Christian Pulisic: The Hope of a Nation

Alex Perl | July 11th, 2019

Soccer is technically the most popular sport in the world, popular in almost every country perhaps, America maybe not so much. With the rise of soccer in video gaming (FIFA for example) over the last 10 years or so, the sport is gradually building a larger and steadier fan base in the states. With that being said, while more and more Americans don Messi and Ronaldo jerseys, one thing we have been deprived of is an American star. We have had some occasional flash in the pan stars like Tim Howard at the 2014 World Cup, or Landon Donovan, but never anyone to guarantee the sport is taking off here. That is until the arrival of one young American arrived in Germany, that man is Christian Mate Pulisic.

Pulisic was born in 1998 in Hershey, Pennsylvania to parents who both played soccer in college. His father even playing professionally for an indoor soccer team. Soccer was in the blood of Pulisic, he had lived in England for a year at the age of seven, and had played for the youth team of Brackley Town. He would later spend a year in Michigan playing for the Michigan Rush, before returning to his home roots of Hershey. Here Pulisic would play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, and play for the club PA Classics. Pulisic would later go on to play for the United States U15 squad as well as the U17 squad. With the U17 squad, this is when the world would take notice. His dominating performances would lead to recognition from clubs across the world. At the age of 16, he signed for club Borussia Dortmund, a club that was in the top tier of German soccer. With the signing, it was not just a big move for Pulisic, but a huge move for the entire country of America.

Pulisic arrived with much fanfare and hype. It’s not every day an American arrives in Germany, let alone a 16-year-old American. He signed in February 2015 and was assigned to the U17 squad. By summer that year he was already promoted to the U19 squad. With his dominating performances, the teenage sensation was called up to play for the senior squad over the winter break in the season. Pulisic’s game time was increasing evermore with each passing game, which eventually led to him scoring his first senior league goal at the age of only 17. His goal would make him the youngest non-German to ever score in a Bundesliga game, as well as the fourth overall youngest of all time. By April he would add a brace vs club VfB Stuttgart, making him the youngest ever player to score two goals in the top flight of German soccer. The kid was arriving and now the hype was seemingly justified.

With the hype, of course, would come whispers and rumors. Pulisic being an American, it was only fitting that most of the rumors would be a projected move to the English Premier League. Although a dynamic and top tier league just like the Bundesliga, this was obviously an attractive destination considering the primary language spoken in England is the same first language that Pulisic spoke in America. With the amazing performances and records, Pulisic would continue to break, which included being the youngest Dortmund player to ever play in the UEFA Champions League, the fanfare was reaching a hype in America, that had not been seen since Tim Howard’s dominating performance in the World Cup. Children all over America, as well as Athletes of other sports,  would be seen donning Pulisic US Jerseys as well as his club jersey. Lebron James had even been pictured in a Pulisic jersey. His performances continued to dazzle and Dortmund with their club built on youth and promise were having a hard time holding on to their American star.

Finally, in 2019, the rumors had ended. Dortmund had agreed in January to sell Pulisic for 64 million euros ($73 million dollars in American currency) To English club Chelsea F.C. The club considered one of the best in not just England, but the world over. Having a large fan base in not just England, but the world. The move had come with criticism, Pulisic a winger, was going to a team that despite the rumors of star winger Eden Hazard possibly on the move as well, were pretty loaded at the position. The move was seen by many pundits as a move to boost interest and revenue within the American audience. This could have been true, but no matter the circumstances, the move was not only a huge for Chelsea but America as well. Pulisic would end up being loaned back to Dortmund to spend the rest of the season, but despite this the world had been shaken, Pulisic was not the first American to be welcomed to the top tier of English football, many Americans had plied their trade in the league but not with this sort of fanfare and excitement.

With the 2019-2020 season on the horizon, Pulisic has already said his goodbyes to Dortmund and the German fans, he has embraced his role as a somewhat ambassador for American soccer and is the undoubted star and leader for the American national team. He has taken the role in stride and seems to be proud and anxious even to bring the sport more spotlight in his country. He was quoted as stating “Of course I always dream big, but I don’t put a plan out for myself.” With the way he has taken off and the hopes and big dreams of an entire country behind him, Pulisic may not have a plan in mind, but the plan is simple, this country needs an American star to feed off of to bring the sport the recognition it desperately craves. Rather he is ready or not, this upcoming season in England will not be viewed just by the English but an entire nation back home in America.

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