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Sarachan ready to welcome Pulisic back to USMNT after long club season


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.”


  1. Every time I see the name Sarachan, it makes me shudder. Not that I even know what he’s like as a coach, but just for the fact that he was a lightweight Bruce Arena flunkie.

    • He also coached the Chicago Fire to some respectable seasons, a Supporter’s Shield and two US open Cups in 4-1/2 seasons.

      He may not be Sir Alex but he likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here. (Unless someone like Jose Mourhino is posting under a pseudonym. ;<) )

      • “He may not be Sir Alex but he likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here.”

        Sarachan – likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here
        Klinsmann – likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here
        Bruce Arena – likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here
        Freddy Adu – likely knows much more about professional soccer than anyone posting here

        Yet they all have been criticized in depth. So that means nobody should have an opinion here or point of view (unless you are Mourhino, Pep Guardiola or Zidane). still trying to figure out your logic

      • Biz: If Don had said “I’ve followed him throughout his career and he has no tactical awareness” or something related to his actual ability you’d have a point. But Don said I don’t know anything about him but he’s associated with Arena (who you touted for nine months as the second coming of Pep Guardiola) so I don’t like him. Not judging players on their merits but their reputations is exactly what you and Joe Dirt have been complaining about since October don’t do the same to Sarachan.

    • bizzy, No it is all good sport to criticise coaches’ decisions. And how coaches handle the human relationships is part of that.

      But to think that you, I or any poster here has all the information the coaches are privy to and or spent more time considering how to balance the conflicting bits of information and demands of the job is just silly.

      • Meh 1. The audience doesn’t know Wade Barrett is carrying a calf strain when he plays the NYRB in the playoffs for Houston a few years back. The coach knows it and starts him anyway, NYRB storms up his flank and we lose. Superior knowledge = superior decision? Not necessarily.

        Meh 2. Coaches get other weird system or selection ideas in their head that are bluntly so obvious and goofy that someone with soccer IQ can pick up on them and criticize.

        Meh 3: There is a such thing as a “gamer” and the primary question to me is how players play in the shirt, which I see as much as the coach does. People backing practice players (“the coach must have seen something, and you’re not there”) tend to amuse me because everyone and their dog sees how the games go, and if a guy can’t do it in games what do I care.

        Meh 4: I don’t necessarily buy coaches are, or act, smarter than all of us. Some are. Some aren’t. Along those lines, Sarachan, while a loyal Arena retainer, has had two head jobs I can think of, Cornell, where he made the NCAAs twice in 8 years (while Bradley made the final four with Princeton, and Arena and Schmid racked up titles); and the Fire, where he fell off from Bradley’s success as the talent eroded.

      • What I look for is does the coach make the right decisions with personnel, does he “get it,” and does he show special ability to get which sub and tactical buttons to push to change how a game is going. That is what separates SAF from Sarachan, who doesn’t even know he’s supposed to be getting a lot of his team on the field with subs in an early cycle friendly.

    • Sports require decision making, and in soccer decisions have to be made in real time. So while in theory great coaches and players understand things better, they aren’t given endless hours to decide or execute. It may be more like a minute to pick up on an injury and yank a player before he costs a goal, that perhaps decides the game. Or, a team can objectively be in a huge 2-0 hole, that his players dug, but a good coach can dig out, and a poor one flails about. It’s an art, not a science, and one coach’s insurmountable deficit is another’s challenge. To just blow it off as all the same and they all know better is to eradicate distinctions between great, good, ok, poor, and to pretend like coaches don’t have weird player affections, or spur of the moment decisions to make that can be gotten wrong.


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