Tim Howard marvels at Christian Pulisic's ability to thrive on big stages at young age

Sports Illustrated

Veteran U.S. men's national team goalkeeper Tim Howard has no hesitations when it comes to heaping praise on Christian Pulisic and his ability to adapt to the bigger stages despite being an 18-year-old at the start of his career.

Pulisic, who had a goal and three assists in the USA's two World Cup qualifying matches this past week, has caught Howard's eye, with the 38-year-old goalkeeper admitting he didn't have Pulisic's fearlessness under the bright lights at his age in an interview with SI's Grant Wahl on the Planet FxFA;tbol Podcast.

"I don't think we've really had a world dominant starx2013;and that's not to say he is or he isn't," Howard said. "I think he's certainly ready, his feet are firmly on the ground, he's a humble kid, he clearly enjoys his football, he enjoys the bright lights. I always said at that age I didn't. I was nervous and fearful, and I didn't have the skills or the talent to play on that stage that early. It's something of a prodigy when it comes to Christian, because he harnesses that energy, he embraces it and he seems to flourish, and I think that's the key point. Everyone can just get thrown in there and see what happens, but he flourishes in these moments, not only for us but for Dortmund, he's playing in Champions League and so it's exciting for us.

"We've had a lot of good young talent over the years. Some have sustained that. Landon Donovan is a classic case of someone who was very young, who had a lot thrown at him and not only passed with flying colors but is arguably the best U.S. soccer player in history. And then there are others who have fallen by the wayside, and there's too many to name, but I wouldn't be fearful of that. He seems like he can handle it, he seems like he's ready for it. By no means is he glory hungry or media hungry, but it certainly doesn't faze him."

Pulisic has four goals in his budding U.S. career, three of which have come in World Cup qualifiers. For Dortmund, he scored the go-ahead goal in the club's Champions League round-of-16 series against Benfica, which sent BVB onto the quarterfinals. With a UCL series against Monaco looming and June qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico after the club season ends, there are more bright-light opportunities in the offing for the Hershey, Pa., native.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA celebrates his goal as William Patching of England reacts during the Nike International Friendlies at The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch on Nov. 28, 2014 in Sarasota, Fla.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA celebrates his goal as William Patching of England reacts during the Nike International Friendlies at The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch on Nov. 28, 2014 in Sarasota, Fla.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA scores the opening goal during the FIFA U-17 Men&#39;s World Cup 2015 group A match between USA and Croatia at Estadio Sausalito on Oct. 20, 2015 in Vina del Mar, Chile.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA scores the opening goal during the FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup 2015 group A match between USA and Croatia at Estadio Sausalito on Oct. 20, 2015 in Vina del Mar, Chile.

<p>Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack of Borussia Dortmund arrival at the international airport in Dubai for their training camp on Jan. 7, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.</p>

Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack of Borussia Dortmund arrival at the international airport in Dubai for their training camp on Jan. 7, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund with a header against Tin Jedvaj of Bayer Leverkusen on Feb. 21, 2016.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund with a header against Tin Jedvaj of Bayer Leverkusen on Feb. 21, 2016.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund watches as his shot flies past Ralf Faehrmann of FC Schalke 04 and wide of the post at Veltins-Arena on April 10, 2016 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund watches as his shot flies past Ralf Faehrmann of FC Schalke 04 and wide of the post at Veltins-Arena on April 10, 2016 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Bundesliga match against Hamburger SV at Signal Iduna Park on April 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Bundesliga match against Hamburger SV at Signal Iduna Park on April 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the opening goal together with his teammate Felix Passlack during the Bundesliga match against Hamburger SV at Signal Iduna Park on April 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the opening goal together with his teammate Felix Passlack during the Bundesliga match against Hamburger SV at Signal Iduna Park on April 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA attempts to drive past Diego Bejarano of Bolivia during the second half of an international friendly soccer match at Children&#39;s Mercy Park on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA attempts to drive past Diego Bejarano of Bolivia during the second half of an international friendly soccer match at Children's Mercy Park on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA attempts to chip a pass past Guillermo Viscarra of Bolivia late in the second half of an international friendly match at Children&#39;s Mercy Park on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA attempts to chip a pass past Guillermo Viscarra of Bolivia late in the second half of an international friendly match at Children's Mercy Park on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA warms up for the Copa America Centenario Group A match against Columbia at Levi&#39;s Stadium on June 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA warms up for the Copa America Centenario Group A match against Columbia at Levi's Stadium on June 3, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA reaches for the ball against Gabriel Mercado of Argentina during the Copa America Centenario semifinal match on June 21, 2016 in Houston.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA reaches for the ball against Gabriel Mercado of Argentina during the Copa America Centenario semifinal match on June 21, 2016 in Houston.

<p>Christian Pulisic of the USA eyes the ball during the Copa America Centenario third place game against Colombia at the University of Phoenix Stadium on June 25, 2016 in Glendale, Ariz.</p>

Christian Pulisic of the USA eyes the ball during the Copa America Centenario third place game against Colombia at the University of Phoenix Stadium on June 25, 2016 in Glendale, Ariz.

<p>Patrick McNair of Manchester United in action with Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund during the pre-season friendly match at Shanghai Stadium on July 22, 2016 in Shanghai, China.</p>

Patrick McNair of Manchester United in action with Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund during the pre-season friendly match at Shanghai Stadium on July 22, 2016 in Shanghai, China.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the goal to the 1:1 during the International Champions Cup China match against Manchester City during Borussia Dortmund&#39;s Summer Asia Tour on July 28, 2016 in Shenzhen, China.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after scoring the goal to the 1:1 during the International Champions Cup China match against Manchester City during Borussia Dortmund's Summer Asia Tour on July 28, 2016 in Shenzhen, China.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund during a training session on the training ground of Bad Ragaz during Borussia Dortmund&#39;s summer training camp on Aug. 7, 2016 in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund during a training session on the training ground of Bad Ragaz during Borussia Dortmund's summer training camp on Aug. 7, 2016 in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund gets challenged by Guilherme of Legia Warszawa during the UEFA Champions League: First Qualifying Round 1st Leg match at Wojska Polskiego Stadium on Sept. 14, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund gets challenged by Guilherme of Legia Warszawa during the UEFA Champions League: First Qualifying Round 1st Leg match at Wojska Polskiego Stadium on Sept. 14, 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.

<p>Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund scores during the Bundesliga match against SV Darmstadt 98 at Signal Iduna Park on Sept. 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.</p>

Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund scores during the Bundesliga match against SV Darmstadt 98 at Signal Iduna Park on Sept. 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.

<p>Teammates of Borussia Dortmund celebrate the 3:0 goal of Christian Pulisic during the Bundesliga match against SV Darmstadt 98 at Signal Iduna Park on Sept. 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.</p>

Teammates of Borussia Dortmund celebrate the 3:0 goal of Christian Pulisic during the Bundesliga match against SV Darmstadt 98 at Signal Iduna Park on Sept. 17, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany.

<p>Christian Pulisic blows by Joevin Jones in the USA&#39;s 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Trinidad and Tobago on Sept. 6, 2016, in which he assisted on a goal scored by Jozy Altidore.</p>

Christian Pulisic blows by Joevin Jones in the USA's 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Trinidad and Tobago on Sept. 6, 2016, in which he assisted on a goal scored by Jozy Altidore.

<p>Christian Pulisic chips the goalkeeper in scoring a massive goal for Dortmund in its triumph over Benfica in the 2016-17 Champions League round of 16.</p>

Christian Pulisic chips the goalkeeper in scoring a massive goal for Dortmund in its triumph over Benfica in the 2016-17 Champions League round of 16.

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