Christian Pulisic understands the perception: the idea that the US men’s team can win the World Cup is not worth contemplating. There is nothing in the team’s history to suggest otherwise.
For strangers, that’s okay. Did not matter. For him, going to the World Cup with a defeatist mindset would defy logic.
“If you don’t believe it can happen, it won’t,” ESPN’s Pulisic told Hercules Gomez in an interview with Futbol Americas. (Each episode is streamed on ESPN+). “We’ve definitely seen crazier things happen, and I really believe we have a strong team, a strong group of guys who can make anything happen. So that’s the way I’m thinking and the way I’m going to secure this World Cup.”
He doesn’t want to put an artificial limit on what a team can achieve or how to determine success four months before the tournament begins. What exactly will that achieve?
“I think we are going there with the intention of winning the World Cup,” he said. “We’re going to have a confident, hungry team that won’t hold back on anyone and feel we can really make strides in this World Cup.”
Pulisic is in the United States for Chelsea’s pre-season tour, which began on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Club America in Las Vegas. The American winger did not find the score sheet after entering a substitute in the first half.
It’s an important preparatory season for Pulisic as he continues to battle for his place under coach Thomas Tuchel. Chelsea recently completed a deal for winger Raheem Sterling from Manchester City, which will make it difficult for Pulisic to get consistent minutes after spending last season in and out of the squad.
“This is just life in a big club,” he said. “We have great and compassionate quality we are really excited about. The nice thing about being at a club like this is the competition every day. We all manage to compete with each other in training. She is just another great addition to the team and it doesn’t change much.”
“I still have to play hard and get into my position like I did before. Nothing crazy. This is Chelsea. This is this, what I signed up for and this is the kind of club it is with of the caliber of our players,” Pulisic said.
The club has gone through a slew of changes off the field this off-season after transferring ownership to American businessman Todd Boley, who also owns minority stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers. For the players, it didn’t result in many daily changes, but Pulisic said Buhli’s arrival was well received in the locker room.
“I think they came in and did a really good job in the way they talked to the players and staff and just wanted to use the same mentality as Chelsea – the winning mentality,” Pulisic said. “But also they bring their American ways, some of their ways of working, how they bring in and integrate that into this team.”
Boehle is not the only American to enter his influence in the world’s largest league. After being appointed to Leeds United last season and helping the club avoid relegation, coach Jesse Marsh brought in US national team players Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams to bolster the roster ahead of his first full season in charge. It’s an enthusiastic trend for Pulisic.
“I’m really proud to see Americans doing what they’re doing in the Premier League right now,” he said. “There are a lot of men traveling to Europe and they are now great managers [is in] Great job at Leeds and I think just keeping them up last season was a good achievement and I was really happy to see that. And now with Brenden, with Tyler, I think if they do a good season, it will do wonders for us as a country.”
He will work towards one of Pulisic’s biggest goals for himself: inspiring the next generation of American footballers.
“I grew up in a country that might not have been very attractive to play here in the United States,” he said. “My goal has always been to play in Europe, and I just hope the kids will watch and see what I’m doing and think, ‘Maybe one day we can have my league at that level. “