The United States men’s national team are just over 24 hours from kickoff of a vital World Cup qualifier against Honduras in San Jose. While the confidence in the overall program right now seems to be low, one factor still has supporters excited to watch this team — Christian Pulisic.
The 18-year-old has been the talk of the American soccer community for the better part of a year now and he continues to impress each and every time he takes the field for Borussia Dortmund. Now, coming into an important USMNT camp, he’s going to be expected take on a bigger role.
All through out the week, any time someone has been interviewed and asked about Pulisic, they’ve had nothing but glowing words for him as a player and a person. Tim Howard told ESPNFC earlier this week that he can see noticeable improvement in the youngster’s game.
"His sharpness, his technique, his runs are getting better and better," Howard told ESPN FC.
"He is maturing very quickly, which you would expect of someone who is in the spotlight like he is," Howard said.
"But he's also a good kid. He's a humble kid. He's quiet. From what I know he comes from a very good family, so he does his business very quietly. Although he's playing in the Champions League, he doesn't get too high.
"It's not like he comes in here pounding his chest."
Ever since Pulisic burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old he’s drawn comparisons to arguably the greatest American soccer player in history, Landon Donovan. U.S. manager Bruce Arena acknowledges that the comparisons are apt, but does offer a caveat.
Arena on Pulisic: "He does remind me of Landon, but he has a long way to go before he gets to stand next to Landon." #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 23, 2017
This will be a huge opportunity for Pulisic to cement himself as a USMNT star and show his mettle on the intense international stage. We’ve seen him do it at the highest of levels in Europe. While the sample size is extremely small, we’ve yet to see him impact important matches in this type of environment. He showed signs of brilliance against Trinidad and Tobago in September. We need to see more of that on a consistent basis. With several key players unavailable for these two matches, it’s his time to shine.