Christian Pulisic delivers in biggest game of his club career

In the biggest club match of his club career, Christian Pulisic came through with a goal that earned Chelsea a 1-1 tie at Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal series.

Chelsea was by far the better team in the first half, and Pulisic one its main instigators, so he was a little unhappy with the result even though the Blues enter the second leg with the edge thanks to their away goal.

"[The goal] is a proud moment," Pulisic said in his post-game interview with CBS Sports, "but the job’s nowhere near done. We were disappointed obviously. We need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal and we could’ve put the game away a bit earlier."

Pulisic's goal was his fifth in five seasons in the Champions League, breaking the American record for goals he shared with DaMarcus Beasley.

It took a while for Pulisic to fit into Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel's system, but he was perfectly placed, tucked in on the right of the attack, to torment the Real Madrid defense with the ball at his feet, especially in the first half.

It was a play, though, where he ran in behind the Real Madrid defense, connecting on defender Antonio Rudiger's long pass, that led to the early Chelsea goal.

Pulisic timed his run perfectly to stay onside, picked Rudiger's ball out of the air and broke in on Thibaut Courtois. He wasn't intimidated by the giant Real Madrid keeper and had the patience to wait to elude him before firing the ball into the goal.

“It was a great finish, great composure,” Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta. “He’s an amazing player, he’s a young player, he’s growing and improving. I’m very pleased with his goal because he’s an important player for the team.”

Tuchel said the goal was well deserved but Chelsea should have been ahead in the first half if it did better with the last ball. Instead, Karim Benzema equalized in the 29th minute with his 13th goal in his last 14 matches.

"We should have scored a minimum one more goal," the German said. "The goal came more or less out of nothing but that can always happen when you are faced with individual quality from Real Madrid."

April 27 in Madrid
Real Madrid 1 Chelsea 1
. Goals: Benzema 29; Pulisic 14.
Real Madrid --
Courtois; Militao, Varane, Nacho; Carvajal (Odriozola 77), Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Marcelo (Asensio 76); Benzema (Rodrygo 90+1), Vinicius Junior (Hazard 66).
Chelsea --
Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (James 66), Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner (Havertz 66), Pulisic (Ziyech 66).

25 comments about "Christian Pulisic delivers in biggest game of his club career".
  1. frank schoon, April 28, 2021 at 9:36 a.m.

    The goal looked nice as far as theatrics go after receiving the ball, but to me it was the pass that was 'OUTSTANDING' in this play. But as I so often notice the typical reportage on goals is always about the 'goal', 'the stats', 'the first time ever', or the goal tied a record for this or that.....I think a lot times these things are written for staticians to read, not the fans.

    This whole exercise tells one the overal level of soccer we are at in this country. In other words until the soccer fans, journalists ,etc begin to see and understand the game beyond than just getting excited  watching the ball hitting the net for a goal improving our game wlll take so much longer.  Our soccer commentators ,a perfect example, reflect this low level of soccer 'understanding'

    Just look and watch and watch again, how Rudiger made that pass. First of all he's talking with his feet to his forwards in the manner of how he rolled the ball twice under his foot. When you roll the ball you keep it close to your body and therefore it obviates taking an extra (step) ,a dribble. In other words ,if he took a dribble, he creates a gap of space or time that he can't be with the ball if a forward decides to make a run.

    With the rolling of the ball he's able to pass the ball at anytime, so all he's doing is inviting someone to make a run. The BEAUTY of the pass is the execution itself. Note his body balance as portrayed by his left arm, and the bend of the left leg, allowing the right leg(foot),just enough, to go  underneath the ball giving it enough height and timing so it could drop on Pulisic's right foot...Also note his left foot stance was  flat,  saying ,in other words, that the pass will not be very long at all but more of a medium range. This pass takes so much touch.. a work of Art....

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  2. Santiago 1314 replied, April 28, 2021 at 9:28 p.m.

    Frank; Still can't Admit that Pulisic is NOT just a "Turbo" Player... Next Stop for CP, Farcelona ... And Tiki-Taka ... He "Shined" the whole Game ... Can't Believe that the Transfer isn't already under Way...  120 Million Transfer ought to Do It; Maybe 150... By the way, Doesn't change my View of Him with the US National Team... LOSER; No Gaurantee that US will Qualify for next WC.

  3. frank schoon replied, April 29, 2021 at 8:39 a.m.


  4. frank schoon, April 28, 2021 at 10:18 a.m.

    So much can be read ,the nuances, by how the ball is passed to a teammate. This is another facet of the game that is not taught to players...What you want to happen next can be deducted by how the pass is made to your teammate. For example, I'm coming to midfield with the ball looking to pass, my teammate  a midfielder ,facing me, has an opponent behind him. I see an opportunity to create a give and go. I give my midfielder a slower pass, which invites the opponent to think ,"  I can intercept this ball". We both understand the opponent will go for the ball, and therefore my mid will shield the ball just enough for me to receive the ball back and by pass the opponent. This play, in effect, creates the extra man at midfield who will be the 'free man'. THIS IS THE WHOLE SECRET OF BUILDING UP FROM THE BACK, CREATING THE OPEN , 'FREE MAN'.....By having the open man you force the opponent to sacrifice a defender to pick up a the free man on attack.

    The initial pass to midfield out of the back, the manner in how it is passed, which foot , the speed, tells the receiver what he should do, for the passer has a better view of what is happening downfield, so he is sort directing you.....Ofcourse, our soccer , at the level we're at ,we just want the damn ball out of the backfield, NEANDERTHAL STYLE.

    Another example, is the manner in how I  pass to a wing tells him how he should cross  the ball. The manner of how I pass to him on the run will tell him whether it should go to the first post or second post. These are technical nuances that all the players situated in the opponent's third will have to understand and as such will position themselves in a manner reflected in the pass I give the wing. In other words, the attackers will positioned  a step ahead of what will happen next.

    Your goalie, for example, right footed, kicks the ball out holding the ball with his left or right hand.
    In  quick counters ,or break aways, from the goalie, if it's the former you will need as an opponent to keep an eye on the your right side of the midfield and in the latter the left side. Or on quick drop kicks from the goalie, there is no need to worry ,defensively speaking, if their front line in the middle consist of a tall player(s), for quick drops are more effective if you have a quick short front line....

    In sum, the manner in how passes is a dialogue between the passer and the receiver that I don't see much of....

  5. David Ruder replied, April 28, 2021 at 10:47 a.m.

    Yea frank, nice pass!

  6. Craig Sexton replied, April 28, 2021 at 6:07 p.m.

    Hey Frank Goalies play hockey that my friend is a goalkeeper for those that understand the nuances of futbol

  7. Mike Beaudry replied, April 29, 2021 at 1:58 a.m.

    Frank yeah it was a nice pass n nice goal. Gee funny Frank u made no mention of the header he put right on his teammates foot that should have been finished. Hmmm but that be giving him credit n would require u being critical of Timo Werner a German! Oh i forgot Germans n Dutch don't make mistakes because they are raised in a football environment.
    Hmmm you do know Pulisics father was a pro right n his mother a collegiate player n he spent several years growing up in England.
    Tired of guys like u who think all american fans of the game are ignorant.  I am 63 n been around the game for over 58 years!

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, April 29, 2021 at 10:23 p.m.

    US fans are ignorant compared to European and South American fans. Of course that is a generalization, but it is generally true. Most of the US fans have never played the game competitively and don't know the rules. No one can figure out the rules by just watching the game. As for appreciating good soccer, most US fans don't understand the game's tactics. Those same fans can discuss minutia of football and baseball tactics, but not soccer tactics.

    We have come a long way. In 1970 our college soccer was lower level than Sunday Beer Leagues in England. We have come along way since. We have all the parts we need to improve the level of play, but everything is controlled by USSF, which isn't interested in changing anything. USSF is the head of amatuer soccer in the US, but they are dedicated to promoting the soccer industry, not amatuer athletes. Every pro starts out as an amatuer so this failure is significant.

  9. Nick Gabris, April 28, 2021 at 11:30 a.m.

    Another novel by Frank S....Pulisic play, somethig to celebrate! :)

  10. Jonas Cox, April 28, 2021 at 12:40 p.m.

    Great analysis, Frank. My son is a U15 winger, and plays at a "high" level, but I agree, these kind of nuances aren't being taught, certainly not explicitly. Can you elaborate on how a pass to the wing can dictate whether he crosses to the far or near post?

  11. frank schoon replied, April 28, 2021 at 1:59 p.m.

    Jonas ,a simple way would be if the wing receives or comes to the ball chasing it down and ends up with chest facing the goal for this would allow for a quick hard and low cross coming to the first post. If he's facing the endline than the cross would go to far post.  I'm talking in terms of left wing with left foot or right wing with right foot.
    So for example, I the left halfback, notices that at far post there no one close but there is someone who could make it by the near post. Now ,at that moment, realizing all the wing has to do  is to  make a one-touch cross. Most players  don't think about the finer aspects beyond the pass itself,  like " HOW CAN I PASS THE BALL TO MAKE IT EASY FOR THE WING; Instead they think in terms of 'here, the ball is yours....They just pass the ball 'willy nilly' without really thinking about  a one-touch scenario in this case and therefore pass is made  in manner that is not most CONDUCIVE for him to reach the first post attacker.

    The problem we have is that our boys are not taught to think 'continuity' of the pass you make for the next receiver. Just look at how the teams build up from the back, how square or backward passes do you count. When you build up THE  GOLDEN RULE is that a pass must beat an opponent. 
    Otherwise you don't solve the problem, passing square or backwars is NO SOLUTION.  All you're doing when PASSING SQUARE, is to basically, I GOT RID OF IT , YOU DO SOMETHING WITH IT.

  12. Bryan Holland, April 28, 2021 at 1:06 p.m.

    The timing of Pulisic's run looked pretty darn good too Frank!

  13. frank schoon replied, April 28, 2021 at 2:03 p.m.

    Bryan, It was not the timing of Pulisic for he began the run itself. It was the timing of Rudiger's pass to fit in with Pulisic's run. The timing of the pass and how it was able to drop on Pulisic's foot was perfect. Your point is well taking if Rudigers made the initial pass where upon Pulisic made the run to meet the ball...

  14. frank schoon replied, April 28, 2021 at 2:12 p.m.

    Bryan, what I forgot to mention that Pulisic did nicely wat at the 58-59 second of the video. Note how he evades the goalie by pushing the ball away outward and immediately brought it back with the inside of the foot. The crucial part which he did well was that he didn't push the ball too far outwards and therefore losing perhaps control of the ball and timing of the run.

  15. beautiful game, April 28, 2021 at 2:33 p.m.

    It was Pulisic's composure and the extra touch after receiving the pass that superb. P saw some space and took it to his advantage. P reacted and made it happen.

  16. Ric Fonseca, April 28, 2021 at 5:43 p.m.

    Wowsers!!!  El Senor Pancho (FS above) has yet again given us a thesis on Pulisic's processes of scoring a goal.  Perhaps, Senor Pancho/FS, you ought to write a sports-related thesis or dissertation on how goals are scored,  though I applaud you for having taken the time and energy on the fluid and athletic mechanics of goal scoring, and yes, I'd buy a copy of his thesis/dissertation, and I bet a University nears his town would welcome his academic/athletic sports related futbol brilliance.

  17. Ben Myers, April 28, 2021 at 10:24 p.m.

    The pass by Rudiger was right on the money.  Tuchel has also revitalized Rudiger's career, after his time in the doldrums with Conte and Lampard. Rudiger played with great confidence against PSG and his pass to Pulisic was one of many, short and long, accurate ones.

  18. Vince Leone, April 29, 2021 at 2:27 a.m.

    Frank writes too much.

  19. frank schoon, April 29, 2021 at 9:21 a.m.

    Guys, I would recommend for those who have sons/daughters, like Philip, Humble, Jonas, etc.,others to try working on that Rudiger pass. This pass brings out everything that has to do with touch not power. The pass, to me, is secondary, for it is the TOUCH on the ball which is gained that is more important.l

    Up until my early 60's when I had my knee replacements, I would always have 20 balls, flagposts and a couple hula hoops in my trunk of my car to work out. I have always been a great believer in whatever you teach in soccer, you need to be able to demonstrate it as well. 

    I would recommend to try working on the Rudiger pass in the following way. Guess about the distance or length of the Rudiger pass, and place there a line of flags downfield, then place a few flags about 10steps beyond. In this particular area is where the ball should drop. You can vary the lenght of the pass placing extra flags 10steps in front of those line of flags, also. In other words you vary the length of the pass, shorter, long. The important thing right now is not the accuracy which will come later but gaining a TOUCH on the ball that allows to make those passes. Don't forget ,keep in mind that it is not the pass but the TOUCH one gains from this exercise.  The secret is that once you acquire the touch so many other types of passes are easier to execute for all passes have technical derivative.

    Soccer season is almost over so now it is a good time to work on it. Attempt this pass 100x a day. 5 sets if you have 20balls...Initially try copying Rudiger rolling technique ,and later on try it with a couple dribbles. You'll see the difference in TOUCH required applied in this exercise.

    It is all about TOUCH. Having played so much street soccer as a kid in Amsterdam, easily 20-30hours a week, I acquired a TOUCH on the ball ,especially dribbling. That TOUCH facilitated or opened the door for me to learn any other kind of move much easier. Furthermore you acquire also the ability to read the opponent's NUANCES when he has the ball, which is something that can't be taught but only learned through experience.....In other words ,licensed coaches can't teach this to you.

  20. Philip Carragher, April 29, 2021 at 9:50 a.m.

    Hi Frank, did you invite me into this conversation? If so thank you! This is a great dialogue and instructive. I have two additions: quickly, away from the pass/goal of Rudiger/Pulisic; how about Benzema's goal? Extraordinary! Two things about it that amaze me, first, he traps the ball with his head. Who ever does that? I've been waiting years to see a player do that, and for him to volley it from his head for a goal. Wow. Love it. Now for my addition to the above dialogue. The weight/direction of passes is sorely absent from coaching and evaluation even at some "higher" levels here in the US. My son was playing U18 Development Academy soccer and at the start of that season, his passes kept ending up getting intercepted in some form or fashion and this went on for several games. His playing time dropped and I was totally perplexed since I knew my son to be an exquisite passer of the ball. All games were taped and after watching a couple of the early ones I noticed that the player he was trying to connect with was either hesitating or stopping his run and these beautfully weighted/directed passes looked like they were his fault. I immediately contacted the coach, sent him links to about ten of these passes, and he did nothing. My kid, trying to get recruited, was now sitting rather than playing. After about three weeks of non-response, I contacted the assistant and he took a look and agreed. After five weeks of the fall season these A licensed coaches finally saw what the tapes clearly demonstrated and began imploring players to finish their runs. And one of them trains and hands out A licenses for US Soccer. Your comment about the message passes send to the receiver is spot on and a level difficult for most of us to have recognized without it being pointed out. Fortunately I had an excellent coach point that out to me and I was speechless for days. To reach that level of play under that much pressure is remarkable.

  21. frank schoon replied, April 29, 2021 at 10:31 a.m.

    Hi, Philip ,ofcourse I meant you!!! Yeah , you're right that Benzema goal was excellent. But what did it for me was the acceleration once he trapped it with his head. He speeded up the movement of play like in a cartoon so fast that the defenders didn't have time to react. If he kept the same tempo after trapping the ball he would not have scored.

    Your quote, <" The weight/direction of passes is sorely absent from coaching and evaluation even at some "higher" levels here in the US"> is RIGHT ON!!!   Remember Jerry Seinfeld famous saying, " WHO are these people?" that make these evaluations, what have they done themselves in soccer???? This is why I have always stated we need to hire those who are really qualified in areas of the game where we need evaluations. There are so many retired greats ,passers, in Europe and South America we could hire ,who have the knowledge, the ability to demonstrate, the give the deeper insights like a Pirlo, van Hanegem, Falcao, etc., and so many more.  These are the kinds of people that should be making judgments on your son. But what do we do , we get some rumdumb with A-coacing license to run the show and evaluate and your son's coach,by not reacting says enough about his limitations and ego......

    Your son has to be proud of you for how you went about showing these A-licensed nutbags the truth...
    If only more fathers were like you and ofcourse helps when you understand like you do.

    So often, a player can look bad, like what happen in your son's case, not due to his play but play of others. For example a winger can have a shitty game and can totally not be his fault for it is his teammates that caused it. A good example was in the women's Swedish game where Press played wing but was never thus forcing Horan behind her to get stuck on the wing. As a result Horan stunk for she was isolated and not able to play to her strength which is combinational play with her teammates. I was surprised the coach didn't see that right away, for it came a disaster for our overal attack.

    Like I say Philip coaching is "seeing" ,for you can acquire 10 A-licenses but that doesn't mean you "SEE" the game....l

  22. Philip Carragher, April 29, 2021 at 12:32 p.m.

    Benzema's acceleration. Good point. I've learned more and I appreciate it.

  23. Keith Belton, May 2, 2021 at 7:47 p.m.

    to see another beautifully weighted pass through by another Chelsea player, watch Mason Mount just after 2:05 lay a beautiful pass between the wickets to Havertz.  

  24. Santiago 1314 replied, May 2, 2021 at 9:52 p.m.

    Bottom Line... Madrid was playing Too High Defensive Line... Chelsea was excellent at Exploiting it. I wonder what Madrid will do next Game to Counter.??? Can't wait for Wednesday.!!!

  25. frank schoon replied, May 3, 2021 at 11:05 a.m.

    Damn, Keith, that was a nice pass too...Love this stuff

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