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Hope Personified: The Pulisic-McKennie Era has arrived

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The teenage stars are a beacon of hope in troubling times

Portugal vs USA - International Friendly Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

For those of you like myself, Monday is a day that you’ve been looking forward to for a long time. No, it‘s not just because I’m eagerly anticipating BBQ and a long weekend. It’s because the Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie era is about to begin. I’ve gone on and on ad nauseum about these two young men, including one or both in nearly every iteration of the Weekly Youth Updates over the last nine months. That’s for good reason-they’re the two best prospects in our player pool. On Monday, we should get our first glimpse of them together for the USMNT.

The two 19-year-olds have been so often linked together, but the reality is they come from very different backgrounds. Pulisic grew up in Pennsylvania in a household surrounded by footballers. Both his mother and father played the sport and often were there to provide coaching for him as a young man. McKennie fell in love with the sport more due to his environment. As a child, he played the sport when he lived in Germany for a few years while his father was stationed there. Pulisic played club football in a USSDA system outside of MLS (Pennsylvania Classics). McKennie was developed at FC Dallas’s academy. Pulisic moved to Borussia Dortmund as a 16-year-old after obtaining a Croatian passport. McKennie turned down a homegrown MLS contract offer to sign with FC Schalke when he turned 18. Pulisic made his professional debut at 17 years old for Borussia Dortmund after a strong showing at a winter camp. McKennie debuted at 18 years old on the last day of the season. Pulisic debuted for the USMNT at 17 years old and already has 20 international appearances. McKennie didn’t debut for the USMNT until last November, and that’s still his only cap. Oh and by the way, they play on opposite sides of the greatest rivalry in Germany.

However it’s come to be, Pulisic and McKennie are now linked together. McKennie is just three weeks older than Pulisic. They live 30 minutes apart. They’re the only two American teenagers to appear regularly in a Top 5 League. They’re both on teams that qualified for the group stage in next season’s Champions League. They’re Number One and Number Two on American Soccer Now’s most recent Top 100 US players. And they’re the headliners of the talented new generation that will be tasked with rebuilding the national team.

Over the last seven and a half months since the World Cup Qualifying failure, we’ve all read countless articles about the future of the USMNT. Writers and fans have been pencilling McKennie and Pulisic alongside each other in theoretical future lineups, but on Monday we finally actually get to see it live. This will happen on the same night that the American Outlaws will present Pulisic with his AO Men‘s Player of the Year trophy. I’m excited for it. The wait is nearly over. Despite all the negativity around US Soccer, these young men provide hope. Hopefully American Manager Dave Sarachan allows us a little bit of healing by starting them both. Buckle your seatbelts, because a new era is about to begin!