Christian Pulisic Is America’s First World-Class Soccer Player

Christian Pulisic dribbles the ball for Borussia Dortmund in a Bundesliga game against FC Schalke. (TF-Images/Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic dribbles the ball for Borussia Dortmund in a Bundesliga game against FC Schalke. (TF-Images/Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic dribbles the ball for Borussia Dortmund in a Bundesliga game against FC Schalke. (TF-Images/Getty Images)
American Christian Pulisic dribbles the ball for Borussia Dortmund in a Bundesliga game against FC Schalke. (TF-Images/Getty Images)

If you don’t yet have the name “Christian Pulisic” committed to memory, it’s time you did. Because Christian Pulisic is America’s first undisputed world-class soccer player. And he’s only 18.

Oh sure, we’ve had some pretty good players in the past represent the red, white, and blue. Landon Donovan was a great player for the U.S. for more than a decade. The same with Clint Dempsey, who is still a member of the national team. And goalkeepers like Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, and Kasey Keller had successful careers in the top soccer leagues of Europe and were diligent and important servants for soccer in this country. (But they’re goalkeepers; they can only affect the game so much. Plus they can use their hands. It’s sort of cheating.)

But no American soccer player has achieved what Pulisic, who just turned 18 in September, has already done: play consistently for one of the best soccer teams in Europe. (As good as Donovan was, he couldn’t cut it in Germany. And Dempsey was a force for English club Fulham, but Fulham was merely an average team in the Premier League.)

What’s more, there are media reports that Pulisic has already started to attract attention from arguably the greatest soccer team in the world, Barcelona, who might be hot and heavy to sign him.

Currently, Pulisic plays as a wing midfielder for Borussia Dortmund, one of the finest clubs in Germany. And he’s not just a bench warmer; he’s a vital member of the team. In a Champions League match in September (Champions League is the season-long tournament for the best soccer teams in Europe), Pulisic helped his squad tie Spanish giant Real Madrid, coming on as a substitute and setting up scorer Andre Schurrle, as you can see below.

But he’s not just a setup man. He can also score. With his lightning quickness and low center of gravity, he can speed past defenders. And his ability to control the ball with either foot allows him to play anywhere on the field and get off a shot or a cross from virtually any angle. See below.

As a player on the U.S. national team, Pulisic is quickly becoming one of the team’s best attacking options. In 11 career games, Pulisic has already found the net three times and created dozens of other scoring chances for teammates. In a recent World Cup qualifier against Mexico, Pulisic was one of the few bright spots in a 2-1 loss, regularly “ghosting” past Mexican defenders and making life tough on Mexico’s backline with excellent crosses and through-balls.

How did Pulisic get this good, this fast?

Here are some things you should know about him:

•Born in 1998 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic is the son of Mark and Kelley Pulisic, who both played soccer at George Mason University. Mark also played professional indoor soccer for the Harrisburg Heat.

•Christian’s grandfather was born in Croatia, and the Croatian national soccer team wanted Christian to play for them, but he turned them down to play for the U.S.

•Growing up, Christian lived in England for a year, and he also lived in Michigan for a while. Upon returning to the Hershey area, Pulisic played for local youth team PA Classics. He would sometimes train with local pro team Harrisburg City Islanders, too.

•In 2015, at age 16, Pulisic signed a contract with Borussia Dortmund.

Christian Pulisic of USA fights for the ball with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of Mexico in a World Cup qualifier match on November 11, 2016. (Omar Vega/LatinContent/Getty Images)

•In early 2016, Pulisic made his debut in the top German league, the Bundesliga, appearing in a 2-0 win for Dortmund over FC Ingolstadt.

•He scored his first Bundesliga goal for Dortmund on April 17 against Hamburger SV. He scored again against VfB Stuttgart on April 23, becoming the youngest player to score two goals in the Bundesliga.

•On March 28, 2016, Pulisic made his debut for the U.S. in a 4-0 win against Guatemala, which made him the youngest American to play a World Cup qualifier.

•On September 2, 2016, Pulisic scored two goals and an assist against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, becoming the youngest American player to score in a World Cup qualifier.

•He wears No. 10 for the U.S., the same number worn by Landon Donovan.

•Asked about his son by The Ringer, Mark Pulisic said: “What impresses me most about Christian, looking at him as a player rather than a father, he never makes excuses. I’ve coached a lot of players. And when the going gets tough for a lot of players and the level increases, some players get scared. They find ways out. They find ways to make excuses. Christian would always fight.”

You can read more about Pulisic here and here.

—Shawn Donnelly for RealClearLife

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