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Dropped Pulisic must seize opportunity when it comes as USMNT stars battle for playing time

20:00 EAT 23/09/2019
Christian Pulisic Chelsea
The attacker has not gotten off the bench in Chelsea’s last three matches and will need to take his chance when he sees action again

Arguably the biggest story at the moment is not which Americans are featuring abroad, but the one who is not.

Chelsea lost their second straight contest on Sunday, falling at home to Liverpool 2-1. And for the third straight game, Christian Pulisic did not make his way off the bench for the Blues.

Pulisic arrived at Stamford Bridge with plenty of hype, not only as the most expensive American transfer ever, but also as just a pricey $73 million buy in general. Players with that price tag are expected to produce right away, even if the reality is not as clear-cut.

Not making things easier for Pulisic is Mason Mount succeeding at his first real opportunity, but he has also enjoyed less success than Willian thus far. And things will not get easier with Callum Hudson-Odoi set to return from injury.

Pulisic had one standout game for Chelsea, the UEFA Super Cup, and has been forgettable since. Adjusting to a new team and new league is not easy, but the competition for places is fierce at Chelsea and it is hard to argue Pulisic's place on the bench is not deserved.

"I have a squad to pick from, he played before that in a few games," Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said of Pulisic after the Liverpool defeat.

"Willian has come back and looked sharp and good. I decided to go with Mason today. We needed to stay strong and play Mason high up the pitch. That's my choices to make.

“[Pulisic] will get ample opportunities. He is a young player as well. Everyone talks about Mason, Tammy [Abraham] and Fikayo [Tomori] but he is young and younger than some of them so his chances will come."

There’s no reason to believe it is just coach-speak. Chelsea have a packed schedule with squad rotation required, and Pulisic, barring injury, will get chances to prove his worth. It would not be surprising to see an opportunity come in the Carabao Cup against League Two side Grimsby Town on Wednesday.

Pulisic will need to seize that chance, however, especially against lower league opposition. History shows price tag alone does not buy you a place long term at Chelsea - ask Michy Batshuayi, Mohamed Salah, or Tiemoue Bakayoko, just to name a few.

Meanwhile, in the Bundesliga, injury is the culprit as to why a trio of Americans are not seeing action. Fabian Johnson’s troublesome back issues have returned, sidelining him for Borussia Monchengladbach’s last three games. Elsewhere, Alfredo Morales for Fortuna Dusseldorf has not returned to action since departing the USMNT with injury whileTyler Adams remains sidelined for RB Leipzig.

And for those who did play, the weekend could have gone better. Weston McKennie was at least involved in a win, as Schalke defeated Mainz 2-1 on Friday. McKennie started but didn’t have a great performance, exiting the contest after 76 minutes.

Josh Sargent was also handed the start, facing a tough task alongside his Werder Bremen team-mates against league leading RB Leipzig. Sargent’s statline was not impressive, though neither was any part of Werder’s attack, and he exited after 80 minutes in a 3-0 defeat.

Sargent arguably created the best opportunity for himself, bursting forward with pace into the box, but was unable to get a clean shot away and went to the turf, with little argument for a penalty.

Zack Steffen made a highlight-worthy double save in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s match with Gladbach en route to nine in the contest. But Gladbach managed two second-half goals to come away with the victory.

Timothy Chandler came off the bench midweek against Arsenal and again Sunday against Borussia Dortmund, with the latter ending in a 2-2 draw for Eintracht Frankfurt.

It was not much better in the German second division. Julian Green went the distance for Greuther Furth in a 2-0 loss to his former club Stuttgart while Bobby Wood had a nine minute cameo for Hamburg in a 4-0 win over Erzgebirge, and remains without a start in the 2.Bundesliga this year.

But he is playing, which is more than be said for Sebastian Soto at the moment, who did not make Hannover’s squad for their 2-1 over Holstein on Friday.

In fact, the brightest spot for an American in Europe is not a player – but a head coach.

Jesse Marsch earned the first victory for an American head coach in the Champions League on Tuesday, when his Red Bull Salzburg side beat up on Genk 6-2 in their group stage opener.

Things did not go as well in the Austrian Bundesliga on Sunday, as Salzburg only came away with a 2-2 draw against LASK. That said, it was only their first dropped points of the year and they sit four points clear in the league after eight games, with an outstanding +28 goal differential.

In the Eredivisie, Sergino Dest went 90 minutes in a 1-1 Ajax draw with title rivals PSV. He was not the only American to see action in the Dutch top-flight, as Haji Wright came off the bench for VVV-Venlo in a 1-0 loss to Willem II.

The English Championship saw every American who featured grab a result. There were victories for Antonee Robinson at Wigan, Geoff Cameron at QPR, and Eric Lichaj at Hull. All three went the distance in their club’s respective victories.

Tim Ream and Fulham drew with Sheffield Wednesday 1-1, while Duane Holmes started and went 90 in a Derby County draw with Leeds United. Cameron Carter-Vickers contributed to a clean sheet for Stoke, though the Potters could not find a goal in a scoreless draw with Brentford.