Pulisic Says Americans Achieving Glory in Europe “inspirational” to Kids

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Former USMNT player Jovan Kirovski was part of Borussia Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League title team, but he didn’t feature. On Saturday, Christian Pulisic came off the bench in the second half to become the first American to feature in the UCL final, on the men’s side.

Pulisic’s Chelsea defeated Manchester City 1-0, and now the Hershey, PA native (as well as the No. 2 on the opposite side in this match, Zack Steffen) will return to USMNT camp “7 feet tall,” in the words of Belgium Coach and TV pundit Roberto Martinez.

The result on Saturday meant that 10 of the 23 players on the U.S. roster for the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League Finals this month, including Pulisic, won at least one European trophy this season.

To quote Al Pacino’s boisterous and braggadocio soliloquy at the end of “The Devil’s Advocate,” “We’re coming out baby!”

As more and more American internationals continue to put their stamp at the biggest clubs in the best leagues, the national side will only elevate further. It’s a rising tide that’s lifting all boats.  

“It’s an incredible group that we have around right now,” Pulisic said to NBC.

“It makes me proud, personally, just watching these guys playing at the highest level. What it does for the country is obviously that those guys are developing at the highest level, constantly.

“It is also showing kids in America back home that are thinking ‘you know what, I can do this too!’ And I hope that’s what kids are thinking because anything is possible. We are showing it now that we can hang out here in Europe as well and it is only positive and it is inspirational.”

On December 5, 2020, three different Americans (Christian Pulisic at Chelsea, Weston McKennie at Juventus and Gio Reyna at Borussia Dortmund) scored in Europe’s top five leagues, on the same day, for the first time in 11 years. 

In February of 2021, French outlet L’Equipe ranked their top 50 players under 20, and two USMNT players made the list, both cracking the top 20.

Reyna was fifth while Yunus Musah, who’s with Valencia, was #19.

“It’s amazing. I can’t say enough about how proud we are for the players, no matter what competition they’re in,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter is quoted in ESPN.

“They’re in teams that are competing to win the titles and that’s exciting because [of what that does] for the culture of winning to the U.S. national team, and that’s what we’re looking for.

“When we step on the field and we compete to win these trophies, we want guys that really understand what it means to win, to value what it means to win, but also having the expectation that winning is what we’re looking for and anything less than that isn’t good enough. Now we have a group that can do it.”

Pulisic will be the alpha dog as Berhalter’s side aim to win the Nations League in what will be (along with the Gold Cup) the last major tune-up before what really matters, the 2022 World Cup qualifiers which kick off in the autumn.

Pulisic has said, repeatedly, he would like to be the captain who leads the U.S. through this critical period.

Failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup hurt, badly, but with a new generation of players making their mark all over the world, especially so in Europe and the Americas, the trajectory for the Stars & Stripes is overwhelmingly positive. 

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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