Has the US found a phe­nom?

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

UNITED States coach Jur­gen Klins­mann has called for pa­tience as the clam­our for ris­ing star Chris­tian Pulisic to be given a start­ing berth reaches fever pitch. Borus­sia Dort­mund teenager Pulisic pro­duced a sparkling two-goal cameo last Fri­day as the USA de­mol­ished St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines 6-0 in Kingstown.

The re­sult left the US need­ing only a draw against Trinidad and Tobago in Jack­sonville, Florida yes­ter­day to be sure of pro­gress­ing to the fi­nal round of CONCACAF qual­i­fiers for the 2018 World Cup.

How­ever a mas­sive ad­van­tage over Gu­atemala on goal dif­fer­ence means the USA could prob­a­bly af­ford to lose (note: game not yet played at press time) and still ad­vance along­side Trinidad, who have al­ready as­sured them­selves of qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

That healthy goal dif­fer­ence has left Klins­mann with room to ex­per­i­ment with his line-up – and fu­elled hope that the 17-year-old Pulisic may start.

Pulisic, who has now scored three goals in seven ap­pear­ances for the USA since mak­ing his de­but ear­lier this year, is widely re­garded as one of the bright­est tal­ents in Amer­i­can soc­cer for years.

English side Liver­pool are re­port­edly cir­cling the young­ster, who be­came the youngest-ever player to score for the USA when he net­ted on his third in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance against Bo­livia in May.

But while ap­plaud­ing the young­ster’s form, Klins­mann em­pha­sised that the at­tack­ing mid­fielder would be de­vel­oped grad­u­ally, hint­ing that he may have to wait longer to be named in the start­ing line-up.

“Chris­tian came in against St. Vin­cent and did a fan­tas­tic job. He kind of re­ally made it look all easy,” Klins­mann said dur­ing a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion on Face­book.

“Ob­vi­ously we know he has tremen­dous tal­ent and that’s why he’s with Borus­sia Dort­mund. We’re go­ing to build him one step at a time,” the Ger­man World Cup win­ner added.

“A lot of peo­ple are anx­ious that we start him from the be­gin­ning. That day will come – there is no doubt about it.

“But for us it’s im­por­tant that we build him with pa­tience, with not too much hype and ex­pec­ta­tion ei­ther.

“We are thrilled that he’s grow­ing and that he’s get­ting more ma­ture. We’ll take it one step at a time.”

Klins­mann had said he would not con­firm his start­ing line-up un­til shortly be­fore kick-off yese­ter­day.

While Pulisic may have to wait for a start, Klins­mann did con­firm that vet­eran goal­keeper Tim Howard would re­turn for what was his 110th cap.

It was to be Howard’s record 32nd ap­pear­ance in a World Cup qual­i­fier for the USA, sur­pass­ing Kasey Keller’s haul of 31 amassed be­tween 1996 and 2005.

Klins­mann mean­while said there is no ques­tion of the USA play­ing for a draw as they aim to wrap up qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“On pa­per it looks easy. One point would be enough. We have a good goal dif­fer­ence,” he said. “But I’ve tried to make it very clear to the play­ers that this is still a big game for us. It’s a World Cup qual­i­fier so we can’t take it lightly.

“We only need one point but we would love to win this game so we can fin­ish first in our group.” –

Photo: AFP

Gareth Bale scores his team’s fourth goal dur­ing the World Cup 2018 foot­ball qual­i­fi­ca­tion match be­tween Wales and Moldova on Septem­ber 5.

Photo: EPA

Chris­tian Pulisic (right), just 17 years old, has scored three goals in seven caps for the United States. Fans are clam­our­ing for more.

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