There’s a little anxiety brewing in London for USMNT fans. Christian Pulisic once again didn’t start in Chelsea’s match yesterday against Everton. Just like he’s failed to in every match since new manager Thomas Tuchel took over. He hasn’t started a match in two months.
It’s strange, as Tuchel was Pulisic’s manager in Dortmund when he first burst onto the scene. Pulisic only started for half his appearances then, too, but back then it was chalked up to his tender age. It was thought the familiarity between player and manager would be a boon.
Pulisic doesn’t really fit in the 3-4-2-1 formation that Tuchel has been using since arriving in West London, as the attacking midfielders are deployed more centrally than where Pulisic usually plays. It’s not that he couldn’t, it’s just that there’s a raft of players more suited to it than him at the club.
There shouldn’t be any panic, even if transfer rumors are already starting to percolate and pictures of Pulisic on the sidelines are being dissected on social media. Product of the times. The season still has a long way to go for Chelsea, who remain well spotted in three different competitions. Pulisic will get a full preseason in the summer with Tuchel, assuming he comes through the U.S.’s loaded summer schedule unscathed. Unbelievably, given how long we’ve heard his name, he’s only 22. Certainly his place with the national team will never be under threat, unless he were to somehow play once a month with Chelsea.
Growth is never linear, and though Pulisic seemed the surest of shots for an American player, this is how it goes for just about everyone. And if he learns to play further infield in this system, he’ll only be a stronger player. Nobody wants the labor pains, they just want the baby.