Christian Pulisic

USMNT
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Burning question: How will the USMNT perform as World Cup hosts?

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We know the question is fraught with variables, but let’s consider this question during this dead period in world soccer: What should we expect from the United States men’s national team at the home World Cup.

The USMNT will presumably have a ninth World Cup under its belt when it joins Canada and Mexico in hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Expectations will be sky-high for the Yanks, eight years removed from failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament and 22 years after hosting the World Cup that would jumpstart soccer in this country.

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It’s wild to think about a 27-year-old Christian Pulisic leading the Yanks as presumed captain. Health-willing, the winger will be somewhere in the 80-cap range and potentially have a resume as decorated as any in history at his age.

Let’s begin by talking about who will be on the roster, considering we cannot know the identity of the coach or which players will explode onto the scene. Maybe Keegan Rosenberry or Donovan Pines get chances and grasp them. Maybe both disappear from the picture. Six years is a long time, so we’ll stick with the familiar.

Given the tremendous changes at the top of U.S. Soccer and a spirit amongst fans which has been downright venomous, it may be difficult to imagine Gregg Berhalter will still be at the helm unless his side has a remarkable tournament in Qatar, but it’s possible (For what it’s worth, Berhalter’s USMNT playing career happened alongside new USMNT general manager Brian McBride).

So let’s look at the class of players who are in the picture now and would also still be in their primes, assuming health.

Near certainties

We’re lending some leeway to Dest, Weah, and Reyna given their early and impressive starts to careers at elite European clubs, and a little bit to Steffen, too; Whether the Fortuna Dussseldorf loan man is the No. 1 is a conversation to be had, but his experience gives him a foothold as a member of the corps.

  • Pulisic, 27
  • Weston McKennie, 27
  • Tyler Adams, 27
  • Zack Steffen, 31
  • Giovanni Reyna, 23
  • Tim Weah, 26
  • Sergino Dest, 25

The wily vets: We know there will be late bloomers and those that play deep into their 30s — Gyasi Zardes may become the USMNT’s new Chris Wondolowski if he hasn’t already — but these five names are well-established now and well-liked by the hierarchy.

  • Jordan Morris, 31
  • John Brooks, 33
  • DeAndre Yedlin, 32
  • Walker Zimmerman, 33
  • Cristian Roldan, 31

Young, experienced, but with questions: It’s a touch harsh to have Sargent here, as recency bias is the challenge (He’s struggled of late but has a very strong resume at Werder Bremen and with the USMNT). He also will have to contend with a pool of very deep and young attackers.  Miazga and Horvath also possess the resume and acumen, but there are enough minor questions about playing time — getting it and keeping it — at the very top levels of Europe.

  • Josh Sargent, 26
  • Matt Miazga, 30
  • Ethan Horvath,  30

How will they fare with a step up? There’s nothing to dislike about this crew apart from where they are playing now. Cannon, Miles Robinson, and Yueill are in a strengthened MLS but that is still not a guarantee on the international stage. Antonee Robinson was denied a January move to AC Milan, and the Wigan Athletic man is going to get a big look from someone soon since he plays left back. Cannon and he will get a chance almost as soon as the transfer window opens again.

  • Reggie Cannon, 28
  • Antonee Robinson, 28
  • Miles Robinson, 29
  • Jackson Yueill, 29

Oh, we sure do hope so: Whether playing on second sides of German powers, dipping their toes in the Premier League like Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev, or in a sea of MLS or Eredivisie hopefuls, there are a ton of buoyant young players waiting for their turn on the stage.

We include older Cameron Carter-Vickers due to his loan experience in the Championship, and two names on here are the wildest of wild cards. Folarin Balogun is lighting up the PL2 for Arsenal but has repped England youth since playing for the Americans, while Konrad de la Fuente is training with Barcelona’s first team but there’s a looooong road from Barcelona B to first team playing time.

Even this list leaves off Brandon Servania, James Sands, Charlie Kellman, and a host of others with seemingly effervescent futures.

  • Chris Richards, 26
  • Indiana Vassilev, 25
  • Ulysses Llanez, 25
  • Jesus Ferreira, 25
  • Konrad de la Fuente, 24
  • Paxton Pomykal, 26
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers, 28
  • Richie Ledezma, 25
  • Chris Gloster, 25
  • Alex Mendez, 25
  • Mason Toye, 27
  • Sebastian Soto, 25
  • Folarin Balogun*, 24

So what does it mean?

Having already qualified and playing on home soil, the Yanks will be playing in an expanded field. Unless the nation experiences unparalleled drop-offs in form and development, the side will enter the tournament with high expectations at home.

A perceived group of death will no longer be met by “Well, maybe next time.” Questions will be more on defenders than anything else, although the U.S. men have yet to find the latest from the Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller time line of elite backstops (Honorable mention to Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando).

Admitting that the exercise of, “What’s gonna happen in six years?” is rooting deeply in our current soccer landscape’s dormant state, we project the Yanks to be in the knockout rounds with a chance — however small or large — to get past whoever gets in their way.

What we love about Chelsea

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Chelsea is one of the most polarizing teams in the English top flight.

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The cash-rich club in West London is a lightning rod, especially with infamous billionaire Roman Abramovich at the helm. The Blues have won a lot, with five Premier League titles to their name.

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Chelsea, like it or not, is one of the most popular teams in Europe, and they can always be counted on to compete at the highest level. Well, unless Jose Mourinho is about finished with his time in charge. Here are some things we love about Chelsea.


Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount celebrate a goal against Arsenal (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

Youth infusion: Chelsea has been a tough out for the last two decades, but this season has been different from a number of Chelsea’s top-four challenges of the recent past.  Forced by a transfer ban over the summer and a host of injuries through the middle of the season, Frank Lampard has had to dig deep into his squad for starters, and that has brought a number of young players to the forefront.

For the past decade, Chelsea’s youth system was lauded by Premier League fans as one of the best in Europe, but it never seemed to benefit the team at the top level. Instead, many of the exciting young players were seen shipped off elsewhere to provide an influx of cash while the senior squad purchased expensive players to play for the Blues in the biggest competitions. This season, however, the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori, and Billy Gilmour have joined Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi as Chelsea youth products to contribute significantly on the field of late. This has resulted in a fabulously entertaining brand of football that has made the Blues a must-watch.

As a biproduct, being more fun has also made the Blues much harder to hate. More on that in a moment.

Midfield brilliance: It’s certainly possible to argue that Chelsea’s midfield is the best of the Premier League this season. Although Liverpool has dominated the league table this season, their front and back lines have done the bulk of the work. For the Blues, everything starts and finishes with their midfield.

Mateo Kovacic has proven to be an exceptional purchase from the Real Madrid Bargain Bin, and the partnership he has developed with Jorginho has been rock solid. N’Golo Kante has struggled with injuries for much of the season, but when he is available, he provides a top-tier rotational option with the aforementioned duo. Add in Ross Barkley and a healthy Loftus-Cheek as a fourth and fifth option off the bench, plus the recent emergence of Gilmour, and the collection of players is tough to top.

Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring against Valencia in the Champions League (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images).

Christian Pulisic: You didn’t think you were getting out of here without seeing this man highlighted, did you?

Christian Pulisic’s presence at Chelsea has obviously been incredibly entertaining for USMNT fans, but it goes beyond that. The American brings an exciting mindset to the field every time he steps on the pitch, and that had been evident at Chelsea until a nagging adductor injury robbed him of months of playing time.

It had taken some time after arriving this past summer from Borussia Dortmund, but Pulisic eventually forced his way into the starting lineup with electric attacking contributions and a creative flair. From late October through mid-December, Pulisic had a stretch where he started eight straight games, starting with his hat-trick against Burnley. Here’s to hoping that injury recoveries prove to be a silver lining from this coronavirus shutdown, with Pulisic top of that list.

Hateability: If you don’t love Chelsea, chances are you hate them, and that’s a thing to love about the Blues too. From Roman Abramovich on down, there have been plenty of villainous characters at Stamford Bridge over the last decade or two. That’s great for the sport and great for the club, because hated teams are usually have two things in common: 1) they win a lot, and 2) they draw well.

For Chelsea, that is certainly the case. A poll by The Mirror back in 2019 listed Chelsea as the most hated Premier League club. Hating a particular club is actually a fun way for league fans of other teams to stay engaged…imagine there was no team to project your hatred upon? How boring would that be? It wouldn’t be sports without equal parts loyalty and loathing, and you can thank the Blues for providing both services.

VIDEO: Christian Pulisic’s failed trick goes viral

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Christian Pulisic is continuing his comeback from injury and he’s shared a video of his home workouts.

However, the USMNT and Chelsea star will be the first to admit that this particular skill wasn’t one of his best.

Pulisic, 21, shared a video of himself juggling a ball in his backyard in England and he then attempted a trick which went wrong and ended up with him flat on his backside.

Christian Pulisic posted the video on his own social media accounts and it is great to see him smiling, back in training and having a little fun in these uncertain times, especially as he’s missed so much time with injuries over the past few months.

With the Premier League season now suspended until April 30 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pulisic will be stepping up his recovery in the coming weeks and with the news that the 2019-20 season has been ‘extended indefinitely’ past the previous June 1 deadline, he will likely get plenty of minutes for Chelsea in the final months of the season.

Here is the video of Pulisic flicking the ball up but then landing on it and although Chelsea and USMNT fans will have had their hearts in their mouth for a second, his smile was reassuring as everything was just fine.

Chelsea issue positive injury update on Pulisic

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Chelsea finally have a positive injury update on USMNT star Christian Pulisic.

Hurrah!

Pulisic, 21, last played for Chelsea on Jan. 1 as he suffered a nasty adductor injury in training.

Frank Lampard has given plenty of updates on the fitness of the American winger in recent weeks and not many of them have been positive. The latest was.

“We just had an in-house game here which Ruben and Christian Pulisic took part in,” Lampard said. “It’s great to see Christian get some minutes. He’s short of match fitness but it’s the first time the injury has felt at a level to get him on a big pitch in a relatively competitive match. That’s a big step forward, hopefully.”

Chelsea host Everton on Sunday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive game in their battle for a top four finish.

With Man United and Wolves breathing down their necks, Chelsea’s form over the last few months has been terrible compared to their fast start to the season.

The Blues have made it through to the FA Cup quarterfinals (where they will travel to Leicester City) after beating Liverpool in midweek and although they look likely to exit the UEFA Champions League at the Round of 16 stage, a top four finish and an FA Cup final appearance would be a good first season in charge for Lampard and his young players.

There’s no coincidence that Chelsea’s poor run has coincided with Pulisic’s absence as the American winger was finding his stride in the fall and his creativity and direct running gave Chelsea something different in the final third. With Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi out injured, Chelsea will be keen to have Pulisic back as soon as possible and he may be fit enough for a place on the bench this weekend or next.

Lampard and Chelsea have admitted they’ve missed Pulisic and the Pennsylvanian native pushed hard to come back sooner than expected but suffered a setback in February.

With big games coming up against top four rivals between now and the end of the season, Pulisic will be hoping to finish the season strong after a injury-hit first season in the Premier League.

Lampard still unsure when Pulisic will return

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Christian Pulisic has been out since Jan. 1 through injury and his manager at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, is still unsure as to when he will return.

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Pulisic, 21, suffered an adductor injury after Chelsea’s draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on the first day of 2020 and hasn’t appeared since.

Lampard revealed that Pulisic tried to step up his recovery at the end of January but suffered a setback. The Chelsea boss also told Pro Soccer Talk that Pulisic should be fit in mid-February. That was a few weeks ago.

“In terms of when he’s back, it is not going to be a week, it is probably be the other end of the early February break but he is getting better and he isn’t far away,” Lampard said on Jan. 21.

Ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup fifth round clash against Liverpool on Tuesday, here’s the latest update from Lampard on Pulisic.

This latest news will no doubt concern USMNT fans. They have two friendlies against the Netherlands and Wales in a few weeks time in Europe and it will likely be touch and go for Pulisic to make those games.

Chelsea have won just five of their last 16 games in the Premier League and are still in fourth place but are now just three points ahead of the chasing pack.

Christian Pulisic’s creativity has been missed and he will no doubt he incredibly frustrated that just as his debut season in England was going so well after a rough start, injury has struck. This type of adductor or hip injury is tough to call as things can go wrong on each and every step of the recovery process.

It seems unlikely he will be ruled out for a few more months but it doesn’t seem like he will return anytime soon.