Heading into his third season with Chelsea, Christian Pulisic is working to change his mindset.

It's not that Pulisic would say that opening himself up or sharing his vulnerability felt like weakness earlier in his life, but rather that now that he has been seeing a therapist it has helped him radically changed his mindset and embrace the challenges that come with his career.

"It really just gave me someone that would just listen to me and listen to how I felt," Pulisic tells CBS Sports. "Previously I was feeling too tough, or that I didn't need [therapy]. 'I'm fine. I can deal with it.' I felt like if I were to talk about the way I felt that I was weak or something like that.

"That's where I just changed my mindset and said 'if this is going to help me -- which it has, and it's made me feel a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable and, and yeah, just ready to work on it -- [I should do it].' That is really a thing that I hope a lot of people can take from it. I hope that people can choose to do the same."

For Pulisic, for any top athlete, acknowledging one's own vulnerability is no simple task. After all it is almost impossible to achieve what the US international has already managed in his soccer career – a Champions League title, playing for European powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, silverware with the USMNT, all before the age of 23 -- without an iron clad belief in your own destiny.

"It's not an easy thing to change my way of thinking," he explains. "You have to kind of accept that and understand that you're going to have to change and you're going to have to open up. It's a hard thing for a lot of people, as it was for me."

Hard though it may be to share those struggles with the wider world Pulisic is one of a growing number of athletes to do just that. Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and Ben Stokes have all stepped back from the white hot glare of major competition to focus on themselves. Pulisic has not had to do so but the willingness of others to speak out has prompted a similar openness from the US international.

"I think it's a really good sign. I felt very open to talk about it as well because of those other examples [such as Biles], because of other people who have gone through struggles and are open to speaking about it.

"Everyone has their problems, everyone has difficulties getting through different things in life, whatever their circumstances may be. So it's really important that everyone is really conscious of just the way they're feeling and then their own mental health."

Pulisic's third season with Chelsea begins in the aftermath of remarkable highs with club and country. He became the first American born footballer to win the Champions League in May and he could certainly say he played a crucial role in the Blues road to and eventual win in Porto. His goal in the first leg of the semi final gave Real Madrid a mountain to climb and he ended the competition with assists against both sides from the Spanish capital.

Days later he was flying in to Denver to join the US national team for the CONCACAF Nations League where he would score the winning penalty against Mexico before lifting his first piece of international silverware.

"The end of the season is just a time I'll never forget," he says. "I mean, halfway through the season if you were to tell [the Chelsea squad] that we're winning the Champions League it would have been hard to believe. But the work that we put in, the change in the team and how we all came together, it meant so much more at the end of the season. It was just something that we'll share with each other forever.

"It was such a special experience and then right after that to then go with the national team and getting my first trophy with them was also just incredible.

"There were finals that [Chelsea] lost the last couple of years and that makes you want to not want that feeling anymore. And now winning, it's definitely an addictive feeling. And that's exactly what we want to go after again. We just want to continue to win titles."

This has been a significant summer for Pulisic off the pitch as well as on it. Parting ways with Nike, he has joined Puma in a long term deal that both parties see stretching far beyond just what boots he wears… though he is more than happy with the Puma Ultra boots that he thinks can help maximize his speed on the pitch.

Pulisic sees a bigger picture in this partnership, looking to expand the work he has done building pitches in his home town of Hershey and expanding soccer participation across the USA.

"Puma just really had exactly the same sort of outlook on to how we want to continue to inspire kids, especially in in America and hopefully all over the world, wanting anyone that loves the game to be able to play soccer. And I think it was s such a perfect fit and something that I'm really excited about.

"I think that's the goal: to just grow the sport, as big as possible and hoping to inspire kids one by one so that anyone that loves the game can try to do what I've done. I hope that I can be an inspiration and Puma sees it the exact same way."


He may not turn 23 until next month but already Pulisic is beginning to see himself as a veteran. He laughs at how swiftly he has gone from the fresh young face in the US squad to the seasoned figure charged with leading the likes of Segino Dest, Yunus Musah and Giovanni Reyna. Already the captain believes his US team is a "very tough" one, hardened by its successes against Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup. "I think it's something that we've definitely lacked a bit in recent years but something that I think US fans can be very excited about," he says.

The lessons he learned from Clint Demspey, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are already being passed down the line to the next group of leaders. Perhaps, in those circumstances, it is natural that even a man as youthful as Pulisic starts thinking about an impact that extends beyond his playing career and being the player who convinces the next generation to take to the soccer field.

"That would be incredible," Pulisic says of the possibility of one day donning a US shirt alongside a youngster who learned his trade on one of his pitches or was inspired by his career. "It's always great to be remembered for how successful I was as a player or whatever I have accomplished as a player.

"But even more importantly, is hoping that I can inspire the next generation. Maybe a younger guy who looked up to me and then plays with me one day, and if I had any impact on him, I think that's what's really going make me the most proud in my career."