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Expectations not on Christian Pulisic’s mind

The young American is primed for another big year for Dortmund and the U.S.

Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City - 2016 International Championship Cup China Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

When you have become the youngest ever foreigner to score in one of the top leagues in the world, not to mention the youngest scorer of multiple goals, for one of the most storied clubs ever, and make your full international debut (and score your first senior international goal, to boot) at the age of 17 years old, the hype might start to get to you. If you’re an American doing these things, you have an incredibly strange mix of rabid fanbase claiming you as their savior and media attention. These are the things Christian Pulisic has to deal with. Just don’t tell him that.

In an interview with Ruhr Nachrichten, a German newspaper that commonly follows Dortmund, Pulisic reminisced on his stratospheric rise over the past twelve months, as well as the challenges that lay ahead with Dortmund. Throughout all, he remained cool, excited, and humble as a teenager can be when he suddenly finds out he could be a superstar in the making (via ESPN):

“The fact that I'm still very young caught the attention of many people. I am obviously aware of that. They put their hopes in me, but I also have high expectations. I'm not letting that get to my head or get carried away. I think that's normal when a young player suddenly plays for the national team. I simply want to stay focused”

Just so we’re clear, here’s a list of all the things Pulisic is still legally not permitted to do:

  • Vote in the United States
  • Purchase cigarettes or lottery tickets in the United States
  • Purchase alcohol in the United States or Germany
  • Drive in Germany (seriously. His Dad still drives him to first team practice)
  • Serve in the military

All this to say: Christian Pulisic is still technically a child. He took a short break from the United States camp this summer to attend prom. Everyone would like to see him become a world-beating star, but all of that pressure can easily crush the livelihood of someone so young. As it stands, it seems Pulisic is handling all of this pressure admirably, and he credits his teammates, both within the USMNT and Borussia Dortmund’s first team, for supporting him.

“Overall I'm very happy with my displays. I had to make great strides. But my teammates and coaches have supported me well and made it easy for me. Everyone had my back In Dortmund as well as in the national team”

And it seems like he means it, too. He just got back from China with Dortmund’s first team, notching a goal against Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. He’s currently playing a starring role in Dortmund’s new youth movement; six (!) players who saw the field for Dortmund against Manchester United and/or Manchester City were teenagers: Pulisic, Felix Passlack (Germany), Ousmane Dembele (France), Emre Mor (Turkey), Jacob Bruun Larsen (Denmark), and Dzenis Burnic (Germany). Four of those players (Pulisic, Passlack, Dembele, and Mor) could quite conceivably play major roles for Dortmund this season, even with an attacking line of Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, and Shinji Kagawa ahead of them. But don’t worry too much about Pulisic. He’s not letting it get to him.