Christian Pulisic is a brilliant talent with confidence flowing out of every ounce of his body.
The 18-year-old has also never stepped foot into the cauldron that is the Estadio Azteca.
Fresh off his two-goal performance in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday, Pulisic made a bold declaration in his postgame interview with Fox Sports 1.
“It’s going to be a tough one down there in Mexico especially,” Pulisic said, “but we really want some revenge on them for when they got us earlier so we’re really confident going into that game. We’re going to come out with a win there too.”
Pulisic went full Joe Namath and said on national television and claimed the USMNT would come out of Azteca with three points. Not a hard-fought draw that would be celebrated like a win in the United States, an actual victory.
You do have to take these comments into context because Pulisic was still high on adrenaline after his terrific performance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and with the win over T&T, the Americans have the ability to show no fear in Mexico City and possible back up Pulisic’s boldness.
However, the harsh reality is that Pulisic already had a target on his back before these comments. Once the Mexican players get word of it, and trust me it will happen fast, the target will grow on the back of the fearless teenager. Pulisic was already going to be the victim of a few harsh tackles on behalf of the top team in CONCACAF, so a few more with some extra bite won’t hurt, right?
There’s no doubt Pulisic gave Mexico, a team that needs no extra motivation to get up for a game with the United States, bulletin board material for Sunday, and there’s a decent chance the 18-year-old phenom could be shut out during his time on the field.
But Pulisic’s comments could also be a rallying cry for a team that has the luxury of showing no fear and earning revenge since it now sits in a comfortable position in the Hex. Clint Dempsey only played 60 minutes on Thursday in a poor performance, one he’ll absolutely try to make up for on Sunday, and if he and Pulisic combine well early on in the match, you never know what may happen.
Pulisic also hit on what we assume would be one of Bruce Arena’s rallying cries anyway. The US was beaten by Mexico in its home fortress of Columbus on November 11 to open the Hex. None of the current American players have gone into Mexico City after losing at home to El Tri. There’s no question the veterans like Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard will get the squad prepared to earn revenge, but not many people expected Pulisic to take leadership of the conquest of Azteca.
Even if the USMNT fails to pull a result out of Mexico City on Sunday night, Pulisic’s comments from Thursday night taught us something about him. No matter how young he may be, he’s not afraid to get up and motivate the team. If he continues to convey messages like that throughout his career, Pulisic may not only go down as one of the best players in American history, but one of the best leaders and motivators as well.