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U.S. Men's National Team

SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic

Photo by Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Men’s National Team delivered a complete performance in its dominant 4-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday night, and it was the team’s youngest star that stole the show.

Christian Pulisic, who became the youngest-ever American starter in World Cup qualifying, assisted Jozy Altidore’s second of the night after a brilliant solo run before crossing it for Altidore’s tap-in. Pulisic’s excellent performance was enough to earn him the SBI USMNT Man of the Match honors.

Despite not scoring, Pulisic was still exceptional against the Soca Warriors. The Borussia Dortmund attacker recorded four shots, including one that bounced off both posts. Time and time again, Pulisic drove and the T&T defense, repeatedly making the opposing backline uncomfortable. While he was able to continuously create in the attacking end, Pulisic also showed a desire to track back, making several key tackles to seal what was certainly his most impressive performance in a USMNT jersey.

Pulisic’s efforts earned the 17-year-old star as SBI USMNT Man of the Match, beating out the likes of Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan for Tuesday’s honors.

What did you think of Pulisic’s performance? Which player stood out to you in Tuesday’s win?

Share your thoughts below.

53 comments
    • Russell Pemintel

      A near perfect comment really. You coulda added “give it to (a pefectly deserving) Jozy..”

      Like

  • Benjamin C.

    Jozy was fired up and was shrugging defenders off left and right. Two great goals tonight. But I agree, Pulisic was fearless creative, tireless, and seemed to be part of the reason Jozy was fired up. When the veterans realize how great you are in the attack, despite being raw, that is cool to see.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jayboy

      Last game there was a great moment picked up on camera. Klejstan had just assisted on the 2nd Pulisic goal and he ran over to hug him. Then Pulisic walked away and Klejstan grabbed another player (Bedoya maybe) and pointed at Pulisic and the two just kind of nodded and smiled. It was clearly a “wow! This kid is legit!” interaction and it was neat to see live. I totally agree that the veterans are excited to see some great young talent start to breakthrough.

      Liked by 1 person

  • djdj123

    I would give it to Jozy except that Pulisic was involved in creating all 4 goals but especially his movement on 2nd, his creation from the cross to the final pass on the third and his break and key pass to arriola on the 4th. He was a nightmare for T&T. The final pass that jozy tried to chip was really nice outside the right foot and perfectly weighted and timed, it deserved a goal. Jozy did have two goals but overall he was the second best player on the night. I was impressed with his holdup play and efficiency.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lost in Space

      Small correction for you. Pulisic didn’t pass it to Arriola for the 4th goal. Jozy set Pulisic up on a platter at about 10 yards out, but the T&T keeper made a good save that rebounded right into Arriola who was following up on the play from wide right.
      Pulisic got the assist, but Jozy was trying to repay him for the perfect back post pass that got Jozy his 2nd goal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • djdj123

        Yeah, you are right that was Morris . Pulisic won the ball, broke toward goal and passed a sort of hospital ball to morris who really did well to beat two defenders and get the pass to Kljestan who passed to Altidore who passed to Pulisic. That shot was saved by the keeper but Arriola cleaned it up and beat the keeper.

        Like

  • UclaBruinGreat

    One thing I find interesting (with hindsight) is that Pulisic was not even considered for the u-20 World Cup. What happened there??

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    • out with old

      Isn’t there an age restriction, ccv just made the u20 team by I think a week as did epb

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      • UclaBruinGreat

        There is an age restriction but only for going over. U-20 means you have to be under 20. There is no minimum age though. Pulisic could have played for the u-20s at age 16.

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    • Socceroo

      I recently heard an interview with Tab Ramos. He was pretty blunt in saying that the job of the youth coaches is not to win tournaments – it’s to produce players for the senior national team.

      Just an educated guess but In this case Pulisic had probably already reached the point where US coaches thought he was better served by playing elsewhere for club or country.

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      • UclaBruinGreat

        I think you are off on this one. I am pretty sure that for whatever reason Pulisic was not considered good enough yet for the u-20s. Pulisic had not broken into Dortmund’s first team yet and Ramos probably didn’t know what he had with Pulisic yet. Pulisic was used for the less prestigious u-17 World Cup. Unfortunate because the USA U-20 team actually had a chance of winning while the u-17 team did not.

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      • djdj123

        IIRC the U-17 team was very highly rated but had a weak qualifying tournament and sort of backed in to the U-17WC, That team was LOADED and so were the U20s. The U20s were decimated by injuries prior to and during the event and lost in the QF on pens vs the eventual champs. The U-17s flamed out.The only brights sports were Pulisic, Vasquez and de la Torre.

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    • johnnyrazor

      He’d only been with Dortmund for a couple months at that time and just 16. That group also had a pretty strong front core with Arriola, Rubin, Delgado, Hyndman, Zelalem, Jamison, Tall (who seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth),Sonora, and even Jordan Allen and Tommy Thompson were already playing a little in MLS. Romain Gall that scored the most goals in qualifying didn’t even make the squad. He was really good at the U17 WC, but I wasn’t watching him thinking he would be starting for the national team a year later.

      Like

      • UclaBruinGreat

        This is a lesson in perception. If Pulisic is more talented now than those other u-20 players you mentioned he was probably also more talented than them back then. It’s just that he wasn’t perceived to be more talented yet because he didn’t have the playing time with Dortmund yet. It was an unfortunate miss by Ramos and his staff. The other explanation is that Pulisic simply improved drastically during the last year or two, and at a way higher rate than all those u-20 World Cup players on team USA. I find that explanation less likely. But it’s probably a combination of both.

        Liked by 1 person

      • johnnyrazor

        It is kind of hard to evaluate a kid whose playing time is mostly with the PA Classics, to guys playing in MLS and in Europe. You have to also remember when that group qualified in January with the almost intact lineup adding Zelalem and subbing a couple injured, Pulisic had just signed, not from a professional academy, but from said local club. I looked it up there were only two players in the entire tournament who were 16 at the time one from Ghana two days younger than CP and a Panamanian a month older. It doesn’t seem like much, but go to your local high school and look at sophomore boys compared to juniors there is a big physical difference. Sophomores look like tall boys and juniors physically look like men. It certainly was somewhat perception, but its also a case of hindsight. I mean LeBron James probably could have been on the Sydney Olympics as a high school junior but he wasn’t.

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      • johnnyrazor

        Looking at Thompson, Gall, Jamison, and Allen a case for how MLS stunts the growth of young players especially forwards who usually have to sit behind DPs.

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      • Turkmenbashy

        You want to know why Pulisic was left off the U-20 team? why he was overlooked? because in the USA, especially at a youth level, coaches (and apparently Tab Ramos falls into this too) look at size and strength and mistake that for talent. So a 16 yr. old Pulisic… you know the announcers said he is 140lbs NOW… when they picked the U-20, he was probably 130… He is not particularly tall, he is not particularly fast. He is just a great player. But the US doesn’t value that enough… or they don’t have the eyes to see it enough.

        Typical in the US is to think a bigger stronger 18 yr. old is a better player than a smaller, 16/17 yr. old. and, at that moment in time, they are probably right… especially when even the bigger stronger guys got shoved around like rag-dolls by Serbia. Also, though, I don’t blame the coaches entirely either. Pulisic probably did develop a LOT over the past 2 years. I mean, he is a teenager. He probably grew into his body, developed touch, etc. and frankly, staying out of the US camps, probably helped his development at Dortmund, where he was able to stay focused and be seen by his coaches every day… rather than leaving all the time to come play for some useless game against Cuba’s U-17/U-20 team…

        So 1. he is still tiny, so he was too small for the US coaches to realize he was good.
        2. he actually wasn’t as good as he is now
        3. the reason for one and 2 is that people’s bodies grow differently (Men aren’t fully grown until about 18-21).

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      • johnnyrazor

        Speaking of size did anyone notice the shot of Arriola during one of the corners, he was dwarfed by three or four from Trinidad. He is listed at 5’6, I don’t remember who the defenders were, but that height seems generous.

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      • fast right leg

        Turkmenbashy – Pulisic not particularly fast? Maybe not on a sprint track but with the ball at this feet he’s as fast as anyone.

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      • Mike

        The advancement of Pulisic really puts the spotlight on the development differences between professional development in Europe compared to the development process here in the US. The only way the USMNT will be a world power is if all of their top talent move to Europe as soon as possible. The US is way behind in development, and does not have the ability to take talents to top tier standards. While MLS is the best we have, no matter who we market it the league as a whole is less skilled than Serie B, Ligue 2, and possibly on par with England’s Division 1.

        Like

      • Mike

        An example of the development differences between one of the top development programs in the world – Dortmund – and the MLS. The MLS provides a professional environment for young players, but in no way does it prepare them for World Class competition. Looking at the development of Cameron and Yedlin, players like Nagbe must go overseas to learn to ply their trade

        Like

      • Louis Z

        Turkmenbashy – I believe CP was already training with the senior team because of injuries and the off-season, back then J. Kloop said he was playing beyond his age, so already coaches started to take notice.

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  • Jayboy

    Pulisic was very good tonight. To prevent my inner hype train from going 200+mph I’ll points out the two weaknesses I saw. He kept ignoring FabJo’s really hard overlapping runs. FJ could have had a goal or another assist if CP had played him in a few times. Also, his final ball was off a bit.
    Meanwhile – back on the hype train – I haven’t seen a US player run with the ball at a defense and cause multiple defenders to panic since LD in his prime. And he can easily correct those two faults by practicing with the team more.

    Like

    • batwact

      I don’t think he ignored FabJo on those overlaps, I think he saw the defense getting pulled wide by the overlap and took his space towards the middle. Had the defense stepped to him, I think he would have hit FabJo, as he did on at least one occasion that I recall. The kid reads the game better than any American I have ever seen at this age.

      Like

    • fast right leg

      I think he made the right decision most of the time. Only really recall him making two bad decisions by not playing runners at the right time (one was to Fabian who would have been in on goal but the pass was late, and the second was to Bedoya on the right). Fabian has a below average service from the left and usually cuts back onto his right which allows the defense to reshape and plug the lanes to goal.Pulisic knows how to maximize danger so when the defense pulls toward an open runner he keeps his head up looking at the goal. It’s refreshing to see the difference.

      Another US player would play those balls to Fabian and as we’ve seen, those plays rarely shake out unless the player can provide a quick service into the box, which is not Fabian’s strength when he’s on his left foot.

      Like

  • Dave

    OTOH, he got shrugged off on the defensive end several times and bit a few too many times on fakes. Off A Def C-.

    Like

  • Lost in Space

    Pulisic deserved the MOTM honor for his overall play. He created scoring opportunities for his teammates while also having chances of his own. Jozy was a close 2nd IMHO. It was really good to see the 2 of them (Pulisic & Jozy) working so well together creating chances and space for each other through their running off the ball and sharp passing. Looking forward to watching the chemistry grow between Pulisic, Wood, Jozy, & Fabian. These 4 really seemed to be enjoying playing with one another. The other think I really liked was that when Morris entered the game there didn’t seem to any disruption in their movements or play.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers

    I thought his first half was good, but not great, but he seemed to get stronger in the second half, imposing his will on T & T. I wasn’t just impressed with his offense, but his ability to track back and pay defense.

    Like

    • Beto

      all aboard the hypetrain – CP10 has graduated from top prospect to USMNT’s top player.

      it might be a couple decades until someone else wears that #10

      Like

  • Buster

    Lets not hear any more about bringing along slowly. He was the best US player on the field last night and there is no need to bring along at all. What we really need JK to do is drop Bedoya and ease Bradley out. Both were killing us last night

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    • Chris the LSU tiger

      Ease out Bradley, the best #6 in our pool, our on field leader, and the player with the highest work rate? Yeah, ok.

      Like

      • johnnyrazor

        I thought Bradley was very good last night when the game opened up, he did well in the first half helping on K.Jones. You would think as much as Bradley and Bedoya have played together that they would have a better connection on the field. I guess you could say the same for Bradley and Jones, too.

        Like

      • Bryan

        I agree you can’t replace Bradley right now but that doesn’t mean the pointless giveaways and butchering every.single.setpiece. should be acceptable.

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      • fast right leg

        Bradley is not ideal for the #6. Honestly, as much as we’ve been playing the diamond 4-4-2 and the 4-3-3 with two attacking mids, there’s really not a spot where Bradley fits (the out of position argument is now a matter of tactical approach not selection).

        If we still played a flat 4-4-2 like we did under Bob or the 4-5-1 with two deep lying CMs like we did during Klinsmann’s early years, then I would agree that Mikey is a top choice for a CM spot. But he is not a good CDM (too loose on the ball, too many giveaways) and he’s not clinical or pacey enough to be good CAM (at least not as good as other players currently ahead of him).

        If we keep the same back 5 setup with the traditional back four with one holding midfielder/”destroyer” ahead, Bradley is not suited and should be behind players like Beckerman who are better in that role.

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      • Atletico Man

        Beckerman “was” better in that role, which is the problem. Bradley is not perfect, but right now he is the best #6 we have.

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      • Louis Z

        I thought MB’s distribution as a 6 is good not excellent. I just don’t see him doing well with shifter mids, MB is not quick at all.

        Like

    • Mike

      I sadly agree. When Bradley was at Roma, he proved that he was very capable of being a good holding midfielder. But, age and past injuries have slowed him down, and he has shown of late that he can no longer play at European/top International speed. We cannot provide enough cover for him. Nagbe has the speed and tenacity to replace him, but needs to hone his skill at a higher level

      Like

      • Twomilerule

        Bradley has slipped not so much in speed but lateral quickness. His ability to win second balls and clean up balls on double teams is where age and injury is showing. He still reads the game really well but accuracy and urgency with balls forward is a problem.
        Nagbe is the best USMNT player on the ball and more then likely the most accurate passer. However, playing defensive midfielder is not his cup of tea. He can track back and play proper defensive angles but he is not a consistent ball winner. Not a dude who will run half the pitch length and take a dude out,just not part of his personality. The thing is he doesn’t need to be or forced into a defensive midfield role.
        I can’t stress enough how positive the left side of the USMNT attack can be with f.Johnson, Pulisic, Wood, Acosta, and Nagbe. Reap all the praise on Kllesten for his recent performances but it took him well into the first half for him to get a touch?

        Like

    • Dennis

      I can’t buy into the hype that Bradley is out. First , there is no replacement for him: Beckerman is older and slower, Jones is showing his age in taking too long to come back from injuries and will soon enough, I think, give up on international soccer. The younger guys will, of course, eventually surpass him, but there is no one who currently can. Comparing Bradley to an attacker (or a keeper) is an exercise in futility.
      Bradley has the discipline to stay home and defend, reads the game well and is so good at showing for teammates passes that they pass him the ball often, as a result, he comes under hard pressure.
      Of course, Bradley is not the quickest player on the field, there are 21 other guys after all, but he is not the slowest either. He wins more tackles than he loses, of course we all wish he would win 100% of them. He does have a penchant for making a safe back pass too often when he could turn. At times tries to pull off a spectacular long pass to a running teammate (such passes generally have low probability of working no matter who is making them, but when they do…) He is still the best player the US has to provide service from long free kicks or corners.

      Like

  • KutamaObama

    Christian Pulisic triple D TNT. Dazzled, Danced and Dribbled around the Trinidad defense. Whenever he got the ball and surged forward, kinda reminds me of when Messi is surging forward with the ball, all defenders are either backing away or chasing him, that’s exactly what CP did all throughout the game. Only one way to stop a player like that…..being physical on them and risking a dangerous setpiece or a yellow card

    Like

  • KutamaObama

    Pls y’all, don’t get it twisted, I am not comparing him with Messi just that they have a similar playing style when in full attack mode.

    Like

  • KutamaObama

    He needs to add a bit of muscles/body weight to handle the physicality of the Concacaf teams especially the Caribbean teams…..that was the only negative in his play

    Like

  • Bryan

    Seeing him get forward with pace and play in his teammates while wearing that number 10 had me thinking Landon was out there

    Like

  • jerrybroadway

    Well I think last night erased any lingering doubts about Pulisic. The kid is an absolute stud, and he can definitely play 90, as he still looked sharp at the end. He absolutely deserves to be in the starting XI every game. He’s earned it. USMNT simply does not have a player with his creative ability and vision. He plays the way JK has always promised he’d implement. He can create his own chances, but more importantly he can set people up. He easily could have had 3 or 4 assists if people were crashing down on goal.

    You can say “bring him along slowly” until you’re blue in the face. I’ll take the best XI any day of the week, and that undoubtedly includes Pulisic.

    Like

  • fast right leg

    “Come on guys, let’s not overhype the kid. Remember what happened with Freddy Adu!”

    How ridiculous do you all sound, the people who were saying stuff like this, now? Two performances for BVB and you could see this kid had the ability to play with the best in the world. On the field with no less than 5 world class players in that yellow shirt and he looked like he belonged as much as any of them.

    For what its worth, we didn’t suffer terribly for his exclusion, but even back during the Copa America this kid was ready to play and be a major factor.

    When a player has it, you see it early. There’s a reason that the top academy systems in the world bring players in at 10 or younger and ship them out at 18. Those years are where you develop, and beyond that is just improving stamina, strength, and building confidence. Vision, instinct, creativity…these qualities surface very early and anyone who watched with a focused eye could see Pulisic has these qualities.

    I’m tired of the size argument being used against him, too. The world is ripe with footballers of small stature. It’s not a game for big lumbering oafs like Jozy. Sure those players have a role to play, but the best in the world are just as likely to come in small packages as they are in large ones. Even at his current size, with his “man strength” not yet on his frame, he can get stuck in and win a ball from a player bigger than him. Why? Because he has good FEET. Last I checked, this game was mostly played with the feet.

    Like

    • dalomismo

      I agree on the overcompensation regarding bringing a player along. The whole Adu thing in US Soccer’s psyche is ridiculous. One does need to minimize expectations, but not hold a player back either. Give him opportunities and let his play speak for itself- determine his level and place on the roster.

      ps: Lol cmon now…. 6-1 175 is a big lumbering oaf? Granted, Jozy is a pretty strong guy when motivated, but he is hardly the ginormous hulk he is so often portrayed as. cheers

      Like

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