Happy international break Chelsea FC supporters. The club may be off until Oct 1, when they’ll stage a London derby at Crystal Palace, but there are no shortage of news items to discuss. So much so that we had to break this up into two different Chelsea news and notes columns. Part one, covering the team’s fitness concerns of Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante is at this link.
Christian Pulisic was baffled why he didn’t play in the second leg of the 2021 Champions League game against Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/mCh2y7u0JX
— Frank Khalid (@FrankKhalidUK) September 20, 2022
Former Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel didn’t rate Pulisic, and that was simply not going to change. Pulisic wasn’t going to get real opportunities while the German was in charge. Why? Well, there are two sides to every story (three actually, as the truth is almost always somewhere in between the two sides), and the 22-year-old face of the USMNT is telling his:
What happened before that game was hugely disappointing for me. l’d had a really good first leg performance and our following match was against Fulham in the league. Tuchel told me that he was resting me for the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a single minute in the Fulham game. Then on match day of the second semi, Tuchel tells me he’s changed his mind and he’s going with Kai [Havertz]. I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed. I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start. So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.
It’s easy to understand why Pulisic was so frustrated, and the best thing for him, at Chelsea, is the fresh start he’ll get under the new manager.
Moving on to Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina, the 18-year-old Chicago Fire goalkeeper (at least until January 1, when he’ll officially become a Chelsea player) was named to the MLSsoccer.com 22 Under 22 list.
According to the official press release, voters were asked to rank their Top-22 players in order based on technical, tactical, physical, and potential abilities. The Addison, IL native came in fourth. As the MLS season winds down, we can reflect on all that Slonina, the most expensive player sale in Fire history, has accomplished.
Slonina has started all 32 regular season matches and logged 2880 minutes. He’s notched 12 clean sheets, ranking him third in the league.
Slonina originally joined the Fire youth system at age 10, before signing a professional contract with the senior team on March 8, 2019. At just 14, Slonina became the second-youngest signing in MLS history behind Freddy Adu and the youngest Homegrown signing in League history.
Want to know more about him?
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.