So, that Pulisic boy had a good game last night. Well, good is putting is fairly mildly. In his first start for the United States, Christian Pulisic not only played the full 90 minutes, he was the stand out player on the pitch. For a kid that hasn’t even hit his 18th birthday yet, that’s incredible. He showed strength in possession, speed on the counter, and composure in the final third. Pulisic also was an instrumental outlet in attack, providing an assist. With a little luck, he would have had an additional assist for what would have been Altidore’s hattrick and a goal (if one of the deflections off either post had gone in). And this came days after he scored twice and put up an assist against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
That’s a lot of hype surrounding a young player. This is not helped by the fact that he received the number 10 jersey for his first start for the National Team. Traditionally the number of one of the main attackers in the team, there seems to be no stopping the excitement for this teen sensation. It may take all of the mental fortitude we have, but we have to pump the brakes for a second. It is amazing to finally have a breakout young star in the team who looks like they can go the distance. Pulisic genuinely does. We have to remember, though, that he is only 17. He is going to have bad patches. He is learning on the job, in front of millions of viewers, and that is a LOT of pressure. This is not a plea to not be excited. It’s soccer, you’re supposed to be excited. Instead, let’s maintain a perspective going forward. The staff at 32 Flags have been monitoring this kid since he first transferred to Borussia Dortmund in 2014. We are aware of his obvious potential. The player doesn’t appear to be another false dawn, but there is a long way to go before he is “established.” We, as fans, need to give him the time and leniency to grow, accepting the inevitable hiccups and mistakes that go along with that.
All one needs to do is look at all of the other potential superstars that the United States has produced before Pulisic. Freddy Adu immediately comes to mind. As a young player, Adu was hailed as the American Pele, the first US player to make it to the world class designation. After a short time of that, however, the hype died down and he has become a bit of a traveler in search of a regular club. There are certainly others. Jozy Altidore comes to mind as a player highly thought of that didn’t quite make it in Europe. While he has returned to MLS and begun reestablishing himself, his stock will not return to what it was when he was smashing goals for fun in the Eredivisie. This isn’t to say Pulisic will no doubt suffer the same fates as those two players as well as many others, but they provide cautionary tales and a reminder of a road we as fans have been down many times when we see an American with potential.
For the time being, let’s sit back and enjoy watching this incredibly talented young player blossom for the United States. Everything seems to be going for Pulisic. He is performing well for the National Team. He is a at a club that is famous for giving youth players a chance, in a league that is simultaneously a huge league while not in the spotlight as much as the Premier League or La Liga. The team that is linked with chasing him the most also has that reputation with a manager that highly rates him and is the one that brought him to Dortmund in the first place.
All of the pieces are there for Pulisic to make a big splash. Let’s enjoy the ride and keep a perspective that he’s a young player who will continue to grow with the right coaching and the right attitude. If that happens, who knows what’s in store for Christian Pulisic.