Meet Christian Pulisic, the USMNT's ‘Captain America'

Meet Christian Pulisic, the USMNT's ‘Captain America' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were the faces of the United States men’s national team at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

But that title now belongs to Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic made his USMNT debut at just 17 years old in a World Cup qualifying match, and since then, he’s turned into one of the brightest young American soccer stars of all time.

Roughly 6.5 years after debuting as a teenager, the 24-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania, will lead the USMNT as it makes its long-awaited return to the World Cup stage.

Here are five things to know about the Chelsea winger/attacking midfielder nicknamed “Captain America” ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Christian Pulisic is the youngest captain in modern USMNT history

Pulisic donned the USMNT captain’s armband for the first time during a November 2018 friendly against Italy. He was 20 years and 63 days old at the time, making him the youngest USMNT captain in the modern era (since 1990). Prior to Pulisic, Donovan was the youngest to captain the Americans at 22 years and 220 days old.

Captain America owns several more ‘youngest’ USMNT records

Captaining the Americans isn’t the only “youngest” USMNT record Pulisic holds. At 17 years and 193 days old, he became the youngest player to appear for the United States in a World Cup qualifier when he took the field against Guatemala in March 2016.

Then, at 17 years and 253 days old, Pulisic became the youngest USMNT player to score an international goal as he found the back of the net in a May 2016 friendly versus Bolivia.

Pulisic made more goal-scoring history in a September 2016 World Cup qualifying match versus St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Pulisic, aged 17 years and 349 days, became the youngest USMNT player to both score a goal and record a brace in a World Cup qualifying match. And four days after that two-goal performance, Pulisic became the youngest player to start a World Cup qualifying match for the USMNT, besting Donovan’s mark by nearly a full year.

Pulisic ready for his first World Cup

When the United States last appeared in the World Cup back in 2014, Pulisic was a 15-year-old.

The USMNT infamously failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament, the first time it missed out on the World Cup since 1986. Pulisic, though, was a bright spot in the United States’ qualification efforts, posting seven goals and seven assists across 13 appearances.

He scored another five goals across 10 caps throughout the qualification for this year’s World Cup. With 21 goals, Pulisic is already seventh on the USMNT’s all-time scoring leaderboard.

He began his professional career at age 16 — in Germany’s Bundesliga

Pulisic signed with Borussia Dortmund of Germany’s Bundesliga in February 2015 as a 16-year-old. A little less than a year later, he made his Bundesliga debut as a substitute against Ingolstadt at 17 years and 133 days old. Pulisic would go on to make 127 appearances across four seasons with Borussia Dortmund, recording 19 goals and 26 assists.

He also set a list of “youngest” records while with BVB, including the youngest to score two goals in the Bundesliga (17 years and 218 days old), youngest USMNT player to appear and record an assist in a UEFA Champions League match (17 years and 361 days old), youngest USMNT player to score in the Champions League (18 years and 171 days old) and youngest USMNT player to win a major European club trophy (18 years and 221 days old).

The most expensive American player of all time

Chelsea bought Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for $70.4 million in January 2019, marking the highest transfer fee for an American soccer player ever. Pulisic’s move blew past the previous record price, which was the $18.7 million VfL Wolfsburg paid to acquire defender John Brooks from Hertha BSC in 2017. Brenden Aaronson, who went from RB Salzburg to Leeds United for $36.1 million earlier this year, is now the second-most expensive American player, while Weston McKennie ($23.1 million move to Juventus) and Sergino Dest ($22.6 million move to FC Barcelona) have also since leapfrogged Brooks.

Pulisic burst onto the English Premier League scene with nine goals and six assists across 25 EPL appearances in 2019-20. In Year 2 with Chelsea, Pulisic tallied two goals and two assists in 10 Champions League appearances as Thomas Tuchel’s side won the club’s second UCL title. Pulisic’s semifinal goal against Real Madrid was the first time an American male player scored in the UCL semis.

Pulisic has recorded 133 appearances with 26 goals and 21 assists as he plays out his fourth season with the Blues. His seven Champions League goals, five of which have come for Chelsea, are the most ever by an American male player.