It’s seemed fairly clear for a while that Christian Pulisic has been the crown jewel of not only Dortmund’s academy, but the United States international set-up as well. In a country obsessed with young saviors to bring long-awaited glory to a middling program, Pulisic represents a pedigree few other U.S. internationals have at just the age of 18, with time firmly on his side. It makes sense that many fans would figuratively put their hopes in Pulisic, but now, it appears Jurgen Klinsmann is literally putting the program on his shoulders as well.
In a Facebook Live session after consecutive defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica, Klinsmann gave a simple answer to the reason he chose a formation the U.S. had never run before to go against their chief regional rivals and historical titans of North America, Mexico, in a World Cup Qualifier: Christian Pulisic.
Klinsmann cited Pulisic’s ability to drift inside and create havoc with Dortmund’s attack as his main reason for a switch to a 3-4-3 (which he now labels a 3-4-1-2):
With that formation, four midfielders spread out over the whole width of the field and then having Christian as the one behind Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood, we hope that gives him so much freedom to roam and to hurt Mex at specific times, similar to what he does at Borussia Dortmund.
While the formation was almost universally declared an utter failure (probably due to the fact that the U.S. had never once tried it before in an actual game, or something like that. I don’t know. I’m not an expert), Pulisic did manage to drive at the Mexican defense on a couple occasions, and looked lively throughout the game.
All this to say, an international team that advanced to the knockout stages in three of the last four World Cups has now entrusted the most important role in their attack to an 18 year old who also happens to be on the books at Dortmund. And even if it appears their coach has no idea how to prepare his individual players tactically at times, that’s still pretty cool.