USA's Christian Pulisic (pictured) has two goals and two assists in two qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, Florida – He is only 17-year-old, but Christian Pulisic has already made as large an impact on the United States as any teenager in the program’s history.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder served notice to the world with scintillating performances in the last pair of fourth-round CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
He came off the bench in Friday’s 6-0 victory at St. Vincent & the Grenadines to score two goals and assist on another.
In his first U.S. start on Tuesday, Pulisic didn't find the back of the net in the 4-0 triumph over visiting Trinidad & Tobago, but was the attack’s driving force in a match that clinched a spot in the Hexagonal and the Group C title. He was credited with an assist on Jozy Altidore's second goal in the 62nd minute.
"He’s dynamic," Trinidad & Tobago head coach Stephen Hart remarked. "He can go inside and outside of the player. The goal he set up was a good example. He dragged the defender inside, then went on the outside of him and played a beautiful ball to the back post."
U.S. veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard has seen many players with great potential come and go during his 15-year international career, but he was impressed with Pulisic.
“It’s always hard when you have kids who are supremely talented, because you don’t want to put the weight of the world on their shoulders,” commented the Colorado Rapids custodian. “I don’t know what it’s like to have that much confidence at that age. It’s incredible. It reminds me a little of the other guy who used to wear No. 10.”
Howard was referring to Landon Donovan, considered by many to be the best American player ever. Donovan retired as the national team's all-time leader with 57 goals and 58 assists.
That's lofty company. Pulisic, who scored one goal in three appearances at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, has seen his star rise in the German Bundesliga and now with the full national team.
"The performance was wonderful to watch," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann concluded. "I don't want to give him too many compliments. I want to keep him down on the ground."
Right now, the sky seems to be the limit for Pulisic.