Christian Pulisic Represents a New Level for American Soccer Players
Christian Pulisic is the first American soccer player to be starting at an attacking position for a top European club team. That already makes him different than other top American soccer players in the past.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder from Pennsylvania Pulisic is not only technically-skilled enough to play for a club like Borussia Dortmund, but he also has electric speed, creativity, coolness under pressure, and great vision. Just for clarification, Borussia Dortmund is one of the top German club teams in the Bundesliga, which is a league that is much better than say the English Premier League in terms of overall skill and quality of play.
Pulisic has mostly featured as wing for Dortmund, but he has played centrally as a playmaker, which is where United States coach Bruce Arena started playing him several games ago. Using Pulisic as a Number 10 opened up the American attack making it more dangerous, and it also allowed Clint Dempsey to have a playmaker playing behind him that could actually feed him the ball in scoring positions and play on his level. The U.S. National Team has had the problem where Dempsey and Landon Donovan were much better than all of their teammates, but now Dempsey has an attacking player player playing with him who seems even better than Donovan. It could even be said that Pulisic is a better passer and assist man than Donovan, as Pulisic has displayed more creativity and trickery than Donovan who didn’t used to attempt the kind of bold and audacious passes that Pulisic has routinely been pulling off without any hesitation.
While the players on the national team are much better than in years past, Pulisic has been a revelation for the team not only for his playmaking and ability to set up Dempsey but also for his own scoring ability. Pulisic is clinical in front of goal and he doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger with either foot. Based on the type of skill and movement that Bobby Wood and Pulisic have shown in the attack, it’s fair to say that the United States is a more skilled and creative team than it was in the past, and Pulisic is the orchestrator and driving force of the United States now. Dempsey is still likely the best player, but Pulisic is the key to creating more opportunities for Dempsey and the teams other forwards.
When you watch Pulisic play for the United States, what you see is a player who plays with the combination of skill and speed need to beat defenders, and the U.S. didn’t used to have that. Donovan was skilled and fast, but it wasn’t at the same level as Pulisic, plus Donovan was also not quite as aggressive and direct against top competition. Dempsey was and is very technically-skilled and quick, but he lacks the extra gear of speed and quickness that Pulisic uses to blow past defenders.