If you haven’t heard yet, Christian Pulisic is America’s best young footballer. And if you hadn’t heard before last night’s 6-0 win over Honduras you know now.
Admittedly, this is a hot take straight from the Papa Murphy take and bake oven but just four minutes into an important international, Pulisic asserted his quality. Dribbling through the Honduras defense, Pulisic lost the ball, but Jozy Altidore was there to help out, he collected, and played a neat chip to Pulisic. Christian collected a tough pass with his first touch and took a shot that Escober could only parry to his left. Sebastien Lletget was at the far post for the tap-in and USA was off to a great start.
Michael Bradley added a second goal when Honduras fell asleep. Hitting a soft, long-range shot that crossed the keeper and found the corner.
But it was Pulisic who stole the show. He was slicker than cat slobber all night and slipped past the entire Honduras midfield time and again. And his deft touches left even seasoned professionals like Maynor Figueroa gawping in awe.
Pulisic chipped over the Honduras defense for the USA third goal, a moon chip to Dempsey taken in stride as the defenders collapsed on him. The American expression of Soccer tends to be about power and strength, Dempsey epitomized that when he held off Henry Figueroa to score the goal. But in the midst of these older, bigger men, who roam the pitch putting themselves about physically, here was an 18 year old with exquisite touch and vision, playing the beautiful game.
Just seconds after the kickoff to the second half, Pulisic added a fourth goal for USA when he was played in by Altidore. And three minutes later, Altidore collected wide and passed to Pulisic. He took one touch and played a luxurious through ball to Dempsey, who rounded the keeper and scored the fifth. Dempsey added a 6th from a free kick, sealing his own name in the headlines as the hat trick hero. But this match wasn’t about Dempsey, who because of this hat trick will probably now play for the Sounders until he’s a bag of dry bones, this match was about a changing of the guard.
Pulisic plays for Borussia Dortmund and under the tutelage of Thomas Tuchel is receiving a first class football education. I saw him play in a friendly for the USA as a 16 year old, before signing for Dortmund, and you could tell that the raw talent was there. But Tuchel has helped to refine Pulisic and it showed last night when he took over an important World Cup qualifier and launched team USA into pole position in the Hexagonal.
Tuchel has been conservative with the teenager, starting him in fits throughout the season and giving him time to adapt and grow. That patience has paid off as Pulisic has scored three goals and provided two assists for Dortmund in his last five matches. Those performances include back to back man of the match performances against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga and Benfica in the Champions League. Add to that the goal and two assists for USA last night and Pulisic is clearly in a streak of top form.
Pulisic could have added more, his cross for Altidore in the 80th minute was put on a plate, but Al couldn’t control and the match ended with just 6 goals in USA’s favor, four of those goals either directly or indirectly coming from an 18 year old. The future of football in America.