Our resident Stateside blogger, Stephen Rea, is back with his latest column for the Chelsea website, this time analysing the start Christian Pulisic has made in English football... It’s been a tough start to the season for Chelsea fans, results-wise at least. Successive defeats to a pair of traditional rivals to kick off a new campaign is never fun.
But for those of us who support the Blues here in the USA, there have been plenty of positives. We have seen Christian Pulisic make both his competitive debut, and also start for the first time in a meaningful game.
We have been waiting more than seven months for this moment, since Chelsea made him the most expensive American player in history when he signed in January from Borussia Dortmund.
I watched our fixture against Manchester United at Finn McCool’s, the Irish pub that is the centre of the New Orleans football scene. It was packed, much busier than it’s been for the corresponding match for the past few years.
When Pulisic came up as a 58th-minute substitute, many Chelsea fans stood up to applaud him. Obviously he couldn’t hear them, but much like yelling at a player to shoot or pass when you are watching a contest on TV, it’s an instinctive reaction to something you care about.
And that ovation in Louisiana was not a unique reaction, as I saw multiple videos from around the States posted by supporters’ clubs and chapters in different regions of the country. Chelsea followers from coast to coast did the same thing, rising and clapping to welcome our new U.S. star.
However it is not only fans of the Blues who are taking an interest in his career, and the attention his signing has generated is unprecedented here in the USA. Even committed supporters of our direct challengers are watching his performances and closely following his progress.
Yes, other Americans have turned out for Premier League teams - indeed we have another, defender Matt Miazga is currently on loan at Reading - but none of the previous transfers to England have had as high a profile as Pulisic’s. A lot is expected of him by the Stateside football/soccer enthusiasts, still smarting from a failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup for the first time in 32 years.
It is of course risky and pre-emptive to read too much into anything too soon. But the early signs are promising, and hopefully our trans-Atlantic trailblazer will only get better and better.
By Stephen Rea, Blogger from America