American players have left an imprintful legacy in Serie A’s rich tapestry since Michael Bradley and Weston McKennie first graced its turf, yet Christian Pulisic stands out amongst them all as one to have lasting significance both on and off the pitch for Milan.
Michael Bradley earned himself the moniker “Captain America” during his time at Chievo and later AS Roma, quickly becoming synonymous with American football prowess in Italy. Celebrated for scoring key goals while sporting his signature hat-wearing style, Bradley quickly established himself as an icon of American football prowess there. By 2020, Weston McKennie had joined Juventus, giving American talent more chances; Oguchi Onyewu signed with Milan but later found himself embroiled in an infamous training ground dispute between Oguchi Onyewu and Zlatan Ibrahimovic which continued for several seasons after signing.
Recent years, however, have witnessed the tide turn as more American players make an impressionful mark in Serie A. Since 2010, ten Americans have played in Italy’s premier division; four reside at some of Italy’s premier clubs currently.
Pulisic’s move from Chelsea to Milan marked a decisive turning point. On his Serie A debut against Bologna, Pulisic scored an amazing goal that instantly won over Milan fans. Before then, however, his creative brilliance had already shown through by setting up Milan’s first goal of that game.
Milan’s home opener against Torino was nothing short of remarkable, with Pulisic scoring the opening goal to lead his team to an easy 4-1 victory. San Siro left an indelible mark on Pulisic; he even described it as the place for big games; although this particular encounter wasn’t one, 72,000 supporters passionately sang his name throughout.
Pulisic’s fast start has garnered enthusiasm in Italy. Gazzetta dello Sport even labeled him “CP – pure sweetness”, making an allusion to his hometown, Hershey, which is famous for chocolate production. Corriere dello Sport recently identified him as Milan’s top signing this summer due to their substantial investments in midfield and attack.
Pulisic’s impact extends well beyond the pitch. Serie A recognizes his value as an American player as they expand globally, drawing in new audiences through his talent. Furthermore, with five clubs now majority-owned by North American investors – it becomes ever more vital for growth of the league within America.
But make no mistake, Pulisic was not signed merely as a marketing tool. Milan’s manager, Stefano Pioli, sought a player with Pulisic’s attributes – a penetrating dribbler and an off-the-ball runner to diversify their attacking options. Milan’s need for balance and unpredictability led them to reshape their formation, with Pulisic operating on the right flank.
The synergy between Pulisic and Milan feels promising, a mutually beneficial partnership. Pulisic fills a position of need for the club while amplifying the Serie A brand in America. In return, Milan provides him with a grand stage, the iconic San Siro stadium, aptly nicknamed “La Scala del Calcio.”
While Pulisic is not the first Captain America to grace Serie A, his regular appearances in front of over 70,000 fans make this chapter in the American football odyssey truly remarkable. As the story unfolds, both Milan and Pulisic stand to reap the rewards of their timely union.