Of all the players chewed up and spat out by Chelsea in recent seasons, we feared most for Christian Pulisic.
After signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2019, in a deal handily completed before Chelsea were slapped by a transfer ban, Pulisic was hailed as ‘Captain America’ by the club’s supporters excited at signing one of world football’s biggest young talents.
Despite Pulisic showing flashes of promise under Frank Lampard, transfer-addicts Chelsea kept buying more and more wingers. His form dipped. His head dropped. His sale became inevitable.
The American has made a solid start to life at AC Milan, scoring four goals and providing an assist in his seven Serie A appearances to date.
When asked how he has taken to life in Italy by Gazetto della Sport, Pulisic responded: “Really great, I’m really happy.
“I’m starting to get to know Italian culture and it’s all very nice, the fans are extraordinary. They immediately made me feel at home, their support is fundamental and it’s giving me a lot.”
After becoming something of a shell at Chelsea, a haunted look creeping across his coupon following another anonymous performance, the USA captain has been unleashed by Stefano Pioli.
“He’s an excellent coach, as well as being a person of great depth,” Pulisic said. “He encourages you to give your best without making concessions but he’s also ready to cheer you up and help you when you make mistakes.
“I feel his trust and that’s fantastic. I’m really happy to have him as a coach.”
And the 25-year-old provided a reminder of just what he can do with a jaw-dropping solo goal during the USA’s 3-1 defeat against Germany in an international friendly in East Hartford.
Picking up the ball inside the German half, Pulisic floated infield as if already ascending to another realm. Faced with an opponent approaching immortality, Antonio Rudier’s solution was to backpedal while quietly soiling himself.
Having been given the length and breadth of the East Coast by the German defence, the AC Milan forward shifted the ball onto his right foot and launched a boomerang towards Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s goal.
Ter Stegen, who’s achieved more clean sheets than an industrial laundrette at Barcelona, began diving to save Pulisic’s effort before quickly realising the futility of such a feat.
Instead, the Germany goalkeeper got down on his haunches and admired the ball as it sailed past him into the top corner.
Pulisic proceeded to attempt three celebrations in one, indicating how his metamorphosis to Diego Maradona had scrambled his own brain too.
Christian Pulisic unleashes a beauty!
What a goal from the captain. 🇺🇸
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 14, 2023
“It hurts us,” he said after the game, despite his entry into the pantheon of wonder goals. “We had a good start to the game and I think we hurt them in many moments.
“But (we had) little mistakes here and there. We have to give them credit. They have unbelievable players. They played a very strong game.”
Meanwhile, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said: “The tactical flexibility Germany showed today was challenging… We played a good first half but conceded goals too easily.
“”In all three goals, there was a disconnect between the defence and the midfield. The general lack of order in those three plays is a bit of a disappointment for us.
“Games against opponents like that can’t be that open.”
The US will continue to build towards the 2026 World Cup, a tournament they’ll be hoping to make an impact on beyond staging the vast majority of its matches.
And there’s little doubt that Pulisic will be the host’s poster boy when the football world rocks up in three years time. Maradona-esque solo efforts tend to enshrine your popularity among coaches, team-mates and supporters alike.
It also showed us as fools. There was no need to fear for Pulisic post-Chelsea after all.
By Michael Lee