At this point in the season, everyone seems to be clear on one thing about Christian Pulisic: the kid can play. He is not a novelty. That much was on display yet again against Werder Bremen, when, tied 2-2 with ten minutes left to play and Dortmund needing a goal to keep any shot at the Bundesliga title still alive, Thomas Tuchel subbed out Marco Reus, a player who Transfermarkt currently values at 45 million euros, for the seventeen year old American. And it worked: Pulisic won the corner that Adrian Ramos scored a game-winning goal from, and was a constant thorn in Werder's side with his quick shifts of play and ability to create space. Now, after being marked a vital player in Dortmund's squad by Tuchel and after making this senior debut for the United States, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has floated the possibility of Pulisic being apart of his team for this summer's Copa America Centenario.
In a live Facebook Q&A, Klinsmann had the following to say when asked about the young attacker:
We were thrilled to give Christian his debut in Columbus with the full senior national team, and with that his full commitment goes to the United States. He still had the option; part of his family from Croatia and he has a second passport. Having him now fully on board with the U.S. national team is wonderful. He's a player who has tremendous potential. We have to give him time, we have to be very patient like we are with other younger players. He's getting his minutes with Borussia Dortmund and sometimes playing with their U-19 team. It's nice to see, a "one step at a time" approach, but at a very early age. Hopefully he can confirm that over the next couple weeks, getting more minutes with the senior team and we'll see how it goes for Copa America.
Pulisic's full debut for the U.S. was always likely, especially considering he has dual citizenship and his appearance against Guatemala cap-tied him to the United States (even though he's never shown an inclination towards Croatia outside of getting his passport to smooth over labor laws regarding his transfer to Dortmund), but the fact that Klinsmann sees Pulisic as a possible option for this summer's tournament might still surprise some. The tournament will be stacked with South American heavyweights (not to mention current kings of North and Central America, Mexico), and Klinsmann's position still seems a bit precarious. A 4-0 home win against Guatemala masked a bad 2-0 defeat in Guatemala City for the Stars and Stripes, and a poor showing in the Copa America on home soil won't help his cause. A first-choice lineup seems to be the most logical choice. If Pulisic is in contention for a spot on Klinsmann's roster, that means he's already in the United States' top echelon of senior international players.
A possible Pulisic call-up for the summer could be a great growing experience for the budding midfielder. The United States are in a group with Colombia, Paraguay, and Costa Rica, and the close grouping of games could see Pulisic grab minutes against tough, meaningful opposition at the international level. On the other hand, he would have a severely-shortened summer break, and the propensity for injury for U.S. players has seemed unnaturally high over the past couple of years. Regardless of if Pulisic's rapid rise with the United States is a good or a bad thing, one thing seems clear: his time is now.