Christian Pulisic’s return to the U.S. Men’s National Team comes at the end of an arduous year at Borussia Dortmund.
The combination of the tough season at Dortmund and the importance of bringing in young players to evaluate kept Pulisic away from the USMNT since the loss to Trinidad and Tobago in October.
USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan understand the plight of Pulisic and has nothing but help the midfielder through his club season by lightening his international load.
“Christian, he’s a very serious young pro,” Sarachan told reporters Wednesday. “He’s in a real bubble over there with Dortmund. I saw him play against Schalke in that environment and he was pretty gutted after that game. He’s been through a lot over the year personally. I know Christian’s a kid that there’s a lot of demands on a guy like him and he’s being pulled in different directions.
“I know there’s a lot going on and I’m trying to be helpful in the process and allow him a little wiggle room in terms of the national team now,” Sarachan said. “For instance, back in November I would’ve loved to have him in Portugal, but the circumstances were such that it wasn’t possible.
“The January camp wasn’t going to happen. The Paraguay game he was in the thick of things with Dortmund, but now with these games coming up, I’m hopeful,” Sarachan said. “He loves the national team and he’s, I think, champing at the bit to get it right. He’s just gotta get through his year and all the rest. I think he understands what his role is and will be with the national team”
Adding difficulty to the situation is Pulisic’s trip to Los Angeles with Dortmund for a postseason friendly against LAFC days before the USMNT’s friendly at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania against Bolivia.
“The plan is we’re going to have that conversation. He falls into the category of a long grind year and then Dortmund throws this postseason game on the group to come here,” Sarachan said. “The challenge will then be after he’s here, how we manage him to go back. It’s still working through that.”
Although Pulisic is already one of the best players in the USMNT talent pool, he’s willing to get better, and that’s something that stood out to Sarachan during his recent trip to Germany to talk to Pulisic, Weston McKennie and others.
“I think now that he’s been in it I think he’s got a pretty good understanding of what he needs because when I met with him the one thing he did say to me was he wants to continue to get better,” Sarachan said.
“We all think he’s good, but we being the inside technical people, now there’s areas he can improve and he knows that, which is a good thing,” Sarachan said.
There’s also the possibility this summer is a big one for Pulisic even without the World Cup, as he could move away from Dortmund.
Although no significant rumors have come about yet, there’s always a chance a player in his position takes the next step away from the German club.
“Wherever he goes, hes going to want good competition to be challenged and to be really coached and mentored,” Sarachan said.
“I think he’s a pretty sharp kid and understands what he’s about and what he needs. I’m sure he’s got a lot of people in his ear,” Sarachan said.
“What I would say to almost any player is the environment you’re going to has to challenge you, you have to be a part of it, you have to believe in the philosophy of that club and hopefully the manager trusts you. Managers change all the time and he’s had a bunch of different guys and that’s also a big challenge as well how every coach sees a player.”