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Christian Pulisic opens up about US Soccer’s failure to qualify for the World Cup

The Dortmund star has his say.

Trinidad & Tobago v United States  - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images

October 10th was a tough day for any fan of US Soccer. The USMNT went from being a sure-thing, to missing out on the World Cup completely. And it all happened because they couldn’t even get a draw against a poor Trinidad & Tobago team.

But if you thought that day hurt the fans, think of how it hurt Christian Pulisic.

The 19-year-old has been tabbed as the most promising American soccer player ever, but failure to qualify means that he won’t play at a World Cup until 2022 at the earliest.

Pulisic opened up to The Players’ Tribune about just how heart-breaking that failure was. Much of what he has to say is about the USMNT, but it’s still an interesting read for Dortmund fans as well. Here are some excerpts:

I love American soccer. Which maybe sounds obvious — but I think a lot of people have this weird idea of USMNT players who have come up in Europe. They’ll talk about how we’re somehow less passionate about U.S. Soccer, or less American about it. That we’re these ringers or something — these outsiders brought in as, like, a cheat code to beat European sides. And it couldn’t be further from the truth.

It really frustrates me when people say, “Oh, he’s barely American,” or, “He grew up in the Dortmund academy,” or anything like that. First of all, it’s not true: Until I was 16, I came up through the U.S. youth system. I did all of the camps, the academies, the residency programs, the travel teams, and everything else it had to offer. I’ll always be a part of that system, and I’ll always be indebted to it. Second of all, I think that’s just a dangerous attitude in general: Having a closed-minded view of what does or doesn’t constitute being an American. And I hope it’s an attitude that we can keep out of this conversation in the years to come.

This knock is a common one, but one that I have never understood. A USMNT players spends time living elsewhere so he must not be passionate about playing for his country? That’s bogus, and Pulisic is proof.

As a result of my dual citizenship, I’ve been able to play in Europe, training at the Dortmund academy, since I was 16. Without it? I would have had to wait until I was 18. And for a soccer player … man, ask anyone and they’ll tell you — those age 16–18 years are everything. From a developmental perspective, it’s almost like this sweet spot: It’s the age where a player’s growth and skill sort of intersect, in just the right way — and where, with the right direction, a player can make their biggest leap in development by far.

Pulisic says he’s “not an expert” in the piece, but this makes it clear that he is. Maybe he could be President of US Soccer instead of Sunil Gulati?

Check out the full piece for more interesting thoughts from Dortmund’s talented young attacker.