Called a “fast-rising talent” by Sports Illustrated, Christian Pulisic is making waves as a new addition to the U.S. men’s national soccer team (USMNT). The 18-year-old, born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is of slight frame but possesses strong dribbling skills, a talent which gained him attention as part of Borussia Dortmund, scoring four goals in his career with the organization.
Among USMNST fans, Pulisic quickly earned a reputation for modesty in the face of circumstances that would certainly inflate other egos. In the face of a recent loss to Mexico, Pulisic insists that he didn’t do enough to push for a U.S. victory.
Really, that simple admission sums up who Pulisic is as both a player and an individual: a hard worker with the determination to consistently improve his showing. Any individual forming the backbone of the USMNT offense in their first appearance has to have both the physicality and the mentality to contend with career players. Pulisic’s tactical approach to his game, exploiting holes in opposing defenses, displays a patience and expertise formed by a lifetime of soccer.
His game against Mexico may have been a disappointing loss for the USMNT, but his showing, marred only slightly by a bad touch, demonstrates that he has the mettle to play with the game’s titans. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann praised Pulisic’s performance during the game, but is keeping the teen under wraps for now, refusing to overhype his prowess.
However, this hasn’t stopped the rest of the soccer community from doing exactly that. And it’s not hard to see why. His list of accomplishments includes the honors of being the youngest American to play, score, and later start, in a World Cup Qualifier.
Pulisic may well have been inspired by his parents, both of whom played collegiate soccer at George Mason University. His father, Mark, went on to play professionally for the Harrisburg Heat.
After playing for various youth teams, Pulisic joined the U-17 Borussia Dortmund squad, distinguishing himself and earning the respect of his teammates not only for his skill, but for his personality and down-to-earth nature. With ten goals and eight assists over the course of 15 games, the team’s management knew that they had something special on their hands.
He was quickly promoted to Dortmund’s U-19 team, netting experience in the FIFA World Cup as part of the U.S U-17’s before being recruited for the USMNT.
There’s a lot riding on Pulisic’s shoulders at this point. Criticisms of Jürgen Klinsmann’s coaching have been met with calls for Pulisic to rescue the franchise from the jaws of what many view as mediocre management. Is it a lot to ask from a single 18-year-old? Maybe, but Really, it’s too early to tell whether he’ll be able to deliver on whatever high hopes his team and country have ascribed to him, but his position as a young rising star ensures that his career is far from over.