The USMNT Has Just Hit Its Growth Spurt, So Get Ready For Hormones

Christian Pulisic is a teenager, and so, metaphorically, is the United States Men's National Team.

The United States men's national team isn't perfect, but with Christian Pulisic they have moments of perfection.

Pulisic's first goal against Trinidad & Tobago involved three players with incredible skill combining with perfection. Darlington Nagbe danced down the right channel of the field at Dick's Sporting Goods Park before dropping the ball back to DeAndre Yedlin, whose cross cut through the defense and found Pulisic for the tap-in.

Pulisic's second goal against Trinidad & Tobago came when the 18-year-old latched on to a Jozy Altidore through ball and placed a composed finish beyond the keeper.

We are witnessing a critical moment in the evolution of the USMNT. This team has more players with real skill than any of its predecessors, their problem is they don't always find ways to show it. When they can't find ways to combine, they look like they did against Venezuela and in the first half against T&T. When they can, they look like they did in the second hald against T&T, which is to say incisive and sharp.

In the first half the USA let the Soca Warriors lull them into a bruising, physical CONCACAF classic. In the second half the USMNT completely outclassed their opponents, passing circles around them just because why not.

 

This transformation is not simply down to Christian Pulisic, but he is emblematic of the change. He is also the best player on the team. And like all great players, he makes those around him better. He adds a potential end product to Nagbe's wandering dribbles. He makes Michael Bradley's through ball threat actually a threat, and Jozy Altidore is suddenly an excellent passer.

Pulisic is the catalyst. His presence allows the other players to try things they wouldn't normally try, because they know he might make it work. He wasn't just the edge of the knife on Thursday, even though he scored two goals, he was also the central nervous system telling the knife when and where to stab. 

Basically it's like this: the USMNT is like a clumsy teenager who just hit his growth spurt. You can see the signs of what it will be, even though it's currently uncoordinated, and once it grows into its big feet and Adam's apple and stops sleeping all day and being surly when you try to wake it up before noon, it will be fearsome.

Unfortunately, the universe does not allow for continuous, unimpeded growth. The USMNT are about to ask the prettiest girl in class to the dance and she is going to loudly and definitively reject them. The USMNT's next game is on Sunday against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. They will lose, perhaps badly, but that's OK! They will keep growing. As long as they qualify for Russia 2018, everything will be fine.

The growth will continue. They will eventually stop tripping over their own feet (Alejandro Bedoya). Just give them a little more time, fans. It will all be worth it in the end.

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