Christian Pulisic Continues to Raise the Bar Overseas
March 09, 2017
LAST NIGHT IN GERMANY Christian Pulisic put on one of the all-time greatest performances by an American player at the club level when he scored and assisted for Borussia Dortmund in a 4-0 win over Benfica to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Entering the game, Borussia Dortmund needed to overcome a 1-0 loss in the first round to advance. Pulisic, 18, had been mostly coming off the bench since the winter break but after a strong outing on Saturday, when he scored a goal and an assist off the bench against Bayer Leverkusen, Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel decided to put the American teenager back into the starting XI.
It paid off almost immediately as Pulisic assisted on the game’s opening goal with an accurate flick-on header which found Pierre Aubameyang on the back post. leveling the aggregate score at one.
Throughout the game, Pulisic was dangerous and that paid off in the 59th minute when Pulisic put Dortmund up 2-0 (and 2-1 in the series) with a sophisticated finish off a smart run.
From there, the flood gates would open and Dortmund won the game 4-0 (4-1 on aggregate). Pulisic played a huge role in equalizing the series and scoring the eventual winner.
It is hard to put into words just how impressive this is and it really is unprecedented in the history of American players in Europe.
How many Americans have had this level of impact? None at this age. DaMarcus Beasley came close at PSV Eindhoven in 2004-2005 when he became the first American to appear in the UEFA Champions League semifinal, scoring four goals in 12 goals for the Dutch club. Jovan Kirvoski won the Champions League with Dortmund although he was predominantly a bench player and did not play in the final.
Some foreign-born Americans who achieved impressive feats. Jermaine Jones scored in the knockout stages of the Champions League for Schalke. Thomas Dooley was a regular starter for Kaiserslautern when it won the Bundesliga.
At just 18, Pulisic continues to break through boundaries. Even when he has an off game, he bounces back quickly and does not sit on the bench for long periods of time. Even today, Pulisic started this game with German international Andre Schurrle on the bench. It is something very unique to watch and the season is far from over. The sky is the limit.
Cameron helps post impressive shutout
Normally, a defensive-minded American player who helps his team keep a clean sheet against Manchester City in an away Premier League game would be a top story. But thanks to Pulisic, Geoff Cameron’s day for Stoke City is an afterthought.
It is understandable but it is worth pointing out that Cameron is back from a long-injury (making his first start over the weekend in a win) and is playing quite well in the defensive midfield. Against Manchester City, Cameron was effective both defensively and with the ball in the midfield.
Bruce Arena indicated that he sees Cameron as a defender in an online forum on Wednesday but the mere fact that Cameron is on the field at this point bodes well. With his experience, moving to the backline should be easy.