Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic happy after U.S. senior team debut
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Christian Pulisic, the 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder, became the youngest American ever to appear in a World Cup qualifier when he came off the bench in the second half of Tuesday's 4-0 U.S. win over Guatemala.
Pulisic was supposed to join the American squad last week, but an illness delayed his arrival. The playmaker has made six appearances since January for the Bundesliga's second-place team. He's the eighth-youngest player ever to appear in Germany's top-flight.
"It's been a dream of mine to play for the U.S. national team," said the Hershey, Pennsylvania product, who was also eligible to play for Croatia but became cap-tied to the U.S. for the remainder of his career the second he entered the field. "It finally came true, so I'm thankful."
He said he was welcomed into the U.S. squad with open arms.
"It's amazing just to meet all these guys," he said. "They took me in right away, and it felt good to be part of the team and to get on the field."
Pulisic also tweeted to his fans afterward.
Truly blessed to make my #USMNT debut! Great win for the team! Let's go U23's!!����- Christian Pulisic (@cpulisic_10) March 30, 2016
Pulisic played the final nine minutes Tuesday after replacing Graham Zusi. It was enough time to impress his teammates.
"I thought he was great," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. "He was really comfortable already, especially for a 17-year-old. It's pretty impressive. It seems like he has a really good head on his shoulders. He's in a great place to keep learning and as you saw tonight, it looks like he's been in a bunch of times."
"He's a great player," added Clint Dempsey, who surpassed Landon Donovan on the all-time qualifying goals list when he scored the Americans' opener Tuesday. "He showed his confidence getting on the ball tonight."
Pulisic said he spoke to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann about potentially joining the U.S. U-23 squad for Tuesday's ultimately unsuccessful Olympic qualifying match against Colombia.
"We talked about it," Pulisic said. "But we felt that it was the best time to come in with the men's national team, and we decided to do it. It worked out."
Klinsmann tried to take the pressure off the youngster before inserting him.
"We prepared Christian to do it just the way he does it in his club team: don't over-think," Klinsmann said. "He was very calm, he was very balanced. I told him just do it like you do at Dortmund, have the same approach. And that's what he did."
Still, U.S. defender Geoff Cameron is among the many preaching patience despite Pulisic's obviously ability.
"He's a young kid, so you guys don't over-blow him up," the Premier League veteran joked with reporters. "Just let him do what he does, and he'll be a great talent for us."