When it comes to soccer, many Americans just aren’t interested.
Despite being one of the world’s biggest sports in terms of popularity, revenue and attendance, soccer fails to maintain a grip on the American population the way American football, baseball and basketball did when they were first introduced many years ago.
Regardless of its proliferating popularity, the lack of interest in soccer by the general public has persuaded many American teenagers to pick up other sports that are more popular in the states. As a result, it becomes difficult to find talented and passionate American soccer players on the world stage alongside names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney.
All of this was expected to change in 2016 when rumors began circulating about a young American playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga who displayed considerable talent and a sign of a promising career. Christian Pulisic was only 16 years old when he made the move to play in Germany as a teenager. In under a year, Pulisic worked his way from the U17 squad to secure his place on the club’s first team.
Pulisic’s exceptional performance in the Bundesliga earned him much attention both in the United States and Europe. First, he became the youngest American to ever play in a UEFA competition at the age of 17. Two months later, Pulisic became the fourth-youngest goalscorer of the Bundesliga — an accomplishment that no American had ever come close to achieving.
In the following 2016-17 season, Pulisic set yet another milestone for all U.S. soccer players: He became the youngest American ever to win a major European trophy when Dortmund lifted the DFB-Pokal Cup. The USMNT later named Pulisic the 2017 Player of the Year, a decision that came as no surprise to fans.
Nevertheless, it was in England where Pulisic ultimately earned his nickname: “Captain America.” In January 2019, Pulisic signed with Chelsea F.C. from the English Premier League for approximately £58 million. This monumental sum made Pulisic the most expensive American player in history and Dortmund’s second most expensive transfer of all time.
Things seemed to be going fantastic for Captain America in Chelsea as he managed to score a perfect hat-trick against Burnley in October 2019. He is the second American behind Clint Dempsey to do so in the English Premier League.
Two years later in the 2020-21 season, Pulisic reached the pinnacle of his career when he scored against Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal round. In the second leg, Pulisic provided a crucial assist for Mason Mount to push Chelsea into the final round of UEFA Champions League where they defeated Manchester City.
As a result, Pulisic became the first American to play in a UEFA Champions League final and the second American to win a UEFA Champions League trophy.
In terms of his contribution to the USMNT, Pulisic continues to be an essential component of the team’s framework. His consistent caps with the team alongside his playmaking ability were significant factors in enabling the U.S. to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
At the 2022 World Cup, Captain America’s impact on the team was evident in the opening match between the United States and Wales led by Gareth Bale. Pulisic’s critical assist to Tim Weah in the 35th minute of the game was enough for the team to move past Wales had it not been for Bale’s late penalty that ended the game in a tie.
Pulisic continued his dominating performance when he scored against Iran eight days later to secure the United States’ spot in the knockout stage against the Dutch. Despite the U.S.’s failure to beat the Netherlands in the round of 16, Pulisic and other American youngsters left Qatar with a promising future for the next World Cup.
With the highly anticipated 2023-24 season approaching, soccer fans around the world were anxious to know where Pulisic would end up after Chelsea’s terrible performance in the English Premier League. Many fans predicted that Captain America would ultimately decide to leave Chelsea due to his lack of playing time there.
The big news finally came on July 13 when Chelsea announced that Pulisic was traded to A.C. Milan of the Italian Serie A league. With his previous successes in the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League, expectations remained high for this young American.
Pulisic remains an American phenom in the eyes of avid soccer fans, and with this new turn in his career, the next question becomes: will Captain America shine in Italy?