USMNT star Christian Pulisic insists Lionel Messi’s performances with Inter Miami ‘absolutely helps’ promote MLS worldwide
US star winger Christian Pulisic has insisted that Lionel Messi’s impressive form with Inter Miami ‘absolutely helps’ push MLS forward.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a friendly match between the US and Uzbekistan on Saturday, Pulisic added that he has enjoyed watching the massive impact that the 2022 World Cup winner is having on American soccer, as Messi’s registered 11 goals in 11 league and cup games since signing with Miami in July.
‘It absolutely helps. I mean obviously all the game that [Messi’s] playing in MLS and these cups become massive games,’ he said.
‘It seems like everyone’s there. It’s exciting, it’s fun.
‘Obviously only a positive thing for this country, so I’m enjoying watching and following that Miami path. Obviously, some of our American teammates are there who’ve been playing really well, so it’s fun to see how Messi has come in and help lift the level so much of that team as well.’
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi is helping MLS for the better, says US winger Christian Pulisic
Pulisic, 24, is in line to start Saturday’s game against Uzbekistan (seen in practice on Thursday)
Pulisic, who last week took a dig at star-studded MLS crowds that only turn out to watch Messi, is experiencing somewhat of a revival at his new club, AC Milan, where he’s scored two goals in his first three Serie A games.
Last season, while still playing for Chelsea, Pulisic only scored once in 24 matches across all competitions.
‘Definitely it was the right time for me [to move] and I’m loving it right now,’ he said. ‘I’m definitely enjoying the game, obviously put in some good performances and just have to keep it going. I’m really excited for the future there.’
Pulisic appears to have rediscovered his best form under Milan manager Stefano Pioli, who he appears to have immediately won over since joining the Rossoneris in the summer.
‘I mean, yeah, it’s a big change as a player when you feel the trust from your coaches and you feel the confidence and trust from your teammates,’ he said. ‘It’s a good feeling and that’s how it is right now.’
Pulisic has scored twice in three games since joining AC Milan from Chelsea over the summer
US coach Gregg Berhalter considers Pulisic as a player with experience among his young stars
US head coach Gregg Berhalter, who usually doesn’t reveal his lineup ahead of competitive matches, said the Star and Stripes will start with goalkeeper Matt Turner, right back Sergiño Dest, central defenders Tim Ream and Chris Richards, left back Antonee Robinson, Luca de la Torre or Tanner Tessman in defensive midfield, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah in attacking midfield, Tim Weah and Pulisic on the flanks and Folarin Balogun up front.
Tessmen will start if he overcomes a calf injury Berhalter termed minor. Ricardo Pepi will replace Balogun at the start of the second half.
After going to Qatar with the second-youngest team in the tournament, the U.S. remains a youthful group.
‘We played seven-a-side today and we had old versus medium versus young. And the old team is Christian, Weston, Antonee. Robinson, Sergiño,’ Berhalter said.
‘They don’t know how time flies, they still think they’re one of the younger guys on the team and they’re not, they’re senior players, so they were really surprised. And I think they didn’t take it too well.’