Americans Abroad: Don’t rush Christian Pulisic with Chelsea

Christian Pulisic

Welcome to Americans Abroad, the weekly segment that discusses the performances of USMNT players outside of the states, from South America to Europe.

Editorial — With the return of the beautiful game in England, it fully feels like soccer in Europe is back. Domestic soccer will be returning in the United States this weekend, with the NWSL Challenge Cup kicking off on Saturday. And hopefully, the MLS is Back Tournament can bring some of that much-needed soccer itch to the states as well.

So with a full slate of soccer across the pond, how did the Americans fair?

Spoiler Alert: Pretty darn well.

In the Spotlight

Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
Reyna played 81’ at RW in Dortmund’s 2-0 win vs. RB Leipzig

While there can be an argument that Gio Reyna had the best performance of any American last weekend, there is no doubt that he had the most surprising.

After a rollercoaster post-quarantine spell which saw the 17-year-old grasping at minutes, Reyna received his first Bundesliga start and took full advantage. His unselfish assist to Haaland should also be in every tika taka textbook.

However, what shocked me most about Reyna’s performance was his willingness to do the dirty work throughout the match. Playing nearly half of his passes in his own half, putting in a good amount of tackles and leading the match in duels were just some of the statistical evidence of Reyna’s work.

While the debates will rage on regarding his form vs. Christian Pulisic’s at Dortmund, there is no doubt his ability to be a special player like his father is well and truly there.

Stats

Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Chances Created: 2
Pass Accuracy: 85%
Dribbles (Succesful:) 5 (4; Most in the match)
Duels (won:) 17 (10; Most in the match)
Match Rating: 7.7

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC)
Pulisic played 35’ at LW in Chelsea’s 2-1 win vs. Aston Villa

I know I may have annoyed some viewers with the title of this article, so allow me to annoy the other side of the aisle as well. When fully fit, Pulisic is currently the most talented player on Chelsea.

Think about Mason Mount, Mateo Kovacic, N’golo Kante or Cesar Azpilicueta. None of them has the electric ability to change the course of the match quite like Pulisic. And when Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrive next season, Chelsea’s front three with Pulisic will topple any other front three in the Premier League.

 

So, why am I advocating for him to stay as a substitute? Because in the last two years, Pulisic has had eight different injuries which have kept him out of 24 matches. Premier League fans will tell you, it’s not just gonna become less intense over time.

Strength has always been a weakness for the Hershey, Pa., native. Rather than throw him in the starting XI, get him on for 30 minutes in every match, let him become the game-changer you needed and go to sleep at night knowing Mark Noble and Dale Stephens didn’t two-foot him into another muscle injury.

This way once Ziyech and Werner arrive, Pulisic will be ready to be the third head. In the meantime, embrace the super substitute possibilities.

Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Chances Created: 1
Pass Accuracy: 63%
Dribbles (Succesful:) 1 (0)
Duels (won:) 7 (2)
Match Rating: 7.2

Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic)
Robinson played 71’ at LB in Wigan Athletic’s 2-0 win vs. Huddersfield Town

The Antonee Robinson story is one of the weirdest, tragic, yet inspiring stories in world soccer.

  • Never received a youth cap for England, later became a USMNT player.
  • Worked his way up the Everton ranks.
  • Became a key player at 19 for Bolton Wanderers.
  • Became a leader at Wigan Athletic.
  • Set for a move to AC Milan.
  • During his physical, a heart murmur was discovered, cancelling his Serie A dream and presumably his season.

In another twist of fate, Robinson was set to be fit for the first time since his heart murmur in the biggest match of the season to survive the drop against Huddersfield.

It would be in this match the Robinson pulled off the best performance of his career. Send a prayer to Chris Wallock and Danny Simpson tonight, because Robinson absolutely terrorized the two Huddersfield players all afternoon.

I feel bad even watching this.

https://twitter.com/USMNTvideos/status/1274793883755597825

 

I don’t know what the next chapter of Robinson’s story will be. However, if it’s anything like we’ve seen, expect it to be nothing short of spectacular.

Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Chances Created: 1
Pass Accuracy: 55%
Dribbles (Succesful:) 1 (1)
Duels (won:) 11 (6)
Tackles (Succesful:) 4 (3)
Interceptions: 3
Recoveries: 8
Match Rating: 7.5

Cameron Carter-Vickers (Luton Town)
Carter-Vickers played the full 90 at CB in Luton Town’s 1-1 draw vs. Preston North End

When I did my piece on Erik Palmer-Brown, I mentioned how much depth was in this USMNT centerback pool. Here’s another “fringe” player that will most likely not make a FIFA World Cup squad.

 

To put it professionally, Carter-Vickers is one of the toughest and bravest centre backs I have ever seen in the national team pool. His lack of technical ability is made up by his instinct to defend, paired with the British identity of never being afraid of putting in a challenge.

To put it as a fan, Carter-Vickers is the most unnecessarily extra centre back I have ever seen.

If the Tottenham loanee can manage to build consistency on the back, the gap between him and the USMNT may not be so big after all.

Goals: 0
Assists: 0
Chances Created: 0
Pass Accuracy: 72%
Dribbles (Succesful:) 1 (1)
Duels (won:) 13 (10)
Tackles (Succesful:) 3 (3)
Interceptions: 1
Recoveries: 2
Match Rating: 7.7 (Man of the Match)

Chris Richards (Bayern Munich)
Richards played 6’ at CB in Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win vs. Freiburg

Everyone remembers their first appearance for their club. In the case of Chris Richards, the occasion shuts out the major scrutiny he took when leaving FC Dallas for Bayern Munich back in 2019. 

A move that shocked MLS and USMNT fans alike, Richards proved his work with Bayern II, becoming the best centre back in the division and warranted a deserved call up.

Here’s to many more, Chris!

Not enough minutes played for stats.

Germany

Weston McKennie (Schalke 04)
McKennie played the full 90 at CM in Schalke’s 4-1 loss vs. Wolfsburg

In a complete opposite performance that we are accustomed too, McKennie was superb in attack and was over his head on defense. Schalke continues to struggle and McKennie continues to not make a difference in that.

Match Rating: 6.7

John Brooks (VFL Wolfsburg)
Brooks played the full 90 at CB in Wolfsburg’s 4-1 win vs. Schalke

Brooks was part of a dominant Wolfsburg performance en route to a Europa League berth. Time will tell if Brooks will be along for the ride.

Match Rating: 7.0

Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)

Adams played 44′ at CM in Leipzig’s 2-0 loss vs. Dortmund

The last couple of performances have been subpar for Adams, who notably struggled in the midweek draw against Fortuna Dusseldorf. After a season marred with injuries and being placed all over the pitch when healthy, it is safe to say Adams will enjoy putting his 2019-20 campaign behind him.

Match Rating: 6.4

Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Chandler played 63′ at RWB in Frankfurt’s 1-1 draw vs. Koln

The frustratingly inconsistent Chandler persists through another underwhelming campaign. A role as a super-sub surely is the German-Americans next course of action for minutes in the Bundesliga.

Match Rating: 6.4

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Sargent played the full 90 at ST in Werder Bremen’s 3-1 loss vs. Mainz

When talking about the young American in my sports broadcasting group chat, USL commentator Mark Schoenster said Sargent had a “spirited performance” vs. Mainz.

“Spirited performance.” — USL Commentator Mark Schoenster.

“Puts a lot of effort into the match.” — Bundesliga expert Matt Drabble.

“Tries REALLY hard!.” — LWOS’s own Nicolas Severini.

The quotes for saying that Sargent has no technical ability but puts in a shift continue to roll.

Match Rating: 6.7

Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Unused sub vs. Augsburg

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Not in squad vs. Augsburg

Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Not in squad; set to leave at the end of the season for MLS.

Julian Green (Gruether Fürth)
Green played the full 90 at CM in Greuther Fürth’s 2-2 draw vs. Bochum

With Greuther out of the promotion playoff entirely, it looks like another season in the 2. Bundesliga for Green. The haters get another victory.

Match Rating: 6.5

Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
Not in squad; set to leave at the end of the season.

England   

Deandre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Yedlin played 1′ at RWB in Newcastle’s 3-0 win vs. Sheffield United

Welcome back to the premier league, Deandre!

Duane Holmes (Derby County)
Holmes played 62′ at RM in Derby County’s 3-2 vs. Millwall

After an incredible victory for Derby, look out for them making a late push for the promotion playoffs.

Match Rating: 6.3

Tim Ream (Fulham)
Ream played the full 90 at CB in Fulham’s 2-0 loss vs. Brentford

A poor performance from Ream and Fulham, who are now guaranteed to miss a guaranteed promotion spot. To the playoffs they go.

Match Rating: 6.1

Geoff Cameron (QPR)
Not in squad (suspension)

Eric Lichaj (Hull City)

Not in Squad; set to leave at the end of the season

Luca de la Torre (Fulham)

Not in Squad; Last Appearance:

Rest of Europe

Tyler Boyd (Besiktas; Turkish Superleague)
Boyd played 21′ at LM in Besiktas’s 5-1 win vs. Denizlispor

After a very disappointing season for Besiktas, they still have a chance to snatch a Europa League place with six matches to go and four points to make up.

Match Rating: 6.4

Andrija Novakovic (Frosinone; Serie B)
Novakovich played 82′ at ST in Frosinone’s 0-0 draw vs. Trapani

The dropped points place Frosinone two points shy of automatic promotion. As an avid Serie A fan, I’m desperate for an American in the Italian league. Can Novakovich be the difference?

Match Rating: 6.0

Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien; Austrian Bundesliga)
Palmer-Brown played the full 90 in Austria Wien’s 2-1 win vs. Swarovski Tirol

Another exceptional performance, another Wien victory. Spot a trend?

Match Rating: 6.9

Ben Lederman (RKS Rakow; Polish Ekstraklasa)

Lederman played 7′ at CM in Rakow’s 3-1 win vs. Krakow

A debut in the Polish league for Lederman.

Match Rating not available.

Christian Cappis (Hobro IK; Danish Superligaen)
Cappis played 87′ at CM in Hobro’s 3-1 win vs. Esbjerg

It was a dominant performance for Cappis, who showed off a defensive threat that we have not seen from the American.

Match Rating: 7.0

Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro IK; Danish Superligaen)

Sabbi played 90′ at RM in Hobro’s 3-1 win vs, Esbjerg. Sabbi wasn’t as impressive, with most of Hobro’s attacking threat coming from Edgar Babayan on the left

Match Rating: 6.3

The Abroad Top 20

I was criticized for placing Reyna so low. After last weekend’s performance, I would like to humbly apologize.

POS. Name Club Change
1. Cristian Pulisic Chelsea =
2. Weston McKennie Schalke 04 ^ 1
3. Tyler Adams RB Leipzig V 1
4. Sergino Dest Ajax =
5. John Brooks Wolfsburg =
6. Zach Steffen Fortuna Dusseldorf =
7. Timmy Chandler Eintracht Frankfurt =
8. Gio Reyna Dortmund ^ 3
9. Tyler Boyd Besiktas V 1
10. Antonee Robinson Wigan V 1
11. DeAndre Yedlin Newcastle United V 1
12. Alfredo Morales Fortuna Dusseldorf =
13. Tim Weah Lille =
14. Josh Sargent Werder Bremen =
15. Duane Holmes Derby County =
16. Matt Miazga Reading =
17. Andrija Novakovich Frosinone =
18. Cameron Carter Vickers Fulham ^ 3
19. Erik Palmer-Brown Austria Wien =
20. Emmanuel Sabbi Hobro IK =

Out of rankings: Tim Ream

All Stats via FotMob

Embed from Getty Images


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