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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

June 10, 2016
TEEN PHENOM
17-year-old Christian Pulisic ready to continue to put his best foot forward for USA in Copa America

By Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Christian Pulisic is another in a long line of young Americans who are expected to help the U.S national team move into another orbit internationally.

Whether the 17-year-old will get more opportunities in Copa America Centenario, it remains to be seen.

Pulisic, the son of former professional indoor soccer player Mark Pulisic, was relegated to a bench role in the Americans' opening two matches. He came on during the second half of the 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in the Group A opener and did not see any action

The Borussia Dortmund striker is just happy to be in the state of his birth -- Pennsylvania (he was born in Harrisburg), where he hopes to play in front of some familiar faces of friends and family.

"A lot. Too many to count," he said Thursday.

"It's awesome to be in my home state right now. I'm really excited to be close to my family and friends. It's amazing to be here with the national team."

It is difficult to gauge the future of a 17-year-old or any other teenager for that matter at the pro and international level because they face so many variables, from getting an opportunity to play regularly and progress, avoiding injuries and having the right attitude when things go south.

Their potential can range from a Landon Donovan, the gold standard of teenage phenoms who became the USA's all-time goal-scoring leader, to a Juan Agudelo, who wanted more playing time with the Red Bulls before he was dealt (some might say exiled) to Chivas USA in 2012, to the sad case of Freddy Adu, who never lived up to the unmatched hype ever given to a teen (he was 14 when he signed with Major League Soccer in 2003).

Pulisic doesn't see himself as anyone special.

"Everyone keeps telling me, 'You're only 17, he said. I don't look at it like that. I'm just one of the guys, a member of the team. Just doing what I can to be the best player I can be."

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has liked what he has seen, using Pulisic in the final 24 minutes against Colombia.

"He has certain characteristics in his game that can make a difference," he said. "That's why he already played Champions League overseas because he's fearless, he takes people on, so he's always there to surprise the opponent."

His father, Mark played with future pro players Tony Meola and Martin Munnelly on the 1987 Oceanside Navahos, who captured the Boys Under-19 Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association State Cup crown.

Pulisic said that he speaks with his parents just about every day.

"My dad, he's really helpful," Christian said. "He doesn't try to talk too much about the game of soccer. He just wants to support me and be there for me."

He just hopes he can get a chance to show what he can do at Lincoln Financial Field at 7 p.m. Saturday as the USA meets Paraguay for a spot in the quarterfinals.

"It was really exciting to go on in such a big tournament," Pulisic said. "The nerves were there in the beginning, but they just shot away when I got onto the field. Yeah, it's really exciting. I was happy.

"Even though I may not show nerves or anything, as soon as you go on the field, they do kind of go away. I just try to show no fear when I go on the field every time."

   
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