Christian Pulisic just started his first season with AC Milan and is already a fan favorite. After a disappointing season with Chelsea, the expectations for him were low, with talk of him even considering the MLS. However, the USMNT captain has been able to prove the doubters wrong while performing at his best in Serie A.
Stint at Chelsea
In Pulisic’s first season at Chelsea since his move from Borussia Dortmund, he scored nine goals with four assists during the 2019-20 season. From there, he was a rotated member in the starting XI, competing with the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz for playing time.
It seemed like his career was on a huge rise, especially after winning the Champions League in 2021. However, he saw his playing time cut in half the following season. His relationship with former manager Thomas Tuchel was rocky, as he openly admitted in his book “Christian Pulisic: My Journey So Far.”
During the same Champions League winning season, he scored a goal against Real Madrid in the semifinals. Tuchel told him that he would be rested against Fulham so he could play in the second leg. Instead, Tuchel changed his mind, deciding to start Kai Havertz instead
“I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed. I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start. So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.” he said in his book per Marca.
This resulted in a tough last two seasons with Chelsea, scoring seven goals with three assists from 21 starts and 46 appearances. He also played under three different managers, each one of them using him off the bench.
How the USMNT Help His Confidence
Despite everything going on with Chelsea, Pulisic was always a consistent starter for the USMNT. He captains the team a the age of 24 and has emerged as the leader of the young, rising team. Pulisic has made 60 senior appearances with the U.S since 2016 and has scored 25 goals. He is 32 away from tying Clint Dempsey for the all-time men scorer for the U.S and his not even 25 years old yet.
With his country, he has won two Nation Leagues titles while also winning U.S Soccer Male Athlete of the Year three times. He also had an outstanding World Cup campaign last winter, scoring once with two assists to bring the team to the round of 16.
His influence on the national team has helped him escape his issues with his club team, always contributing for the team while keeping good form despite losing his place in the lineup for Chelsea. Before the match against Wales at the World Cup, Pulisic spoke about his dreams about representing the stars and stripes and what he means to him:
“I’ve done a lot of things I want to do, but the World Cup is something on top of all of that, and it’s something when I was a kid in Pennsylvania growing up, 5 to 10 years old, all I thought about was a World Cup, playing for the U.S. team in a World Cup. That’s just been a dream my whole life. I’m sure getting into that moment is going to be special.” he said per The Washington Post.
The Big Move to AC Milan
After Chelsea finished 12th place in the table last season, they needed to clean up house. This meant that Pulisic’s time at the club came to an end. He had been heavily linked with Milan since January, before it finally became official in July. His teammates Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Cesar Azpilicueta, João Félix and Mateo Kovačić also left the team.
Since joining Milan, he has reunited with former teammates Olivier Giroud and Ruben Loftus-Cheeks, while also playing with USMNT teammates Yunas Musah. He immediately adapted to both the chemistry and the style of play under Stefano Pioli’s Milan side, sliding right into the starting XI.
During his Serie A debut on 21 August, he contributed to Olivier Giroud’s goal, scoring just minutes later. He also scored against Torino last Friday, finding the net two twice in two matches. Thus far, Pulisic has scored two goals on four shots, along with five crosses and two chances created.
He has also started those two games, playing the full 90 minutes against Torino. As he enters the prime of his career, his move to Milan seems like just what Pulisic needed to revive his career. With consistent playing time and a healthier environment, the winger will see more success in his young footballing career.