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Pulisic makes history, shows poise ahead of Copa America

Christian Pulisic USA Bolivia 05282016

KANSAS CITY, Kansas — For those following the U.S. Men’s national team, any time Dortmund’s 17-year-old Christian Pulisic takes the field is a landmark. A player so young  playing in a top European league and featuring regularly with the national team is something to behold.

Pulisic and the national team completed their preparation for the upcoming Copa America Saturday night with a rout of Bolivia, 4-0, at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kans.

Few U.S. players didn’t excel in the match, but Pulisic, who came onto the pitch in the 63rd minute, made history.

After rounding a Bolivian defender, Pulisic slid the ball in past Bolivian goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra to become the youngest goalscorer in U.S. national team history. The previous youngest scorer was Juan Agudelo at 17 years and 359 days.

“It’s incredible,” Pulisic said. “I don’t know what to say. Anytime you come across a [milestone], something big like this when something happens, it’s amazing. I’m just proud.”

He added, however, that the accomplishment isn’t distracting him from the ultimate goal: winning.

“I’m just living life,” Pulisic said. “I’m just kind of living in the moment, you know? It’s cool. Stats and stuff are cool, but I want to win this tournament coming up with this team, and that’s the overall goal. So I don’t really care about being the first goalscorer, or whatever.”

The impact of Pulisic to the match was felt quickly, as it only took him six minutes to score. The Americans combined on first-touch passes all night and scored goals from impressive passing combinations. Pulisic’s goal, off a perfect Darlington Nagbe pass, was one such combination.

Going into Copa America, which starts June 3 against Colombia in Santa Clara, Calif., for the USMNT, the national team looks set to put its best soccer on display. The team isn’t missing any players to injuries and Klinsmann seems set on a back line that works.

As for Pulisic, the Hershey, Pennsylvania native is going into Copa America having played first-team matches in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund this season and starting his international career on the right foot.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he had no concerns about Pulisic’s development due to his footing at Dortmund, a club with a great history of developing young players.

“The people there, they know who to develop talent,” Klinsmann said. “They brought out very big names that won the World Cup two years ago, so they know how to handle young talent.

“He’s a wonderful kid,” Klinsmann said. “He’s grounded and he knows that he has a long way to go, but he has no fear, and this is very important: not having fear, especially when you play in our region where it becomes really physical. What you’re going to see next Friday will be very, very physical.”

Based on the recent friendlies it appears Pulisic should be in line for minutes at Copa America. Just how many remains to be seen, but Saturday’s goal should provide him some momentum as he prepares for his first senior international tournament.

“A goal always brings the confidence up so I’m feeling great now,” Pulisic said .”But I’ve always tried to be
confident no matter what happened.”

16 comments
  • UclaBruinGreat

    I am hopeful now that we can get out of the group. I think every game will be close and it’s just a matter if the team makes some plays and has some luck and wins/draws those games. I can see us going 3-0 in the group and also see us going 0-3. A bounce here or there, a missed chance or a mistake could be the difference in each game. Razor thin margins.

    Like

  • I scored three goals in one game

    The way pulisic and nagbe are playing right now it’s hard not to start them.

    Like

    • Chano-y-Chon

      Yes, and no. They are relative newcomers, Pulisic, so, so young. You don’t want to burn them out, or put too much responsibility on their shoulders quite yet. Progress requires a build up, a gradual increase in their minutes and so for the weight they will carry. But overall, the development of American youth now in Europe is really encouraging, Hyndman, Zelalem, Pulisic, Green, Brooks, Wood, Yedlin, Gyau, Wright, Boyd, Morales, et al – all these guys, it bodes very well for our future and for our growing ability to play possesion oriented attacking football – the beautiful game. Lord knows the US knows how to bunker down, park the bus, and play for the counter attack.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Johnnyrazor

      I actually thought despite the goal the two didn’t look as good last night. Some of that due to the game being already out of hand some due to Pulisic switching more to the middle when Wondo came on. No complaints in how they played just wasn’t as awed by their performances.

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  • Lost in Space

    Looking forward to watching this kid progress over the next couple years. He is an immense talent and has been playing like someone with years of professional experience. As he and the other young technical players break into the USMNT this team is going to become really fun to watch in a couple years. Young players like CCV, EPB, Olosunde, Payne, Acosta, Hyndman, Zelalem, Arriola, Canouse, Arce, Perez, Wright, Rubio, Senora, etc…. Most of these players should really begin to make waves with their clubs in the upcoming season and become major contributors shortly there after.

    We are quickly approaching a minor transition within the USMNT as Wondo, Orozco, Beckerman, Howard, Jones & Dempsey are phased out of the team. And are about 3-4 years away from a major player turn-over as Bradley’s generation begins to be phased out.

    Hopefully we can attract/sign a really good coach after 2018 who can take these talented players to the next level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • quozzel

      “Major turnover” and “Bradley’s generation” are actually not accurate. If you really look, the biggest problem the USMNT has had lately, by a lot, was the massive donut hole in the middle of the talent pool in the 24-32-year-old age bracket. Those guys just didn’t turn out. Bradley’s generation consists of Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya, and Geoff Cameron. That’s about it unless you count Jozy Altidore…who I suspect is about to find himself on the outside looking in if Wood, Zardes, and Pulisic continue to show out, especially when Aron Johanssen returns. Some of that was guys like Stu Holden, Joe Gyau, and Josh Gatt seeing their careers derailed by injuries, but that age group is just really, really lacking for the USA. No clue why.

      The rest of the pool is all 33 or older…or younger than 24. Well, I guess Nagbe is now technically 25, but he’s got at least two World Cups in him if he stays healthy.

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      • Lost in Space

        Bradley’s generation may not have produced as many consistent starters/contributors as we’d like but there are a number of fringe & depth players who fall into this category. Players who are or have been fairly regular call-up inclusions over the past few years and/or have been part of major tournaments for us. Players like….
        Bradley, Fabian, Cameron, Bedoya, Besler, Guzan, Gonzalez, Williams, Ream, Nguyen, Zusi, Castillo, Lichaj, Villafana, Edu, Adu, Torres….and to a lesser degree Jozy, Nagbe, Chandler, Shea, Corona, Morales, Diskerud, Johannsson, etc…

        Most of these guys may not be starters and/or favorites, but they’ll still need to be replaced within the player pool and therefore represent a fair amount of turn-over and a lot of lost experience.
        As you stated with the “hole in the middle of our player pool” we’ll have to fill the void left by all these guys with players who are mostly from those players who were a part of the last U-20 WC age bracket or younger.
        It is great that some of the young talent we are expecting to fill these voids are in some notable club situations (Tottenham, Chelsea, BvB, Arsenal, etc…) but it is still asking a lot to expect all of these guys to pan our or stay injury free.

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      • Pirithous

        Johannsson (25), Zardes (24, 25 at the end of summer), and Nagbe (26 this summer) are certainly in the “donut hole” age group you are trying to point at — there is no use trying to pretend they are younger than they are, and as Lost in Space points out, there are a lot of regulars that you ignore. And I am not sure why on earth you would try to act as if Jozy is not a major contributor within that age group — Lost in Space even tries to put him in the “to a lesser degree” category (a lesser contributor than Eric Lichaj and Freddie Adu? Yikes, I’ve seen a lot of Jozy hate in my day, but that’s a little ridiculous). There is a talent lag in that age group — no Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey has really stepped forward (though Bradley and Altidore have been massive contributors to the national team, neither are at a super high level and they are not enough on their own), but that is how youth development works. The funny thing is, back around the time of the 2007 U20 world cup there were a lot of people saying the same thing you are now (though admittedly without the odd obfuscations — maybe you should actually look up some of the ages of these players instead of just assuming they are teenagers): just wait until this new group of youngsters pushes these old players whom I am tired of out of the way; then we will truly be world class!

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    • Louis Z

      You pretty much got all of the young ones, not too many people know about Olosunde, I think he is going to be great but I wonder if he will get fast tracked since he is a RB like Yedlin. Olosunde’s game reminds me of a young Eric Abidal from Barcelona.

      Like

  • Mike22

    Interesting and sobering to bring up Agudelo. A good reason to put the brakes on the hype train just a bit.

    Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      Agudelo never had near the talent of Pulisic. He was an amazing athlete with speed to burn, but even now 6 years older has no where near the technical ability and I haven’t seen him this year, but in the past hasn’t had the defensive fight or positional awareness of CP. Despite going to Holland where everyone says no one plays defense (at the same age as Jozy) he couldn’t make an impact.

      The new formation adds some hope that Juan could help the Nats, but his lack of development over the last five years leaves me without much hope.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Louis Z

      My take on Agudelo is that he never had the hunger and drive. He comes from a well to do family and got free money when he went to England and then he practically took a year off and now he is back where he started from.

      Like

  • GTV

    Speed kills. It has been this way for the USMNT since LD and Beasley were pups. Put Yedlin, Nagbe, Pulisic and Wood in and let ’em fly at the opposition.

    Like

  • fast right leg

    The kid is ready to play. Is he ready to be a keystone, future captain type player? Not yet. Is he ready to be penciled in for 90 every match? Of course not.

    But this kid knows how to play and play well against high quality players. I’m downright sick of this American mindset that delays player development out of irrational fear. It’s the same problem we have at the youth development level. Kids are stagnated instead of being challenged to higher levels at younger ages, and by the time we say they are ready they’ve already hit the ceiling of their development.

    If Pulisic had stayed in the states and gone the MLS route he’d be nowhere near the level he currently is, but he was brave and challenged himself to fight for playing time and in so doing has quickly become one of our more dangerous attacking players. Why should we treat him differently as an international?

    Like

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