With all the hype surrounding the newest crop of USMNT youngsters, perhaps one of the brightest young talents is none other than Borussia Dortmunds Christian Pulisic. Brought into the club in January of 2015, he has exploded onto the first team scene in his short time with BVB.
The 17-year-old Hershey Pennsylvania native received an invitation from manager Thomas Tuchel to join the first squad in training over the winter break. Pulisic saw pitch time in two fixtures in the winter pre-season and scored one goal and assisted in another. His performances were enough to convince the manager of the second place Bundesliga squad to make Pulisic a permanent first team option. Since then he has shown exactly why he’s quickly becoming a household name amongst Dortmund fans.
Pulisic is a player that, upon watching, one would never know is in his first six months of playing first team European football. He possesses the attacking intelligence one would expect from a much more seasoned player and has quickly integrated into Tuchel’s system.
Playing in an attacking wing role with the ability to play on either side, the speedy American frequently displays his quality both on and off of the ball. His pace, dribbling and ball control are developed enough to consistently beat defenders in one on one attacking situation and create scoring chances. His combination play with the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan demonstrate his ability to move the ball effectively and get to open space, ready to receive a return pass.
In addition to these skills, Pulisic also has a tremendous feel for taking an effective first touch on the ball, often setting up his next pass. He rarely turns the ball over in the attacking half (less than once a game) and has a knack for getting to the corner flag and putting balls into the box, often setting up corners for his side.
These qualities were most on display during his first Bundesliga goal, opening the scoring in a 3-0 win vs Hamburg on April 17. Playing a corner kick in short along the sideline to Kagawa, Pulisic came around behind and made a diagonal sprint from the corner of the box inward toward the goal, splitting two defenders. Kagawa played the ball to Hummels at the top of the box with Pulisic finding some space just inside. Hummels then played a brilliant one touch pass to Pulisic who took a first touch on the outside of his right foot to catch the defender off balance then with his second touch fired the ball just inside the near post beating the keeper.
Pulisic has already seen pitch time with the USMNT seniors, becoming the youngest ever player to debut for the American senior squad. He was subbed in for Zusi in the 81st minute during the World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala in Ohio and was on the pitch for Altidore’s goal, all the while looking comfortable and eager to impress.
Looking forward, he has potential to be a brilliant addition to an already exciting future that includes Zardes, Zelalem, Wood, Johannsson and Green. Let’s be cautiously excited about this youngster, as he still has some time to go in his development before he can be a regular starter with the USMNT, but it’s clear he is in the right system and has tremendous potential to become an important piece in the future of the yanks attack.