“The first guy through the wall — he always gets bloody. Always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds, it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods. It’s threatening their jobs. It’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reins — have their hands on the switch — they go crazy.”
— John Henry, “Moneyball”
DATELINE: Tuesday, June 10, 2025.
LOCATION: The Edge 100th floor observation deck, 30 Hudson Yards, Manhattan.
TIME: Noon ET.
NEW YORK (HRB) — “Captain America” is coming home.
New York City FC announced that Christian Pulisic, the 26-year-old captain of the U.S. Men’s National Team, will return to the United States for an extended run in Major League Soccer, signing a 30-month contract on Tuesday with the City Football Group club after NYCFC paid a $15 million transfer fee to AC Milan to acquire him.
Frustrated with a lack of playing time at the Italian powerhouse, Pulisic’s move to MLS sent shockwaves through the American soccer community, astounded to see the native of Hershey, PA in the prime of his soccer career shun European football to become the new symbolic face of stateside league, just as the 2026 FIFA World Cup looms on the horizon in the US next year.
Pulisic, whose career had stops at Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and AC Milan, is the first top USMNT player to join MLS since Clint Dempsey left Tottenham Hotspur in England in 2013.
But Pulisic’s NYCFC wages, rumored to be $9 million per season as a NYCFC Designated Player, plus endorsements and a share of Apple TV MLS Season Pass revenue, will far exceed Dempsey’s estimated $6.6 million salary in 2014.
Here’s the transcript of how that press conference might go:
MLS Analyst Kaylyn Kyle: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today for this exciting press conference. We have a special announcement to make regarding the career future of U.S Men’s National Team captain Christian Pulisic. Please welcome Christian, New York City FC CEO Brad Sims, and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber.
Don Garber: Thank you everyone. This is a monumental moment for Major League Soccer, and the rise of soccer in America. Christian Pulisic is not only a world-class player, but also an incredible ambassador for the sport and for this country. His decision to join New York City FC and Major League Soccer through the 2027 season sends a powerful message about the league’s growth, its competitiveness, and the increasing appeal it has for top-tier talent from leagues around the globe. Christian’s presence will undoubtedly elevate the level of competition and bring even more excitement to our fans here in New York, and across the league.
Brad Sims: Christian’s arrival here is a game-changer for New York City FC. As a club, we’ve always aimed to assemble a competitive team that can contend for championships. With Christian on board, our aspirations are even higher. His skill, experience, and leadership qualities will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the team’s performance and the development of our young talents. We are thrilled to have him as part of our squad. Welcome to the Club, Christian!
(APPLAUSE AS PULISIC POSES WITH HIS NO 10 NYCFC KIT)
Christian Pulisic: Thank you Commissioner and Mr. Sims. I’m excited to be here to join New York City FC. I’m looking forward to training with the team this week and getting ready for Leagues’ Cup, and defend the Cup after last year’s thrilling tournament victory. I’m excited to hit the ground running, meet my teammates and coaches, and say hello to some of the best supporters in the league waiting downstairs.
KK: Let’s take some questions … (Points to front row…)
Trent Crimm: Yes, Trent Crimm, The Independent…Christian, many older world-class players have used MLS as a final big-paycheck career swan song. And for the few that have had solid careers here, many others have failed or looked like they were just going through the motions of their retirement lead-up. And you’re 26 years old, at the peak of physical conditioning, and have had a stellar career for both club and country.
CP: Yes Trent, thank you. Is there a question in there?
TC: Yes. Why now? Why come home to play when you had so many suitors in Europe, and so many football media critics say you owed it to the game not to come to MLS, and play against only the top players from around the world, not in a “selling league.” And others saying you are refusing to “fight for your spot” in the Milan lineup, and taking the easy way out by coming to MLS, where you’ll most certainly start?
CP: The decision to come here was a combination of factors. I remember. like it was yesterday, watching our U.S. Men’s National Team play in the Gold Cup in July of 2023, polishing my freshly won CONCACAF Nations League winners’ medal, and hearing Landon Donovan express his displeasure that I had not considered playing in MLS in 2023 instead of going to AC Milan. When Alexi Lalas said he partly agreed with him, I gave it deeper thought.
Yes, I know seeing Lionel Messi, the world’s greatest soccer player, come to Inter Miami in 2023 had US soccer fans dreaming of their heroes coming home to challenge him and raise the status of MLS in the world in the process. At that time, I listened to those who felt the USA was no place for a great soccer player in their prime, and accepted the $4 million-per-year offer from the Rossoneri, which was a 50% pay cut for me from my Chelsea wages. But hey, it’s Milan, right?
After solid form in 2024 and my injury in the Champions League semis, I found myself on the outside of the AC Milan Starting XI, and only saw spot starts and substitute action. I realized it was my time at Chelsea all over again, and it was time for me to come home to America, to spearhead the growth of the soccer in the USA, especially with Major League Soccer’s new promotion/relegation system debuting in 2027. And New York City, the media capital of the world, with a new soccer stadium on the horizon, is just the place to make it happen.
DG: Christian Pulisic is a household name in the world of soccer. His signing with NYCFC will undoubtedly bring increased attention to Major League Soccer from both domestic and international audiences — especially on the heels of Lionel Messi’s two seasons in the league and the attention and investment that brought forward in rapid expansion to new markets.
It’s a significant step forward for our league’s growth and international reputation, and we expect Christian to not be the last big world-class name to sign with MLS this summer, with our new increased salary cap, luxury tax, and extra DP slots for MLS 5+ year veterans and US/Canada-native players.
Alexi Lalas: Christian, do you feel by joining New York City FC for the next two seasons, playing in MLS instead of Europe, that you’ll be the best version of yourself, ready and in-form for the World Cup in 2026, exclusively on Fox Sports?
CP: As long as I can stay healthy, yeah! I fully expect to be ready and roaring for next year’s World Cup. I pray my MLS career goes better than Messi’s, who took that horrible two-footer challenge from an MLS Next Pro call-up in his second match, and put Messi on the bench for 10 months. Fort Lauderdale is just now recovering from the Great Messi Injury Fan Riots of 2023 — never forget, people.
Andrew Weibe: (The sound of a leaf blower is in the background, for some reason.) This week, Bishop Westervelt and members of the Church of Latter-Day Promotion and Relegation, still in mourning over the death of USL’s promotion/relegation dreams, demanded that you insist that MLS open up their new promotion/relegation system to the whole country, lower-tier leagues, indoor soccer leagues, etc. Will you push to make that happen, or will you, as they said, quote “JUST GO BACK TO EUROPE WHERE THERE’S ‘REAL’ SOCCER NOT LIKE THIS UNHOLY CLOSED SYSTEM AND WHEN WILL FIFA AND US SOCCER’S BOARD STEP IN AND REMOVE THEIR SANCTIONING? WE CAN DO THIS, PEOPLE!!!” … unquote. Any comment?
CP: None. I’m Catholic. Next?
Tom Bogert: Christian, with your experience playing in three top European leagues, and a Champions League win, how do you see your role in helping develop the sport and young players here in Major League Soccer — especially with you being so young at age 26?
CP: Having had the opportunity to play in Europe and experience the highest level of competition, I hope to bring that knowledge and experience to Major League Soccer. I want to help elevate the level of play and contribute to the development of young talents within this league. It’s crucial to create an environment where young players can grow and reach their full potential, and I hope my experience will help me to be a role model for aspiring soccer players in the United States and inspire them to chase their dreams — like of a USA World Cup win in 2026.
Bradley Wright-Phillips: Question for Mr. Sims. Was this move to counter the rumors of Neymar signing with New York Red Bulls? Hey, and remember when we beat you guys 7-0 back in…
BS: No comment on that. Good luck. We’ll see you in a few weeks at a sold-out Yankee Stadium. How’s that flooded parking lot doing?
KK: …Annnnd that’s all the time we have. You can see Pulisic play his first match for New York City FC this weekend in Las Vegas against expansion FC LV, exclusively on MLS Season Pass. Good afternoon, everyone! …. (whispering to Christian) You know Christian, Minnesota United is also a great team with a great coach … if you ever want a transfer, I’ll give Adrian a call…