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Explaining Christian Pulisic’s Unfortunate Injury History

The USMNT star limped off in the first half of Chelsea’s clash against Man City, adding to his ballooning list of injuries. 

By Andrew Woodin
Christian Pulisic Leaving the Field During a Premiere League Match

As the legendary NFL coach Bill Parcels once said, “The best ability is availability,” and unfortunately, those astute words have become a haunting omen for the Chelsea and USMNT star Christian Pulisic.

It’s been just a few short weeks since Captain America sustained a painful pelvic injury in 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar while scoring a heroic goal to the USMNT topple Iran to advance out of the group stage and now, the Hershey, Pennsylvania native is grappling with, yet again, another traumatic blow to his health. Pulisic’s latest injury transpired just 16 minutes into Chelsea’s Premier League match against Manchester City while the Blues were on the counter. Marc Cucurella had just secured the ball in City territory off a turnover before slipping a pass to Kai Havertz just outside the top of the box. Havertz collected the ball and poked it through two defenders as Pulisic made a brilliant run to the goal, but John Stones executed a sensational sliding tackle with his leading left foot to disrupt Pulisic’s shot and send him into a tumble. It appears that he sustained his injury on Stones’ follow through as the defender made contact with Pulisic’s knee.

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As was the case with Pulisic’s World Cup injury, the Chelsea standout has a historical knack of just finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, partly due to his size and partly due to his aggressive and fearless style of play. Dating back to his tenure with Borussia Dortmund, since 2016, according to Transfermarkt, the 24-year-old has missed 63 games between the two clubs with either injury or illness, amounting to a total of 467 lost days on the pitch.

Pulisic’s first season at Stamford Bridge was a particularly rough year for him health-wise with painful muscle contusions, a groin injury and an agonizing tear in his abductor muscle he endured on New Year’s Day that sidelined him extensively – the latter alone kept him off the pitch for a tormenting 156 days in that 2019-2020 season. During his recovery for his abductor issue, then manager at the time Frank Lampard revealed that Pulisic suffered a setback in his return to form.

And after rebounding from that injury, it only took Pulisic a handful of weeks before a lingering calf injury devolved into a much more serious calf strain, rendering him out of playing contention for three weeks. Then, just a mere five weeks later, he suffered another grueling setback, but this time, it came in the form of a freak hamstring injury he suffered in the warm-up prior to Chelsea thrashing Burnley 3-0.

His next worse injury cropped up in October of 2021. In a road match with the USMNT facing Honduras, the ever-dauntless winger endured a brutal ankle injury on a rough tackle. As setback after setback continued to mount, Pulisic was unable to generate the quick, sharp spurts of movement that make him a dangerous threat to defenses, and thus, he was relegated to the bench for 52 days.

The problem for injury-prone athletes like Pulisic is, that besides missing pivotal matches and building synergy with teammates, a pattern of frustration can develop between the player and the coach, correlating into a loss of playing time, or worse, being transferred. For Graham Potter’s struggling Chelsea side, we can only hope that Pulisic is able to recover and return to the pitch before it’s too late.

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