trafford” routine. However, PSG looked like the deeper and more disciplined squad. Maybe this is a learning experience for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he implements a tactical plan to meet the attitudinal shift his squad has made. What is clear is Man U need a master plan to make up the 2 goal differential heading to Paris.
- Christian Pulisic will do well in the Premier League. If Wednesday’s game against Tottenham is any indication, Pulisic will have no problem adjusting to the Premier League. In a game where BVB was thoroughly run over in the second half, Pulisic (save for a couple of early miscues) was a constant attacking threat. Jadon Sancho might’ve taken his minutes this campaign, but Pulisic looks ready for his next phase.
- Son Heung-Min is the most underrated player in the Premier League. Seriously, Son is freaking legit. No Harry Kane, no Dele Alli, no problem. Son put Spurs up early in the second half and led a blistering second half attack.
- Roma and Porto are still in the Champions League. All dumping on these two sides aside, this was supposed to be a coin-flip match-up and all signs appear to a closely contested Leg 2 game. Yeah, the other 7 teams who advance will be wearing their lucky socks on the Champions League Quarterfinals drawing day to play one of these two, but Porto is strong at home, Roma is erratic, and this will live up to the 50/50 match-up most predicted.
Updated FiveThirtyEight Probabilities
Three teams have seen significant jumps in their advancement probabilities after this week’s games.
- PSG was a heavier favorite than many would’ve thought going into their tie with Manchester United, but they’ve jumped from around a 70% favorite to advance all the way to 97% following their 2-0 away win.
- Tottenham saw their win probability increase from 60% to 95% after thrashing BVB.
- Real Madrid was at one time an underdog to advance via FiveThirtyEight, starting at 48% after the draw and during their slump. They’ve now moved to an 81% favorite to advance.
- Of course, Roma and Porto are the closest match-up, with Roma moving from 50/50 to 61%.