Christian Pulisic wants more pressure put on his United States teammates as the national team looks to begin a new era under coach Gregg Berhalter.
Last week, the 20-year-old midfielder signed with Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for EUR64 million (GBP57.6m, $73.1m), in what was a record deal for an American player. But Pulisic doesn’t believe the lofty price tag — and bigger spotlight — will increase the pressure on him to perform for the national team.
“I don’t think so, I don’t think so,” Pulisic told ESPN FC’s Raphael Honigstein on Sunday. “I think we can put some more of the pressure on some of these other guys now. I understand my role now in the national team, I have to show these guys the way, I’ve been around for a while.
“Crazy to think I’m one of the more experienced guys in the national team, when I was in the last few camps, but yeah, that’s what I have to be now.”
After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. played for a year under the guidance of interim coach Dave Sarachan, with mixed results. But now Berhalter has taken charge as attention turns to the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
“I think the team is looking a lot better. Obviously now we have a good head coach in place and I’m excited to see what he brings to the table, and obviously I think we have a lot of talent coming up,” said Pulisic, when asked his thoughts on the U.S. team.
“I mean we see it across the Bundesliga, you know, across different leagues in the world, and I think Americans should be excited and I’m definitely thrilled just to see what our next step is.”
Though he doesn’t know Berhalter well, he’s encouraged by the product the former Columbus Crew manager has traditionally put on the field.
“I was able to meet him once. I don’t know him too well. I followed his team a bit in MLS, but other than that I don’t know him super well. But I’ve seen his system and I’ve seen that he likes to play, so I’m excited,” Pulisic said.
Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are two players expected to help lead the U.S. in the next World Cup cycle, having also followed the path from the U.S. to Germany. Pulisic acknowledged that his success at Dortmund has helped pave the way for others.
“I don’t know, I guess you could say that, you know, maybe I was one of the first ones, but I’m glad these guys are doing similar things and they can see I was able to come here and I was able to make it, and for them to come and do the same thing,” he said. “I’m really happy to see them and we have a great relationship, so that we can help each other out.”
And he encouraged others to take the same steps in the future.
“Yeah, definitely. I mean it just made me so much stronger, not only as a player, but as a person too,” he said about moving to play in Europe. “I learned so much, you know. Nothing was easy, to come over in Europe and to make this step. I’m really happy that I did it.”