Midfielder Christian Pulisic (pictured) has scored three goals during the USA's qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, California -- It may be a bit premature to compare Christian Pulisic to United States soccer legend Landon Donovan, although the 18-year-old put his best foot forward Friday.
Pulisic scored one goal and set up two others in the 6-0 World Cup Qualifying triumph over visiting Honduras, which lifted the Americans (1W-0D-2L, 3 points) from last to fourth place.
“He does remind [me] of Landon, but he has a long way to go before he gets to stand next to Landon,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “Christian is just starting and we don’t know what it’s going to look like 10 years down the road.”
Donovan, who retired with a U.S. record 57 goals and 58 assists in 157 appearances, admitted he was impressed, commenting: “I just think he’s so much further ahead than I was or than any of us were at that age.”
Pulisic said that Donovan "is an idol of mine. It is obviously an honor, but I’m my own player as well. So, I’m just trying to do it for me."
And for his team.
At Avaya Stadium, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder demonstrated a maturity that belied his years, causing havoc with pin-point passes that set-up teammates for scoring opportunities. Two found Clint Dempsey, who netted a hat-trick.
“Man, he’s a great player,” remarked Dempsey. “He can beat people one-on-one on the dribble. He creates mismatches because of that. Someone else has to kind of push to him, and if you’re able to make good runs he’ll find you. It’s great to have players like that, that can win that 1v1 battle and break teams open.”
The U.S. visits third-place Panama (1W-1D-1L, 4) on Tuesday.
“Panama is another good team, a good CONCACAF team,” finished Pulisic. “We’re just going to have to come out and we’re just going to have to come out with the same intensity and fire that we did today. If we do that, I think we shouldn’t have a problem.”