Pulisic feels pressure to 'save' USMNT, live up to 'Captain America' tag
Christian Pulisic has admitted he feels pressure to "save" the United States men's national team and meet the high standards that others have set for him in his homeland.
The Chelsea winger, who earned the nickname "Captain America" when he established himself in Borussia Dortmund's first team as a teenager, confessed to trying too hard to impress during his country's recent World Cup qualifiers because of the expectations that accompany his international appearances.
"Sometimes it is tough," Pulisic said, according to ESPN's James Olley. "I still haven't completely learned. Especially going back to the U.S., sometimes I put too much pressure on myself that I need to do something special where I just need to play the best I can, do what I can do, and hopefully people recognize that."
Before Pulisic struggled to make an impression in qualifiers against El Salvador and Canada, the 23-year-old said he was excited to "step away" with the USMNT following a "tough" period with Chelsea. But he didn't experience much relief from his difficulties in England as a 2-0 defeat to Canada on Jan. 30 put the United States' bid to reach Qatar 2022 in danger of unraveling.
However, those fears almost evaporated entirely when the USMNT subsequently beat Honduras 3-0 in Minnesota, giving the team a four-point cushion in the qualification places with three matches remaining. Pulisic was called off the bench during the second half of Honduras' visit and scored his side's third goal.
"For example, in the last national team games, the first couple I'm going into it thinking, 'I need to overperform and do something to save the team,'" Pulisic continued, "but there's no need for that because we have a very strong team.
"I think, at times, I was overthinking it and (trying) to be too good in a way that's not necessary. I don't need to, whatever, overcomplicate things."
Pulisic is realizing he doesn't always need to justify the "Captain America" tag.
"It has been a lot (to live up to)," he admitted. "Especially in the U.S., I think I do have pretty high standards that people set for me, and it can be tough at times."