Christian Pulisic gave the Chicago fans what they wanted.
The 19-year-old attacker from Hershey, Pennsylvania, drew the first-half penalty that led to the lone goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 win Friday over Manchester City. In front of an announced crowd of 34,629 at Soldier Field, Pulisic was arguably the most noticeable player on the field during his 45 minutes of action, and looked every bit worthy of the hopes the U.S. soccer community has pinned on him.
“It felt great. I felt good today right from the start,” Pulisic said. “I love having those actions early in the game where I can go at defenders. I felt really confident today and I was glad I could help my team.”
It’s that kind of impact that has some of the biggest teams in England monitoring his availability, and fans back in the States believing he’s the answer to the national team’s problems. After all, LeBron James isn’t usually photographed wearing somebody else’s jersey, like he was with Pulisic.
Asked about that, Pulisic sounded more like a 19-year-old kid than one of the elite young talents in world soccer.
“It was unbelievable for me. He’s one of my favorite athletes,” Pulisic said. “To see him wearing my jersey is pretty cool, as you could imagine.”
That’s just the latest cool thing to happen for Pulisic, whose profile only figures to rise as his career moves forward. For him to reach his prodigious potential, that’s something he will have to reconcile and deal with.
So far so good, but it seems like something he just does naturally.
“I don’t, really. I don’t know. I just kind of go with the flow,” Pulisic said. “Everything’s going fast, but it’s been a pretty crazy ride. I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
The fans in attendance certainly enjoyed Pulisic’s performance on a night when most of Premier League champion Manchester City’s stars were absent because of the World Cup. For better or for worse, that wasn’t an issue for Pulisic as the U.S. national team failed spectacularly last year in its quest to qualify for the tournament.
Thanks to the U.S. missing out on Russia, Dortmund has the face of its American tour, and will leave Chicago and go into matches in Charlotte and Pittsburgh with Pulisic front and center.
“It’s great. It’s been a lot of fun,” Pulisic said. “Being able to play in the U.S., especially with Dortmund, is really special for me. It’s cool to show them around here. It’s been a lot of fun.”