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Christian Pulisic Watch: How did USMNT star fare in rare Cheslea start?

Conor Gallagher's deflected shot loops over the dive of Robert Sanchez to give Chelsea the breakthrough against Brighton.

A rare start for Christian Pulisic is an occasion to watch struggling Chelsea even closer.

The USMNT winger started in a wildly-changed Blues unit against Brighton, as Chelsea has a Premier League match sandwiched between UEFA Champions League quarterfinal legs versus Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

But his day was short, as were the days of Enzo Fernandez and Raheem Sterling. The trio subbed out of a 1-1 game at Stamford Bridge, and that means one of two things for the American.

  1. He, like Fernandez and maybe Sterling, has a role in the unlikely comeback bid against Real in a few days.
  2. He’s only getting 55 minutes in a game that Frank Lampard all-but mailed-in prior to its kickoff.

Anyway, here’s how the day went for Pulisic as his attacking mates and him barely saw the ball due to Brighton’s masterclass.

“Thanks goodness for deflections,” said Chelsea.

8th minute: Pulisic’s first touch sees him try to hold up the ball for an overlapping run but he’s tackled well and hits the deck -- no call -- as Brighton goes the other way.

19th minute: Pulisic Watch has been basically been a lot of Pulisic watching, too. He’s had the one touch and a lost aerial duel, but he has now seen Mykhailo Mudryk drive into the Brighton defense to set up a deflected goal for Conor Gallagher. Not much more to report. It’s all going on on the other sides of the pitch: Chelsea’s half and, often, the left side.

23rd minute: Here we go from the American. Moments after drawing a foul, played to advantage, to get the ball out of Chelsea’s end, Pulisic dinks the ball over a defender before sending a wayward chipped cross well over the mob of players in the 18.

Stoppage time: Out of nothing -- literally, the front three have under 40 touches for the half -- it’s a diving near-post header off said near post for Pulisic. This will go to the break at 1-1 following a Danny Welbeck equalizer earlier in the half.

Pulisic’s halftime stat line: 13 touches, 5-of-5 passes, 2-of-2 completed dribbles, one foul drawn, 3-of-5 duels won, one shot.

56th minute: That’s it for Pulisic. The USMNT leaves the pitch along with Enzo Fernandez, Wesley Fofana, and Raheem Sterling after the Blues were dominated again in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Pulisic’s full-time stat line: 18 touches, 6-of-7 passes, 2-of-2 completed dribbles, one foul drawn, 3-of-5 duels won, one shot.

Analysis: What a waste, and not by the USMNT man. We could judge this even more harshly come 5-6pm ET on Tuesday. Why? If Pulisic’s not starting or the first sub off the bench against Real Madrid, then how can anyone justify his being lifted from this game as part of what was essentially a quadruple sub. Either way, there will be a new boss in Chelsea blue this summer and Pulisic may want to leave almost regardless of that person’s identity.

Follow @NicholasMendola