Soccer

The 2 Robbies podcast: Debating Christian Pulisic's first year at Chelsea

The 2 Robbies podcast: Debating Christian Pulisic's first year at Chelsea

American soccer star Christian Pulisic had his season paused well before the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to English Premier League games last month.  

The Chelsea forward showed flashes of promise in his first season in England. But there remains room to grow for the 21-year-old, according to NBC studio analyst Robbie Mustoe.  

“We have to see more and we have to see consistency for him to stay a really important part of what [Chelsea coach] Frank Lampard wants to do,” Mustoe said on the latest episode of The 2 Robbies podcast alongside Robbie Earle.  

Mustoe and Earle broke down two more teams in their State of the Premier League series. Pulisic and Chelsea were on the docket this week along with Leicester City. 

Chelsea fielded a young squad in 2019-20. Expectations were “not quite as highly strung and as pressured to win titles quickly before [owner Roman] Abramovich goes ‘Right, next guy in,’” according to Mustoe.  

The Blues embarked on a new era at Stamford Bridge, but were hampered by a transfer ban that – for now – changes the calculus for Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who hired club-legend Lampard  despite just one year of managing experience at Derby County one level down in the English Championship league.  

Patience isn’t usually in abundance at a big club like Chelsea, but will be necessary. For Earle, patience is good but the former Premier League striker has been “hugely impressed with [Lampard]” in the early stages of his managerial career at Chelsea. 

Meanwhile, Leicester City continues to chug along competing with the biggest clubs in England four years after stunning the world with its EPL championship after beginning the 2015-16 season as a 5,000-1 shot.  

The Foxes finished 12th in 2016-17 and ninth the past two seasons. But instead of fading, they again pushed for a spot in the Champions League for next season. The two Robbies discussed whether a smaller club like Leicester City can continue to compete at this level.  

Earle was strong in his belief that Leicester “might be here to stay in this Top 6” based on their manager, Brendan Rodgers, and what he has been able to accomplish this season with a largely youth-based squad. Mustoe cautioned that optimism some because bigger clubs across Europe are sure to come after those young, home-grown players.  

“If they can keep some of their better young players - that’s such a big if trying to persuade them that they shouldn’t aspire or think about moves to some of the big boys in England,” Mustoe said.  

If they do, the Foxes could be good for quite a while. As for another Premier League club trying to push its way back toward the Top 6, the 2 Robbies touched on the continuing news surrounding Newcastle’s potential new ownership group.  

For Earle, if the proposed Saudi-backed ownership group takes over it could be a game changer for a club with plenty of history – six FA Cups, a league championship as recently as 1993 and 87 years in the top flight – but has been relegated twice in the past decade and has finished in the Top Six just once in the past 13 EPL seasons. Newcastle as 13th when play was stopped this year.   

“Give [manager] Rafa Benitez money, give him some time, he can make this a Top 6 team,” Earle said. “There’s some bridges to be built in Newcastle Football Club [but] if this football club can get focus back on football, then it can have a bright future.” 

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Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

Washington DC launches bid to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches

It’s still six years out, but Washington, D.C. is making a push to bring the 2026 FIFA World Cup to the nation’s capital.

With North America selected as the location of choice for the 2026 World Cup rather than one country in particular, D.C. officials announced Tuesday their intention to make Washington one of the 16 host cities for the 80-match tournament.

“Right now, as countries around the world continue to respond to this pandemic, the 2026 FIFA World Cup is something we can all look forward to,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. “And when the tournament comes to North America, it only makes sense for DC — the Sports Capital and District of Champions — to host. We are already a city united by the game, and in 2026, we look forward to uniting the world.”

According to The Washington Post, 10 cities from the U.S. are expected to land matches for the tournament with Canada and Mexico splitting the other six. It will be the first time in World Cup history that the tournament will be shared by more than two countries.

The District established a group called DC2026, which announced a 40-member advisory board that includes D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, three-time MLS champion Eddie Pope, Washington Spirit stars Joanna Lohman and Andi Sullivan, two-time gold medalist Brianna Scurry, EventsDC chairman Max Brown, chef José Andrés and D.C. United general partner Gregory O’Dell.

“As a native Washingtonian, I am proud to be a Co-Chair of DC’s official bid committee to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” Hamid said in a statement. “I could not think of a more vibrant, inclusive or passionate soccer city to host FIFA World Cup matches in 2026. With our deep soccer roots and diversity, the culture of our city gives us our foundation to successfully highlight the matches and leave a lasting impact on the future of the game.”

DC2026 plans to tout D.C.’s “unparalleled roots to the sport of soccer and world-class hosting capabilities” as part of its pitch. In a three-page press release, the group laid out advantages such as the metro system and three local airports that would allow it to host the increased number of tourists.

The city last hosted the World Cup in 1994, when it made RFK Stadium one of nine U.S. venues for the tournament. It’s also held Olympic soccer games (1996) as well as the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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WATCH: American Christian Pulisic nets second goal for Chelsea in as many games

WATCH: American Christian Pulisic nets second goal for Chelsea in as many games

The Premier League restart has gone as good as possible for Christian Pulisic.

The United States National Team star netted his second goal in as many games for Chelsea on Thursday, giving the Blues a 1-0 lead over Manchester City shortly before halftime.

Pulisic gained possession of the ball off of a poor City turnover, and suddenly, he was one-on-one with defender Benjamin Mendy. The American winger used a brilliant hesitation move to dribble past Mendy before curling his shot past keeper Ederson for the goal.

Pulisic's goal comes on the heels of his solid outing on Sunday, where he scored Chelsea's first goal in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Thursday's finish was Pulisic's eighth goal in 25 appearances since arriving at Chelsea from German side Borussia Dortmund this past summer.

Pulisic had previously been sidelined since January 1 with an adductor injury but was close to returning before the season was paused in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Premier League's resumption gives the American star a chance to rewrite the narrative on an otherwise incomplete first season with the Blues.

Besides Chelsea supporters, no one is happier about Pulisic's goal than Liverpool fans. Should Chelsea win or draw, Liverpool will clinch their first-ever Premier League title (and first league title in 30 years).

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