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Patient Pulisic understands Klinsmann’s cautious approach

Jurgen Klinsmann is in no rush to throw Christian Pulisic straight into the fire, despite the young midfielder making a good case for a bigger role with the USMNT.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Colombia at USA Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

-Ed. Note: Gavin Ewbank is a columnist for and is currently in Jacksonville ahead of the USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago World Cup qualifier.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s been a big year for Christian Pulisic.

The young American midfielder made his senior team debut with Borussia Dortmund back in February, became the youngest American to score a goal in the Bundesliga, was capped by the US Men’s National Team, and became the youngest USMNT player to score a goal in a World Cup qualifier with his two-goal performance against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday.

And next Sunday, Sept. 18. he’ll turn 18 years old.

With all of that on his resume this early into his young career, Pulisic has American fans excited for what’s still to come.

“It’s been a crazy year for me, obviously, going from a lot of youth teams and programs to go straight to professional and top teams, but it’s been really exciting and I’m really happy with where it’s going so far, and we’ll see how it turns out,” Pulisic said

While Jurgen Klinsmann has not shied away from the opportunity to get Pulisic involved with the national team at just 17 years old — bringing him along for the United States’ campaign in the Copa America this summer, for example — he hasn’t been in any rush to make Pulisic a main character in the USMNT’s lineup this summer.

“I think in general it’s important to kind of give younger players time, and have that patience, and when moments are there give them minutes or the star is not an issue, we just need to make sure it all comes at the right time,” Klinsmann said on Monday ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago. “We are all excited about a very special talent. He has a long, long way to go and hopefully he goes a long way with many years to come.”

Young talents like this haven’t come around all that often for the United States, which has seen a recent infusion of strong youthful attacking players under Klinsmann, with Pulisic, Bobby Wood, and Jordan Morris all seeing consistent call-ups and minutes over the past 12 months.

Pulisic, of course, is still several years younger than either of those players.

“I would say he’s ahead of his curve. Already physically, he doesn’t seem like he’s behind the team in any way and that’s impressive,” Klinsmann said. “Some players have that ability, and some players it takes until they’re 21, 22, 23 to get that stability, that strength. He seems to be an early developer, and we’re happy to take him that way.”

Aside from getting playing time with the national teams, Pulisic faces another tough battle back in Germany with his club team, which retooled massively this summer, making those opportunities for more Bundesliga seem a little less likely this season.

Klinsmann acknowledged it won’t be easy to win minutes at Dortmund, and while the way the situation has played out recently for Pulisic could be enough to upset a young player, the 17-year-old doesn’t see it as frustrating as people might think.

“It’s not frustrating,” Pulisic said. “I think it’s good to have competition once you get to a professional level. I’m just ready for it and excited for the challenge.”

Klinsmann knows what he has in this young kid from Hershey, PA at this point, and he has a plan to work him in slowly with the national team. Whether or not that’s what Pulisic wants, he knows, is not up to him, but he understands the reasons to do so.

“I’m ready for whatever comes.” he said. “I think it’s fine to be patient, and I know that I have to develop as a young player, and I’m excited to see how that happens.”