All aboard the Christian Pulisic hype train! The 18-year-old American from Hershey, Pennsylvania, has gone from an under-17 prospect player for the United States national soccer team to becoming the next biggest name in American soccer. But the question on every American soccer fan’s mind is: will Christian Pulisic actually be the player we need to revitalize United States soccer or will the media and fans hype him up too much and become the next Freddy Adu?
To understand why Pulisic is such a big-name player for the United States national team, we have to look at his upbringing. He was born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to Mark and Kelly Pulisic on Sept. 18, 1998. Mark and Kelly both played soccer at George Mason University, and Mark was also a professional indoor soccer player in the late 1990s.
Growing up, Pulisic was around soccer all his life. In a recent Vice Sports interview, both Mark and Kelly Pulisic mentioned how as a young kid playing soccer, Pulisic would do things that most kids playing soccer would never even dare to try things such as bicycle kicks, step overs, and even making sure what he could do with his strong foot he could do with his weak foot.
He eventually got a call up to the United States national youth team where he shined in major tournaments, scoring many goals along the way. During a Nike international showcase tournament, Pulisic and the United States under-17 national team faced off against Brazil in the final. Pulisic had a stellar performance, scoring a goal and leading his under-17 team to victory. At this tournament, several scouts for big-name european clubs were present, trying to snatch up the next big young star.
Several big name clubs fought to offer Pulisic his first professional contract, and after much deliberation, Pulisic chose Borussia Dortmund, one of the top teams in Germany.
At first, Pulisic had trouble adapting to a new home and lifestyle in Dortmund, Germany. He trained with the youth team, and his father, Mark, took a job as a youth coach. He did not know the language, and he was getting very little playing time with the team, but through hard work and persistence, he got his chance with the youth team.
After finding his footing and scoring regularly with the youth team, manager Thomas Tuchel called Pulisic up to the first team. Ever since that first team call-up, it’s safe to say that 2016 has been an incredible year for Christian Pulisic.
In 2016 alone, he became the youngest non-german player to ever score in the Bundesliga (Germany’s top flight soccer league), and the youngest player to ever score two goals in a Bundesliga season. Later that year, Pulisic earned a call up to the United States Men’s National Team and scored in an international friendly match to become the youngest American player in American history to score for the United States National Team at age 17 years 253 days old. On Sept. 12, 2016, Pulisic became the youngest ever American soccer player to score in World Cup qualifying history at age 17 years 349 days.
Christian Pulisic has certainly provided hope for the future of the United States National Team and hundreds of American soccer fans. He looks like the real deal, the next Landon Donovan or Brian McBride, but in the back of every United States soccer fan’s mind, the question remains: Will Pulisic actually deliver and be the player the United States national team needs, or will the media overhype him, resulting in a fall of irrelevance in a few years?
Personally, I believe that Christian Pulisic will become the next big thing for American soccer. Unlike Freddy Adu or any of the other American soccer players that the media has overhyped over the years, Pulisic has actually gained much more success than any of the other young American prospects. He’s playing first team soccer for Borussia Dortmund, one of the most prolific teams in Germany’s top division, and it looks like he won’t be losing his starting spot any time soon.
Even former United States men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann saw how much potential Pulisic had and gave him a chance. He made the most of that chance and is now a creative team player who can not only score goals and make the most of his chances, but also create chances and assist goals as well.
Even though Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States national team parted ways recently, I have a good feeling that new manager Bruce Arena will be able to create Christian Pulisic into a world-class American player for years to come.
Luke Stergiou can be contacted at Lstergiou@kscequinox.com