Has the US found a phenom?
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.” –
Gareth Bale scores his team’s fourth goal during the World Cup 2018 football qualification match between Wales and Moldova on September 5.
Christian Pulisic (right), just 17 years old, has scored three goals in seven caps for the United States. Fans are clamouring for more.