Christian Pulisic, the savior of American soccer, turned 19 on Monday and on Tuesday he was nominated for an extremely prestigious award. The Borussia Dortmund attacking midfielder was one of 25 nominees for the Golden Boy Award, which is given out to the best player under 21 years old in Europe. Make no mistake, this is a huge deal.
No, Pulisic is not going to win the award, as Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe is almost certainly going to take home the honor. But this is more evidence that Pulisic’s exploits aren’t just good “for an American.” No, the Hershey, Pennsylvania kid’s skill has resonated outside the U.S. and Europe has taken notice.
A consistent first-teamer for Dortmund over three seasons with the club, Pulisic has tallied nine goals in 61 total appearances. He has also consistently set up goals with his outstanding open-field play. The kid is the real deal and news of his nomination should be encouraging to U.S. fans.
There has always been a bit of a stigma attached to American players when they play in Europe. Very few have ever made a true impact and there are dozens of reasons why. But Pulisic might be the guy who makes it OK to rely on Americans again.
Along with Pulisic, the next generation of young players could change the way Americans are viewed overseas. Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham) and Matt Miazga (Chelsea) are two high-ceiling defenders under contract with Premier League teams. Both are out on loan this year (Carter-Vickers at Sheffield United, Miazga at Vitesse) but appear to be in each of their EPL teams’ long-term plans. DeAndre Yedlin is still just 24 and starting in the Premier League for Newcastle as well.
Meanwhile, young Americans like Julian Green, Gedion Zelalem, Emerson Hyndman, Brooks Lennon (on loan from Liverpool at Real Salt Lake) and Joshua Perez are all high-ceiling prospects with European contracts. Will any of them pan out? It’s yet to be seen, but there has never been this level of young American talent in European leagues.
If those guys can earn their chance to shine in Europe, the impact on the U.S. national team and soccer in American could be tremendous.
It all starts with Pulisic though. He may be the guy who makes it OK to embrace American players. The 19-year-old has a lot on his shoulders, but so far he’s carried that burden without flinching.