By Michael Lewis
Christian Pulisic, who seems to have a way of reaching milestones for U.S. soccer, did just that again Saturday.
The 22-year-old midfielder-forward not only became the first U.S. men’s national team player to play in a UEFA Champions League final and win a medal as well.
Chelsea, with Pulisic coming on as a second-half substitute, defeated English Premier League rival Manchester City, 1-0, to capture the most coveted prize in European soccer in Porto, Portugal.
Pulisic was not the first American in a UCL final. Neven Subotic, a U.S. youth international who played for the Serbia national team, started for Borussia Dortmund against Bayern Munich in the 2013 final.
Pulisic became the 13th player to win a cup or league title this season. USMNT teammate and goalkeeper Zack Steffen watched the game from the Manchester City bench.
CHRISTIAN PULISIC WITH A CHANCE TO DOUBLE CHELSEA'S LEAD 😱 pic.twitter.com/9RbDepUqXS
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) May 29, 2021
The Hershey, Pa. native began the match on the bench, but replaced Timo Werner with the Blues nursing a 1-0 lead on the strength of Kai Havetz’s 42nd-minute goal.
Pulisic came oh so close in giving Chelsea a two-goal advantage 73rd minute. After a long sprint down the right side, he sent an eight-yard shot just wide of the net. The USMNT standout latched onto a feed and beat defender Rúben Dias before goalkeeper Ederson Moraes came out to cut down the angle.
After seven minutes of stoppage time, Chelsea and Pulisic survived and they became European club champions.
When he heard the final whistle, Pulisic dropped to the ground as he raised his arms to the heavens. Then he buried his head on the turf.
— Mark Pulisic (@MarkPulisic) May 29, 2021
During postgame ceremonies, the USMNT player received a winners medal, touched the UCL trophy and then celebrated with his Chelsea teammates.
Pulisic won’t have much time to bask in the glory as he will join his USA teammates for the Concacaf Nations League Final Four. The USMNT will meet Honduras in Denver, Colo. Thursday.