The pain of failure has subsided to the point Christian Pulisic can see things clearly.
The U.S. men’s soccer team star published an essay Monday in The Players’ Tribune in which he breaks his silence on Team USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and U.S. soccer as a whole. Titled “1,834 Days,” in reference to the wait USA must endure until the 2022 World Cup, Pulisic’s piece starts with a description of the devastation he felt Oct. 10 when USA suffered a dramatic elimination from World Cup qualifying.
“So to have come this far … to have made the team, and to have been a goal away from qualifying … and then to have fallen short? It hurt more than I can really put into words,” Pulisic writes.
Pulisic, 19, then uses his personal experience to identify areas in which U.S. soccer is helping and hindering players’ careers. He believes his move to German club Borussia Dortmund at age 16 — with the help of his dual U.S./Croatian citizenship — was pivotal in his meteoric rise. He urges a campaign to allow other American players to be eligible to join European clubs at 16, rather than 18 as current rules allow.
“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 writes.
Pulisic insists the U.S. is producing plenty of talented teenage players but laments how little playing time they’re receiving at MLS clubs.
“Why then are we seemingly hesitant to allow these other talents to blossom?” Pulisic asks.
Pulisic then hails the rise of fan culture in the U.S. because it will help foster an obsession with winning, something he admits to have had throughout his upbringing.
Finally, he makes a promise 1,834 days ahead of time: Team USA will qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
Let’s hope he’s right.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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