Pulisic: Messi’s Miami impact huge for MLS, soccer in USA

Jeff Carlisle, U.S. soccer correspondentSep 8, 2023, 04:29 PM ET

CloseJeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.

ST. LOUIS — U.S. men’s national team attacker Christian Pulisic says Lionel Messi’s performance with Inter Miami “absolutely helps” push MLS forward.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s game between the U.S. and Uzbekistan, Pulisic added he has enjoyed watching the impact the Argentine World Cup winner is having on American soccer, not the least of which are his 11 goals in 11 league and cup games.

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“It absolutely helps. I mean obviously all the games 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.”

Lionel Messi has made an eye-catching start to his time at Inter Miami. Will Navarro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pulisic is enjoying a productive moment of his own with new club AC Milan, where he’s scored two goals in his first three Serie A games. This after struggling for much of his last season with Chelsea.

“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.”

More importantly, Pulisic appears to have the trust of Milan manager Stefano Pioli.

“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.”

The current camp is the first that U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter has spent with the team since the 2022 World Cup.

Berhalter’s contract expired at the end of 2022 amid a U.S. Soccer investigation into a 1992 domestic violence incident involving him and his now-wife Rosalind that was brought to light by the family of midfielder Gio Reyna.

For the next six months, the U.S. was managed on an interim basis by Anthony Hudson and later current USMNT assistant B.J. Callaghan, who led the USMNT to victory at the 2023 Concacaf Nations League. After conducting a search for the next U.S. manager, U.S. Soccer settled on Berhalter in June.

“I think we just pick up where we left off,” said Pulisic. “Now that he’s here, it’s not a big change for us. We weren’t doing anything crazy different when he wasn’t here and it’s just to pick right back up where we left off and to keep pushing and improving every day trying to get ready for these big tournaments coming up.”


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