Christian Pulisic was the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year.
And the sun also rises.
For the third time in five years, the U.S. men’s national team standout was voted the honor. And, he was not able to play fulltime due to injuries during World Cup qualifying. The midfielder-forward also won the award in 2017 and 2019.
Still, you could not underestimate the 23-year-old’s impact for club and country as he became the first USMNT player to win the UEFA Champions League. Several weeks later, he helped the Americans capture the first Concacaf Nations Cup.
“I think it’s a big accomplishment,” Pulisic said after winning the Champions League. “Obviously I’m really happy with what we accomplished at a club level this season. Now it’s time to move on, big game against Honduras. We’re going to fight for everything at the end I want to lift another trophy at the end of the season. So we have a great opportunity to do that and I’m going to give everything I have.”
Pulisic overcame injuries to score important goals for club and country.
In fact, Pulisic scored “only” three goals for the Red, White and Blue, but all were game-winning tallies.
During the Nations League final, he converted a 114th-minute penalty kick to give the USA a 3-2 lead in Denver. During a World Cup qualifier in November, Pulisic came off the bench and scored on his first touch when he headed home Tim Weah’s cross to open the scoring in the USMNT’s 2-0 (dos a cero) WCQ over El Trí in Cincinnati. He captained the USA a career-high four times, including the Nations League Final and two World Cup qualifiers in September.
The Hershey, Pa. native became first USMNT player to feature in and win the Champions League when Chelsea recorded a 1-0 win over English Premier League rival Manchester City in Porto on May 29.
“I’m just so proud. I’m so proud to be here,” Pulisic said the same day. “It’s been a difficult road for me, and I couldn’t imagine winning the Champions League ever in my life and then now I’m here. So, it’s just crazy.”
Pulisic played a major role in helping the Blues reach the final, scoring the opening goal in the first leg of the semifinals, a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid. He also registered the second multi-goal game of his EPL career, bagging a brace in Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace on April 10.
The USMNT star made 40 appearances across all competitions for Chelsea, recording six goals and four assists, while also helping the club to a runner-up finish in the English FA Cup and a top-four finish in the EPL.
If case you were wondering, Pulisic he became the fourth player to win Male Player of the Year three times or more, since the award was initiated in 1984. He joinied Clint Dempsey (2007, 2011, 2012), Landon Donovan (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010) and Kasey Keller (1997, 1999, 2005). At 23, Pulisic also was the youngest three-time winner of the award. Not surprisingly, he also took home U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year honors in 2016.
Pulisic’s next challenge?
Help the USA qualify for the 2022 World Cup.