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Christian Pulisic rang in 2019 and the best season of his professional career.
It started with a January 2nd announcement of a $73 million transfer from Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund to Premier League giants Chelsea and now as the year winds down the dynamic attacker has claimed a second U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award.
21 year-old Pulisic wins the award for the second time in three years, becoming the youngest man to claim the prize on two occasions, surpassing Landon Donovan who was 22 years old when he collected his second such accolade.
Following the completion of what remains far and away the largest ever transfer of a USMNT eligible player, Pulisic was immediately loaned back to BVB to complete the Bundesliga season. As he returned to Germany, many wondered aloud if the American attacker had bitten off more than he could chew in moving on to one of the Premier League’s traditional powers.
Pulisic seemed genuinely unaffected by the move finishing up with three goals from his final nine games for the club that had plucked him from Hershey, Pennsylvania after first spying his potential at the Nike Tournament in Florida.
Meanwhile, Pulisic battled injury, making it difficult for him to integrate with the national team under new coach Gregg Berhalter, although Pulisic was healthy for the Gold Cup where he notched three goals and three assists and was named to the tournaments Best XI while picking up the honor of Best Young Player of the event.
In what was a very poor year that saw the USMNT compile a dismal record of 11 wins, five losses, and 2 draws, a series of frustrating injuries limited Pulisic to playing in just 11 of those national teams games in 2019. His five goals in 11 games underlined just how badly Pulisic was missed.
After some decent early performances for Chelsea, the “I told you so” brigade came out of the woodwork when Chelsea boss Frank Lampard elected to sit Pulisic for September matches against Wolves, Liverpool and Brighton.
But American soccer’s “Boy Wonder” maintained his composure, continued to put in the work and with a pair of assists in Champions League action versus Ajax. In Premier League play versus Southampton, Pulisic earned more minutes. He made the most of his second chance, the highlight being a hat-trick against Burnley in the Blues 4-2 victory on October 26.
The hat-trick was just the second in the Premier League by an American (Clint Dempsey vs Newcastle, Jan. 2012). Pulisic is the youngest American to achieve the feat and is also the youngest player in the long, illustrious history of the Chelsea Football Club to score three goals in a single match.
After claiming a goal each in Premier League games versus Watford and Crystal Palace, as well as one in the Champions League against Valencia, Pulisic has become automatic in Lampard’s 11.
And remember, the best season of Pulisic’s young professional career is not over yet. Owing to the Premier League’s hectic, and wildly enjoyable festive season, America’s best has four more opportunities to add to his tally of five Premier League goals and two PL assists.
After Saturday’s (December 14) match at Stamford Bridge against Bournemouth, the games come thick and fast for Chelsea. First up the Blues make the short journey to White Hart Lane to take on Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspurs, next it is a Boxing Day battle at Southampton before Chelsea say goodbye to 2019 with another London Derby, this one at the Emirates versus Arsenal.
Chelsea and Pulisic are off to Brighton on New Year’s Day, kicking off a 2020 campaign that will see the club compete in the Knockout Rounds of the UEFA Champions League and continue the chase for a top four position in PL table.
Exciting times for Chelsea and right in the middle of it all is the 2019 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year.