When will Pulisic catch a break? Untimely injury and Felix's Chelsea arrival leave USMNT ace facing uncertain future
Just as things were starting to look up...
For the first time in seemingly forever, Christian Pulisic was playing meaningful minutes with Chelsea.
After returning from the World Cup break with a bit of momentum, the U.S. men's national team star was in Graham Potter's starting XI and rediscovering the confidence that has been lacking for significant stretches of his time at Stamford Bridge.
And then came the bad luck, as it so often has for Pulisic in recent years. Even his World Cup goal, his dream moment, was dampened a bit by a collision that left him lying in agony. Even when things go right for Pulisic, it seems like things tend to go wrong shortly after.
And now, one untimely injury, one massive signing and, suddenly, everything is all so uncertain again just as Pulisic's Chelsea career was seemingly moving in the right direction.
Potter confirmed on Wednesday the recent knee injury Pulisic suffered against Manchester City will see him miss "a couple of months", dealing the American yet another blow in what has felt like an endless onslaught.
Every time Pulisic starts building a bit of momentum on the club level, things tend to go sideways, often due to injury.
In 2020, it was the abductor injury that saw him miss 12 games and, later, a hamstring issue that robbed him of seven more.
In 2021, it was an ankle injury that saw him miss 12 games once again. And now, at the start of 2023, Pulisic is on the shelf due to another poorly-timed injury issue.
That's bad news for Pulisic, who will have to start all over again when he does eventually return.
Christian Pulisic really gave everything to score for USA against Iran 👊 pic.twitter.com/ZMrK9DaQVf— GOAL (@goal) November 29, 2022
It's bad news for Chelsea, who need all hands on deck as they try to battle their way out of 10th in the Premier League.
And it's bad news for the USMNT, who could now be without Pulisic for the return of the Nations League in March.
The Nations League isn't really a priority, of course, but, for a USMNT team that finds itself in crisis right now, Pulisic's presence would be a major lift.
All of that is bad enough, but, as usual with Chelsea, the situation has become even more complicated.
As Chelsea so often do, especially under Todd Boehly's ownership, the club has already gone into the transfer market to bring in another star for the attack.
Joao Felix is the club's latest reinforcement, with the Atletico Madrid man coming in to provide a bit of a lift to the Blues' attacking unit.
He's only in until the end of the season, at least to start, and, although Felix and Pulisic are very different players, the American will now face even more competition when he does eventually return.
Felix joins a group that already includes the likes of Pulisic, Raheem Sterling, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and another new signing in David Datro Fofana.
That's seven players for three spots, with rumors of another, Christopher Nkunku, perhaps on the way if reports are to be believed.
Some of the names listed above may leave in January, but most won't. The Chelsea that Pulisic does return to will be one with an insane amount of competition in the attack.
It may also be a team in desperation mode, depending on how results go over the next few weeks. Throwing a recovering player into the starting XI isn't usually a recipe for success for a side scrapping for points.
That all leaves Pulisic with an uncertain future, and it's not like it was looking particularly clear before all of this.
For the better part of the last year, he has been linked with a move away from Chelsea and to a club that would be able to offer him a bigger role.
Now, as the January window comes and goes, it's hard to project what Pulisic's 2023 will look like.
It's hard to predict what kind of Chelsea team he'll return to and how that Chelsea team will use him going forward.
It's hard to predict if Chelsea will even be his team going forward, as the transfer rumors will no doubt roll on through the summer.
For the last few weeks, it looked like that was all coming to an end, that Pulisic may finally stake his claim and secure the role he's coveted for so long.
But here he is again, a victim of bad luck with everything up in the air once again.