Christian Pulisic is the leading light of a sparking generation of U.S. men’s national team stars and his ability is such that he is able to play across a variety of positions.
Versatility can sometimes be a curse in football, particularly to talented players, but Pulisic is happy to carry out whatever role he is assigned in order to help the team.
So which position is Pulisic’s best? GOAL takes a look at what role gets the most out of the Chelsea attacker.
What position does Christian Pulisic play?
Pulisic is a forward capable of playing on the right wing and the left wing, as well as in a central position, such as striker, ‘false nine’ or Number 10.
During the 2021-22 season, Pulisic was also deployed in the right wing-back position by Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, which demonstrates that he also possesses the defensive attributes required of such a role.
What is Christian Pulisic’s best position?
Pulisic made his name as a dynamic winger and, as such, it is widely accepted as his ‘natural position’. With abundant pace, agility, technical ability and keen attacking instincts, Pulisic’s attributes are considered ideal for a winger.
As GOAL’s Chelsea correspondent Nizaar Kinsella explains: “Undoubtedly, Christian Pulisic’s best position is on the left wing. The USMNT captain likes to have the ball at his feet, likes having the opportunity to dribble and score goals.
“He does so as an inverted winger, cutting inside or getting on the end of crosses that come in from the right. His movement off the ball is one of his greater strengths, often surpassing his crossing delivery or ability to shoot with power.”
Pulisic himself has revealed that he is “most comfortable on the wings”, though he has acknowledged that he is also happy to play in any forward role in a “free-flowing, attacking system”.
“I think I can be very effective on either of the wings,” Pulisic said in a 2019 interview with the official Chelsea website, adding: “Really, any of the attacking positions I can be comfortable in. I was most comfortable on the wings at Dortmund.”
Since joining Chelsea, the Pennsylvania native has been used in a wider spectrum of roles. However, he revealed in a 2020 interview with BT Sport that left wing or the Number 10 role, just behind the striker, were his favourite positions.
‘Captain America’ has played as a Number 10 for the USMNT, but his best position for the national team is also on the wing, according to GOAL’s U.S. soccer expert Ryan Tolmich.
“When played centrally, Pulisic tends to struggle when compared to when deployed out wide,” says Tolmich. “He doesn’t have the same space to beat people off the dribble and he occasionally goes into ‘hero mode’, where he starts trying to do everything before getting fouled or giving the ball away.
“Even with the USMNT’s wealth of wingers, including Gio Reyna, Tim Weah, Brenden Aaronson and Paul Arriole, Pulisic’s best spot remains out wide. It’s also the best spot for him in the team’s current system, with Gregg Berhalter preferring a 4-3-3 with two roaming midfielders ahead of a No. 6.”
Pulisic has also played in the false nine position – a centre-forward who drops deep into midfield – for Chelsea, but, while he is happy to carry out the role, it certainly doesn’t elicit the same enthusiasm from him as playing on the wing or Number 10 does.
“He is capable of playing in a false nine or central striking role, but it allows him few opportunities to dribble,” says Kinsella. “Often when asked about the role, Pulisic is reluctant to celebrate his abilities in it, despite doing his job to help the team.”
When Tuchel played Pulisic as a wing-back, the German made the point that the new role allowed the American to get more time on the pitch.
“You can always argue I would have been more consistent or better if I had one clear position,” reasoned Tuchel. “But maybe then you have less minutes or you face even more competition, because up front we have two or three players in every position.”
However, it is clearly not Pulisic’s best position, with former Chelsea right-back Glen Johnson arguing that the former Dortmund player “hasn’t got a defensive bone in his body!” Johnson, too, considers the wing as the USMNT star’s best position.
“Pulisic works his socks off, I know the lads like him in training and around the place, so he’s a good lad,” the ex-England international told GOAL. “He’s someone that is willing to work hard and play out of position, but I think to get the best out of him he is definitely better out wide on the left.”