CAN CHRISTIAN PULISIC BECOME THE FIRST U.S. MEN'S SUPERSTAR IN WORLD-CLASS SOCCER? THE TEAM USA SOCCER COACH THINKS HE MIGHT, THIS SUNDAY ON "60 MINUTES"
The Raw Talent of the 19-year-old Pennsylvania Phenomenon Could Boost the World Cup Chances of the U.S. National Team
There is some hesitation when Team USA Soccer Coach Bruce Arena says Christian Pulisic could be the first American soccer superstar. But the coach is confident enough in the raw talent of this 19-year-old from Hershey, Penn., to say on 60 MINUTES that the kid has a good chance. Sharyn Alfonsi talks to Arena and to Pulisic and his parents on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Oct. 1 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.
In a sport wildly popular almost every place outside the U.S., America has never produced a world-class superstar. Since the best talent was in other countries, Pulisic went to Germany for his later high school years and came up through the soccer system in Dortmund. He plays for the city's professional team and makes over $8 million a year when endorsements are figured in. Watch a clip.
And no wonder: he was only 17 years old when he scored his first goal for Dortmund. Picture the best-ever high school baseball player hitting a home run off of the best major league pitching. At 19, Pulisic has scored as many professional goals as Lionel Messi when he was 19, and Messi is considered the world's best player.
"It makes you think he is going to be perhaps the first American superstar in the sport," says Arena. "I'm willing to say that." When Alfonsi counters that there are many who are hedging on this prediction, Arena replies: "You have to be hesitant about this, but this is a very talented young man."
Arena acknowledges the talent gap between American players and those of other countries when he describes the first time he saw Pulisic play. "First of all, he doesn't look like an American. That's a compliment. He looks like a natural on the field, he moves gracefully, he's strong for his size, his speed is incredible, and his first touch is good."
Those skills are being put to use in qualifying games that will determine which teams are admitted to next summer's World Cup. The U.S. has never fielded a team that made it to the World Cup finals. Pulisic is giving many American soccer fans hope.
Alfonsi asks Pulisic if he thinks there's an expectation for him to become the next Messi. "I think it's what American fans, soccer fans do, especially. They're looking for the next star, the next player to be the face of U.S. soccer and all the stuff I hear every day," he says.
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