The good times keep rolling for Christian Pulisic.
The 18-year-old had an incredible year as he broke into the first team for Borussia Dortmund and asserted himself as a key player for the German powerhouse. He has also become a central figure for the United States and his potential for the future has American fans doing cartwheels.
After one season with Dortmund’s youth teams, he made his first appearances for the first team in some club friendlies in January 2016. It was only a few short months later that he would become the club’s youngest player ever to play in the UEFA Champions League. A week after that debut, he scored his first Champions League goal a day before turning 18 years old!
So what exactly is it like to be on that field at the ripe age of 17? Pulisic sat down with Jason Davis of SiriusXM FC earlier this week and reflected on representing Dortmund and the USMNT:
“It was one of my biggest dreams to play in such a big tournament. It was such an honor to get a chance to do that with Dortmund and of course against big names and big teams.”
But Christian is far from satisfied. He is wise beyond his years and understands he can use this to grow as a player. “I’m really excited to get that experience and put it behind me now,” he said.
Pulisic was lucky enough to end his first full season with Dortmund’s first team with a trophy celebration. BvB defeated Eintracht Frankfurt late last month to win the German Cup and he was, of course, vital to the cause.
The American wiz kid subbed into the match in the 46th minute and earned a penalty kick that proved to be the winner for Dortmund. “It was amazing,” he explained. “My first professional trophy after such a hard season with a lot of ups and downs. To come away with a trophy at the end was really cool to go out as a champion and end the season like that.”
With the success of the club season behind him, Pulisic is now focused on international duty. A big question surrounding the youngster is how exactly he should fit into the system. He has played out wide quite a bit, but proved last night he can be successful in a more central role.
There is plenty of debate there, but what does the player himself have to say about it?
“I think it’s a good quality to be able to play multiple positions. Obviously that’s what I’ve done for club and country. I really like both positions that I tend to play with each team. It’s just normal to me because played a lot of both positions growing up. It’s just about adapting to the style of the team and the position I’m in. I play with the same mentality, an attacking mindset, and just [go] at defenders in both positions.”
With Bruce Arena now the coach of the USMNT, Christian has not missed a beat. He respects both his new coach and the dismissed Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Now with Bruce, he is a great coach also. He’s shown me a lot of new things and I’m learning a lot. It’s been great having both of them and to be able to see different mindsets and approaches to the game.”
Pulisic can often seem like a seasoned professional in the way he carries himself and responds to questions. But make no mistake, he is still just a kid who is loving this whirlwind.
“It is everything I imagined it to be,” he explained. “It was always a dream of mine to play for the U.S. National Team. It’s just an honor every time I get to wear the crest, so I’m really excited for the future.”
And that is a good thing too. Because the immediate future brings the ultimate matchup for the USMNT: a World Cup qualifier against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
“Yeah....I don’t even really know what to expect,” he quipped. “It’s obviously my first time playing for the national team there, but I’m really excited for it....We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Christian recognizes the situation he’s in. He is not over his head with all this excitement and praise. You can be sure he knows names like Freddy Adu and Julian Green. He understands young kids are looking up to him and that a nation full of fans have high hopes for him. But does he feel all the extra pressure?
“It’s really just an honor for me. It doesn’t put any added pressure on me, or I don’t put extra pressure on myself because there’s just no need to. I’m really happy to be that person and I just try to carry myself in the right way so kids will always do that.”