Highly coveted wonderteen and future Ballon d’Or winner Christian Pulisic scored the first goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Lotte in the German Cup yesterday. The goal itself was fine, the product of Pulisic’s smart movement but mostly Ousmane Dembélé’s unreal skills. But check out Pulisic’s reaction after he slides the ball between the keeper’s legs for a glimpse into where his head is at right now.
Before that, remember: Pulisic is an 18-year-old kid who just a couple years ago was trundling down the hallways of Hershey High while dreading a final exam he’d have to take next period, and just a season ago became the youngest ever player to score two goals in the Bundesliga. In 2014 he was lugging his cleats back and forth from practice with the PA Classics, and in 2016 he was subject to rumors about the likes of Liverpool and Barcelona wanting to write him checks so that he’d store his boots in their hallowed locker rooms. This time two years ago, Pulisic, an unknown signing new to Germany, was trying his best to score and set up goals for the Dortmund U-17 team to hopefully make a name for himself, while a week ago he was dragging BVB into the next round of the Champions League.
All of that is to say, Christian Pulisic’s life has been absolutely insane. He has gone from nowhere to the very top of the sport in a flash. If I were in his shoes, I don’t know how I’d be able to function from moment to moment, at all times overjoyed and overawed by the meteoric journey, probably too giddy with the simple fact of being there to concentrate on actually doing well with the opportunity.
Pulisic, thankfully, is better than that. He knows how he got there, and he seems to know that he belongs. There is absolutely no fear, only desire to score and win and do great things.
All of this is evident in the video of that goal yesterday. You see it in his lung-busting run from deep all the way from one flank of the pitch to the other, so desperate he is to be the one to score the crucial first goal. You can see it in his motions to the crowd after scoring as he repeatedly thrusts his arms up to pump up the fans. You can see it in how he beckons his teammates over to the corner flag, in how he thumps his chest right as they arrive. It’s less Oh my god, I did it! and more Damn right, I just did that shit!
Pulisic is really feeling himself right now, and for all the right reasons. He deserves his place in this team, and just as importantly, he knows this. And it’s his response from going from southeastern Pennsylvania to western Germany, from U.S. Soccer’s developmental youth league to the Bundesliga, from scoring goals in front of a few dozen friends and family to doing it before the eyes of millions on international TV, that as much as anything has me so confident that, for as high as he’s climbed already, he won’t stop anytime soon.