Pulisic questions U.S. youth development after World Cup debacle

by 6d ago
Sam Greenwood / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Even though he admits he doesn't have all the answers, Christian Pulisic is asking all the tough questions in the aftermath of the United States' unceremonious World Cup exit.

In a sobering essay for The Players' Tribune, the 19-year-old criticized Major League Soccer's track record with young players and condemned the culture in the United States that's anointed him a savior.

Pulisic said the U.S. has the talent to become a competitive soccer nation. It's only a matter of doing more with it.

"In the U.S. system, too often the best player on an under-17 team will be treated like a 'star' - not having to work for the ball, being the focus of the offense at all times, etc. - at a time when they should be having to fight tooth and nail for their spot," he wrote.

"In Europe, on the other hand, the average level of ability around you is just so much higher. It’s a pool of players where everyone has been 'the best player,' and everyone is fighting for a spot - truly week in and week out. Which makes the intensity and humility that you need to bring to the field every day - both from a mental and physical perspective - just unlike anything that you can really experience in U.S. developmental soccer."

Pulisic said he was grateful to have a chance to train with Borussia Dortmund as a 16-year-old. He was only allowed to move to Europe at an earlier age than most because he had an EU passport.

For those who remain stateside, Pulisic believes MLS teams overlook homegrown players, stunting their development.

"It really does frustrate me, when I watch MLS, and I see our best U-17 players - who, again, are so talented and so capable - being rostered … but then not being put on the field much to actually play," Pulisic wrote. "I watch that, and I just think about how I was given a chance … a real chance … and it changed my life.

"Why then are we seemingly hesitant to allow these other talents to blossom?"