Christian Pulisic seems always to be a step ahead of everyone on the field. (Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Even Christian Pulisic’s teammates know they are watching a show when the 18-year-old is on the field.
“He’s a great talent,” concluded defender-midfielder Fabian Johnson, who performs for Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga, where the teenager plays. “I think he’s a multi-talented player. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with Christian.”
The Americans hope Pulisic, the son of former Centereach, N.Y. native Mark Pulisic, will have some fun Thursday night when the U.S. hosts Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifier at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colo.
When he took over the reins as national coach, Bruce Arena was a bit wary of what a teenager could accomplish. But Pulisic has won over the U.S. boss.
“He’s stronger physically, mentally [than he was six months ago]. The young ones make more improvement,” he told reporters in Colorado earlier this week. “I don’t think [DaMarcus] Beasley and [Clint] Dempsey are going to get much better in six months.”
Arena said that Pulisic was “a very gifted athlete. He’s very technically talented in his sport, he’s got a real good mentality, and when you piece those three things together, there’s a chance you’re going to be good.”
Moreover, Arena compared Pulisic to Dempsey, who needs one goal to tie Landon Donovan’s U.S. international record of 57 tallies.
“Clint has a certain quality and certain mentality that makes him good,” he said. “Christian has all of that and maybe even a little bit more. He’s a special talent, but at the same time, as we often say with younger players, you’ve got to give him time, like a Clint Dempsey has or a Landon Donovan. Having said that, I would not be surprised if he’s able to do that.”
Pulisic, who plays for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, has been a part of all eight goals the U.S. has scored in the last three games. He has five international goals, but that total is expected to grow over the next several months and years if Pulisic continues on his track.
“I was comfortable with the team right away,” Pulisic said. “Everyone asks me questions about my age, but it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re all at the same level.”
Well, one player just might be better than the rest.
And the scary thing is that he is only 18-years-old, still learning and is likely to get even better.
We’ll see what magic Pulisic can conjure up against the Soca Warriors Thursday night.