It’s hard to accept that the United States did not qualify for the World Cup and players are still reeling, including Christian Pulisic who discussed the “devastating” pain of missing the World Cup with the US.
“It’ll never really go away,” Pulisic said in an interview with ESPN FC.
“I don’t think [the hurt] is ever going to completely go away until I’m in a World Cup.”
Pulisic has admitted it was challenging to move past the setback, but is instead focusing on his on-field performances.
“It took me some time but I moved on, of course, and I think that’s really important,” Pulisic stated.
“If anything, it’s given me a bigger platform to just focus on at club level and do what I can here, without that in my brain.”
Pulisic knows that the pressure is on him in particular because he is considered the best player that he US fields.
“I would say that the expectations some Americans put on me is too much,” he said. “But I don’t take it that way. I know no one means harm to me or wants to put too much pressure on me. It’s kind of what they’ve done or do in the past. A lot of countries do.”
Pulisic says he had to endure some light schadenfreude in the Dortmund dressing room.
“You know there’s always players who make jokes of course,” he smiled. “Luckily, I wasn’t the only player from a team not to qualify. Well, not luckily, but you know what I mean… I know that they have my best interests at heart. They are not being mean or anything. It’s normal.”
Although the United States suffered a crushing setback, Pulisic doesn’t think any radical changes are needed to get the team back on track.
“It’s not about completely restarting. It’s not like we have everything wrong or we panic,” Pulisic said. “It’s about developing what we already have into even better. I think if we continue to do that then of course players will come up and there will be new talents. I think if we do that and build on what we already have, we can really create something.”
Pulisic pointed to Germany’s systematic development of young players as something the United States should adopt moving forward.
“I would say the youth systems in Germany have impressed me the most and how they grow their youth players into full professionals,” Pulisic said.
Pulisic added that the U.S. “pay for play” system that relies on considerable financial contributions from parents “could be one of our problems” that hold them back from reaching its potential.
“I’ve been right there, I see it every day; I literally went through the [German] system. I think what I learned and how I learned from going through when you’re 17 until you’re 19 and fighting everyday with other players — you’re fighting for a pro contract, really — is something we definitely can learn from. It’s a system that I’d never really experienced in the U.S. I would have never got something like this and I think this is the biggest reason why I’ve grown so much as a player.”
Pulisic also knows of the challenges in the United State of having to battle with the 4 major sports for national interest and attention.
“We have a long way to go,” Pulisic said.
“I think what we really want to do is to create a real soccer nation. We want to have kids really wanting to play the sport. That’s something we’re obviously behind in, [in comparison with] a lot of other countries, because of the other sports that are going on. Once we develop new kind of players into a solid national team that the country will really get behind, soccer will continue to grow.”