It wasn’t even two whole weeks ago that Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel sought to keep the hype flames being stoked by eager Christian Pulisic fans under control. Sure, it’s neat that Pulisic has done well with the USMNT, I guess, Tuchel basically said. But let’s be real: he was doing it against nobodies. He’s not going to be a starter for us off the strength of a couple goals against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Wonderteen has responded to those attempts to douse expectations by bursting into a fireball.
For Borussia Dortmund’s first match after Tuchel’s tempering words, Pulisic was named in BVB’s matchday squad but did not make it off the bench. In a possibly related matter, BVB lost to newly promoted Leipzig 1-0.
Tuchel has since started Pulisic in all three of Dortmund’s subsequent matches. The results: a 6-0 Champions League win against Legia Warsaw; a 6-0 Bundesliga win against Darmstadt; and a 5-1 league win over Wolfsburg yesterday. In those three matches, Pulisic has contributed three assists and a goal, because, at barely 18 years of age, he’s already a goddamn monster.
Pulisic’s best game was the Darmstadt thrashing. There he racked up two assists and a goal, and showed off his versatility by tearing shit up on both wings:
Tuchel or a like-minded worrywart might try to spin these performances as not that impressive. Legia Warsaw are arguably the worst team in the entire Champions League group stage, and Darmstadt aren’t anybody’s exemplar of German soccer greatness. But more important than the specific opponents, and even more important than the passes and dribbles and goals and assists, is the simple fact that this teenager, who less than a week ago couldn’t buy a pack of cigarettes for himself, is a bonafide contributor to a Champions League, Bundesliga title-contending team.
Pulisic isn’t a surefire starter for BVB, and isn’t even their most promising teen sensation (that status is definitely and deservedly held by Ousmane Dembélé, who is unreal). But what he is doing already by earning minutes in a club with such attacking riches, and rewarding the faith shown in him by making a difference on the pitch, is more than enough to justify the excitement. This is the kind of stuff that would get Germans excited about a player’s prospects if he was one of theirs. That we as Americans are experiencing it for the first time...well, it’s going to take a lot to snuff out this spark.