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US head coach on Pulisic’s first season: ‘He’s overcome adversity and is in a good spot to grow’

Speaking exclusively to the Chelsea Mike’d Up podcast, USA head coach Gregg Berhalter has explained why he has been delighted with Christian Pulisic’s development since the attacker moved to England.

The pause in play has provided a chance to take stock, something rarely afforded in football. For Christian Pulisic, it has given him time to fully recover from an injury that blighted the beginning of his 2020. Before then, the American had burst into form in a Chelsea shirt, scoring six goals in quick succession, including an eye-opening hat-trick at Burnley.

Pulisic himself told this website last week he has had ‘a really fun season, it’s been awesome’. His national team manager, former defender Gregg Berhalter, has also liked what he has seen in Chelsea blue from his star man so far. He was a special guest on the Chelsea Mike’d Up podcast last week and gave hosts Mike Ryan Ruiz and Chris Wittyngham his verdict on Pulisic’s campaign to date.

‘When Christian was moving from Dortmund to Chelsea we knew there was going to be an adaptation period,’ said Berhalter, who took charge of the USMNT in 2018.

‘The Premier League is an extremely fast and physical league, and we knew time would be needed for him to get up to speed. What I really like about how his season unfolded, particularly in the beginning, is that he had to endure adversity to overcome struggle.

‘He had to get used to the English game. It took time, and as he did that he came out performing really well, helping the team and scoring goals and being influential. All these things we projected him being able to do took an understandable time period. 

‘When you go into the injury period he had, it’s unfortunate because he was in such good form. The next part of it was him dealing with a serious injury. He was in a lot of pain. It was a difficult injury to come back from quickly although I know the fans wanted him back.’

Berhalter has noted one facet of Pulisic’s game in particular that has got better since his move to London.

‘The thing he’s really improved on that I’ve seen this year is his finishing ability,’ stated the 46-year-old.

‘He’s done a great job of that, and it’s something the high-level players, when you look at the top players in the world, they’re able to score a big number of goals because they have that finishing quality.’

Also on the podcast, which is released weekly, Berhalter spoke about how Pulisic fits into the current Chelsea squad as one of a number of youngsters flourishing under Frank Lampard.

‘Some of his best actions for Chelsea have been when he’s central, playing the ball behind the line, combining and making things happen in a central position, but having moved inside from the wing.

‘Both Chelsea and us want him affecting the game, in a position where he can hurt the opponent. Sometimes it’s going to be wide, sometimes that’s going to be central.

‘It’s a different Chelsea than we’re used to seeing,' added Berhalter. 'It’s interesting what they’re doing and that they’re still able to get results. They’ve done a great job of that with a young team. They have an athletic team with exciting players in key positions, and to me it’s been fun to watch.

‘Christian has the quality that he can adapt with a more experienced team as well, but there’s a lot of room for these players to grow and he’s in a good spot.’

To hear more from Berhalter talking about Pulisic, as well as past episodes featuring exclusive interviews with our American star, Reece James and plenty of other Chelsea greats, head to your podcast platform of choice where you can subscribe to Chelsea Mike’d Up, aimed at Blues supporters in the US. 

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