[OP-ED]: Christian Pulisic: German Cup Champion
I still remember it very well. It happened in Dortmund on the last Tuesday of September, during the typical Champions League night in which Borussia hosted defending champion Real Madrid. Christian Pulisic was amazing. He came from the bench with only 17 minutes remaining, replacing Ousmane Dembélé’s, and turned things around 180 degrees.
The visitors were already eying a victory thanks to a goal by Raphaël Varane that put them ahead, 2-1, but the genius of the young player who was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, overwhelmed the team coached by Zinedine Zidane. A phenomenal play by the American, assisting German striker André Schürle tied the game at 2 with three minutes to play. Acting differently than in most of its game powerhouse Real Madrid started looking at the clock anxiously and felt relieved when the referee blew the final whistle, being thankful for earning a point on German soil.
Many people were shocked by Pulisic’s explosion under the Champions League spotlight, which is always brighter when Real Madrid plays. Anyway, those who had followed closer the player from Pennsylvania, the brightest American soccer talent ever were not caught by surprise. Pulisic, who was born on September the 18th of 1998, established all the scoring records for a rising star, and not only with his country but also as a member of his club in a tough competition like the Bundesliga, in which he became the youngest non-German to register a goal, scoring against Hamburg on April 2016 at age 17. A month later, facing Bolivia, he also became the youngest American to score with the United States top National Team. Sixteen days before turning 18, Pulisic set another mark by becoming the youngest player to tally a goal in a World Cup qualifier. In a game in which Team USA crashed Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 6-0, the young star recorded two goals.
Pulisic’s talent is enormous. He has great speed and uses his lower body to dribble with the ball very close to his feet, making opponents almost impossible to take the ball away from him. His remarkable soccer IQ has also been one of the reasons for his fast irruption. Anyway, the player has been at the right place at the right time. Amongst Europe’s strongest clubs no one manages young talent better than Borussia Dortmund. Pulisic was signed to the team’s Academy on February of 2015 and was promoted to the first squad after playing only 15 games with German development teams, making his Bundesliga debut in January of 2016.
Despite many of their young stars are signed by clubs with more financial power, like Bayern Munich or English Manchester United, Borussia has managed to remain at the summit of European soccer thanks to a non-stop task of developing young talents. This season, Dortmund reached the Champions League quarterfinals, where the German club was eliminated by Monaco. It also qualified for its country’s Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt. The championship game took place last Saturday at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. When the score was tied at 1, Pulisic replaced German star Marco Reus at halftime. With the US player on the field, Borussia delivered the winning goal in the second period, claiming the Cup with a 2-1 score.
When I saw Pulisic lifting the trophy I asked my self: “What can be the limit for this great player that has not turned 19 yet?”
We will probably have the answer in Russia’s 2018 World Cup in which the young star should be amongst the referent players for Team USA.