At the risk of sounding like an obvious idiot, I’m here to declare that Christian Pulisic, 100 percent, without a doubt, has to be in Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup against Mexico on Friday night. The time for training wheels and/or subduing the “hype train” is over.
The U.S. men’s national team have 10 matches between them and a trip to the 2018 World Cup. The best players need to have the biggest roles on the team starting now. No more of the “he’s just 18 years old” or “he’s better as a late-game substitute” excuses.
Bringing him along slowly in the Copa America this summer was the smart thing to do. But, he’s grown up a lot since then with both Borussia Dortmund and the United States. He’s been acclimated to the Champions League and World Cup qualifying. Played in hostile environments and high pressure situations.
Conventional wisdom tells us that, yes, he is still just 18 years of age and only at the beginning of hopefully long and burgeoning career. Unfortunately the USMNT isn’t loaded with tons of attacking talent that provides them the luxury of bringing him along slowly, nor should they even if they did. He’s proven in one of the best leagues in the world that he can hold his own in any situation he’s inserted into.
The USA/Mexico rivalry is as intense as it gets in this part of the world. It’s time for Christian Pulisic to get his first taste of it and hopefully be a difference maker in the match.
That’s my feeling on Pulisic’s prospects to start on Friday. The only person’s opinion who matters is Jurgen Klinsmann’s. Will he agree?