The Rise of Christian Pulisic

Manas Sood, Sports Editor

A relatively unknown player until his breakthrough signing with Borussia Dortmund of the Bundesliga, Christian Pulisic is one of the brightest youth prospects for the United States. Pulisic, a native of nearby Hershey, Pennsylvania, grew up playing for U.S. Soccer Development Academy team PA Classics, where he was scouted and invited to join the U.S. Youth National Team program. After joining the under-17 Residency Program at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he was the youngest member of the squad, Pulisic capitalized on his success by signing a contract with Borussia Dortmund at the age of 16.

Pulisic quickly rose through the ranks, having been invited to train with the most competitive team after less than eight months. He impressed during Dortmund’s winter break, and went on to make his Bundesliga debut in January. Strong play for the German giants led to his first call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team in March, and over the course of the year the now 18-year-old winger became an integral figure for both club and country.

Pulisic struggled in Germany initially; he did not know the language and was unable to play in games because he did not have European citizenship at the time. He worked hard, however, to make sure he had the best chance of being spotted by the first team coaches, earning praise from Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel, who said of Pulisic: “He’s the kind of guy who’s very self-confident and showed his talent on the pitch and doesn’t show any nerves under pressure. That’s a wonderful combination.”

It did not get any easier for Pulisic, but a combination of nerves and determination helped him on his way to earning a regular starting spot. His father, Mark, added, “In the U.S. it’s very comfortable for players. If you’re successful as a young player, you’re told that a lot. But are players being taken out of their comfort zone? That’s how you improve. When you come to Germany and you’re training every day in January in the wind-driven rain and freezing cold, you’re fighting through that. You’re becoming stronger and better as a player.”

All of this has contributed to Pulisic’s success, as he was awarded a new deal which keeps him at Dortmund until 2020.

Pulisic has taken advantage of his peculiar position as one of the brightest American prospects in recent history. Youth players from the U.S. rarely get the opportunity to play in Europe, yet Pulisic defied these odds and solidified his role as an impressive player. He collected U.S. Soccer’s 2016 Young Male Player of the Year award, became the youngest MNT player to appear, start, and score in a World Cup qualifier. In the process, he became the MNT’s all-time youngest goal scorer. Pulisic has represented the United States well, and his success and achievements are prime examples of what he has accomplished.