USMNT’s Christian Pulisic opens up on Chelsea struggles, mental battle

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Ahead of the USMNT hosting El Salvador in World Cup qualifying on Thursday, Christian Pulisic opened up to the media about his recent form at Chelsea.

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The USMNT superstar doesn’t do this often, if at all, and Pulisic revealed he has found it very tough in the Premier League this season.

Pulisic admitted the 2021-22 campaign has been ‘up and down’ and he isn’t where he wants to be. He was open and honest and reflective when asked about what it’s like to always be in the spotlight on both sides of the pond.

Heading into this international break, the 23-year-old USMNT star was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s last two games in the Premier League after playing in six straight over the festive period in a variety of positions.

After playing as a false nine, wing-back and in his usual role on the wing, he has been left out by Thomas Tuchel and he was asked about his recent positional switches.

Pulisic opens up on Chelsea struggles

“It is tough. I haven’t always been playing in the positions I want to play in. But I think it is a good quality to be versatile and able to play in all kinds of positions and have different strengths on the pitch. I’ve learned a lot and I’m ready to hopefully be in a spot over the next few games that I’m more comfortable in,” Pulisic told the media in a conference call.

Christian Pulisic was then asked about his recent form at Chelsea having any impact on his USMNT form, and his future at club level.

“It doesn’t affect me too much coming in to U.S. camps. I am ready when I come in here and to do whatever I can to come to help this team so I’m not thinking about that,” Pulisic said. “Obviously it has been up and down this year, for sure. Not exactly where I want to be and how I want things to be right now. I’m just going to keep going and it doesn’t affect me when I come here. So I am excited to be here.”

Pulisic then opened up when asked about what it’s like to be asked time and time again about Chelsea when he’s with the USMNT, and vice versa, and how he handles all of the stardom and attention.

“I would say there’s two sides to me, especially when people ask you how you are. There is the soccer side and the person side. The person side is even more important to me and I’m doing alright in that sense. It is a lot sometimes,” Pulisic said.

“When I come to the national team it is ‘How are things with Chelsea?’ and ‘What’s this’ and ‘What’s that.’ It’s tough, it is tough. Mentally it has played on me at times but I am always very excited to be on the national team and get to enjoy playing with these guys and just enjoy football in general.”

USMNT proud of Pulisic

The USMNT will be leaning heavily on Christian Pulisic to help them enjoy this cycle of games and move one step closer towards World Cup qualification.

This is the first time since September that Pulisic is coming in to a camp fully fit and raring to go.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter was asked about how he thinks Pulisic has performed at Chelsea in recent months, and revealed he is proud of how hard he is grinding in so many different positions.

“I love the fact Christian is fighting, he is fighting to be on the field,” Berhalter said. “Whether he plays forward, or his natural position as a winger or a withdrawn attacking midfielder, or if he plays wing-back, he will do whatever it takes to be on the field. That is the mark of character and the mark of someone who knows how valuable it is to play for a club like Chelsea.

“It has been fun watching him. He scored a great goal against Liverpool, against Man City he’s playing in a very difficult game and doing a good job. For us it has been fun to watch him and his team. They won the Champions League last year, were battling for the title last year and this year as well, they are going to be playing in the Club World Championships. Really high level of club that he is at.”

Future uncertain but Pulisic developing

There have been reports linking Pulisic with a move to Bayern Munich, Barcelona and many others European giants in recent months as it appears that Chelsea may freshen up their attacking options this summer.

Pulisic, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and even Romelu Lukaku have all been criticized by Tuchel in recent weeks, as a collective, and it appears that Pulisic is truly at a crossroads in his career.

It felt like it was a relief for Christian Pulisic to talk about these struggles, the pressure he is under for club and country, and to get it off his chest a little. He doesn’t talk like this often, if ever. So often he is the hero who is a scoring, assisting and winning machine. But most importantly he’s a human being. And he’s trying to work everything out while the entire world watches on and judges him every single day. That is far from easy.

The USMNT rely heavily on Pulisic and he wants to do his talking on the pitch. But this time, his talking off the pitch was just as impressive.

He is developing into a mature, thoughtful and considerate person off the pitch. In his own words, how he is as a person off the pitch, that is most important. He is okay with admitting his struggles instead of burying his head in the sand. We should all take note of that and follow his lead.

All USMNT fans want Pulisic to be happy and this outpouring of emotion shows he is finding it tough at Chelsea, but he is battling on and is focused on one thing right now: leading the USA closer to World Cup qualification.

“There’s a great focus in the team and I don’t know exactly the math, but even with three wins I don’t think it is guaranteed we are going to qualify,” Christian Pulisic told ProSoccerTalk before the opening game of this penultimate cycle of games.

“We just need to take it game by game, win game by game and put ourselves in a great position next camp to be able have a couple good results and get us to where we need to be. That is qualifying for the World Cup.”

USMNT reportedly opens contract talks with Gregg Berhalter; Good or bad idea?

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Gregg Berhalter may be sticking around the United States men’s national team program, giving the USMNT coaching continuity as it moves from 2022 World Cup Round of 16 member to 2026 World Cup co-host.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says that Berhalter is beginning contract discussions with the United States Soccer Federation but also interested in taking a job in Europe with his profile having risen alongside the USMNT at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s current contract ends at the end of the calendar year, and the Yanks have scheduled a domestic camp in January and friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

[ MORE: USMNT transfer rumors for Musah, Dest ]

Berhalter has done some good things for the program, most notably winning the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup with two different groups. He also straightened out the defending, for the most part, and got out of the World Cup group.

Berhalter successfully recruited Sergino Dest and Yunus Musah, two of the program’s stars at the World Cup. He also convinced Malik Tillman, Gaga Slonina, and Jesus Ferreira that the U.S. was the right place for their national team futures.

He also, subjectively, was slow if not downright stubborn in acquiesing to certain points-of-view that made the team better. From Tyler Adams as a right back at the outset of his tenure to saying Tim Ream didn’t fit how he wanted to play about a month before the World Cup… then playing him every minute of the tournament.

But for the most part when lessons were learned, they stayed learned.

Should Gregg Berhalter continue as USMNT boss?

Let’s start here, because it’s necessary: It’s clear that Berhalter cared about his players and the project, whether you like the way he operated or not. This wasn’t a half-assed operation, but one with passion.

So does he still have that passion? Only he can answer that, and if he’d like to get more matchdays in his life then maybe he does want to go back to the club game.

And frankly, that’s fine either way, because his four years with the program were neither amazing nor pitiful. They can be described as anything from a slight disappointment to a minor success, depending on your perspective and expectations.

If you believe that picking up the pieces from the absolute travesty that was failing to qualify for the World Cup from the richest nation and one of the two most talented nations amongst CONCACAF men’s programs was really hard, then you think Berhalter getting the men to the 2022 World Cup and surviving the group with a young group was a solid step in the right direction and a minor success.

If you believe that the American soccer climate is such that you should always make the World Cup out of one of the world’s lesser confederations and that the Yanks progressed as the second team of a group in which they were the second-ranked team according to FIFA and Elo Ratings, well, you can have a different standard.

The Yanks will never again fail to qualify for the World Cup given the expanded field, but hosts have historically had a drastically-improved chance to reach the semifinals. THe federation would have to be confident that picking the best squad regardless of how it reflects on his previous selections — let alone a Best XI — is going to happen under a given coach.

Berhalter’s 49 and is far from the worst or best boss in USMNT history. Whoever’s in the job four years from now will have a chance to go down as either one. Choose wisely, fed. And Gregg! Who knows how far his star could rise with a solid run in Europe, and history says there will be the chance to reconnect with the USMNT job.

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Premier League table, 2022-23 season

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If it’s the 2022-23 Premier League table you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

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We’re at the 2022 World Cup break, and the final few rounds of Premier League fixtures caused so many shocks.

Who’s looking like title contenders and/or favorites?

Almost at the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season, Arsenal and Manchester City are looking head and shoulders above the rest.

The Gunners will have their hands full for the duration of their title challenge, as Erling Haaland continues to take the Premier League by storm with an almost impossible goal-scoring record.

Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester United are locked in a battle for the top four, while Liverpool have improved and will be back in the Champions League scrap and Chelsea are struggling.

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Who are the early-season candidates for relegation?

Newly promoted Nottingham Forest moved off the bottom of the table with a win before the break, with Wolves and Southampton currently occupying the other two relegation places.

Leicester have picked up a few big wins, while West Ham, Everton and Leeds all find themselves within a few points of the bottom-three after a topsy-turvy start.

Below you will find the latest Premier League table.


Premier League table – Matchweek 16

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England vs France: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Match 59 of the 2022 World Cup features a pair of European heavyweights duking it out for a place in the semifinals when England faces France on Saturday.

Didier Deschamps’ France is bidding to become a back-to-back World Cup winner, but Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are tournament-hardened and have shown their explosive nature three times this tournament.

STREAM ENGLAND vs FRANCE LIVE

France beat Poland 3-1 in its Round of 16 match while England overcame a dodgy start to pound Senegal 3-0.

Neither team can say its faced a test like this in the tournament, and this could be a fantastic fight in Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for England vs France.


How to watch England vs France live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday, December 1
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

England will look to Harry Kane, though the question remains who will flank the Tottenham center forward. Marcus Rashford’s been very good but Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden got the starting spots against Senegal and it paid off for Southgate.

Kylian Mbappe has been borderline unstoppable and will test Harry Maguire, John Stones, and friends and Antoine Griezmann pulls the strings in behind and Aurelien Tchouameni continues to strengthen his reputation in the center of the pitch.


England quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Pickford

France quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Raphael Varane, Antoine Griezmann

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Croatia vs Brazil: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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World Cup-savvy Croatia stands in the way of stylish Brazil’s pursuit of a sixth World Cup crown, and the pair promise a complex match-up on Friday in Al Rayyan.

Match 58 of the 2022 World Cup kicks off the quarterfinals as Neymar leads Tite’s star-studded CONMEBOL powers into a match against the 2018 runners-up.

STREAM CROATIA vs BRAZIL LIVE

Croatia got past Japan in penalties and will now dream of the two wins that could set it back in the final where France could again be waiting for a juicy rematch.

Croatia needed penalties to get past Japan in the Round of 16, while Brazil pasted South Korea 4-1.  Croatia has never beaten Brazil in four meetings, losing at the 2006 and 2014 World Cups.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Brazil.


How to watch Croatia vs Brazil live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Friday, December 9
Stadium: Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was fantastic in penalties versus Japan to get here, but Luka Modric continues to do the things that get Croatia out of trouble and puts the opponents into heaps of it. Josko Gvardiola has arguably been the defender of the tournament, and the 20-year-old looks to test his mettle again against the Selecao.

Pick a Brazil player who’s failed to impress and you’ve achieved a mighty feat. Neymar’s been fantastic when healthy while RIcharlison is in serious pursuit of the Golden Boot. Alisson Becker flexed his muscles once or twice versus South Korea and figures to be busier as the competition continues to heat up in Qatar.


Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol

Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

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