Commentary

Christian Pulisic well-poised going into his third Bundesliga season

By Mike Woitalla

Christian Pulisic, who turns 19 in September, enters his third season for Borussia Dortmund with a new coach. The early indications are that Dutchman Peter Bosz expects the young American to play a key role. And that’s not the only good news coming out Dortmund.

In Tuesday’s 3-1 friendly win at AC Milan, Pulisic had a hand in all three goals. He assisted Nuri Sahin for the first goal (after nicely controlling a high cross-field pass), was fouled (in the midst of a spin move) for a penalty kick that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted, and set up Aubameyang’s second goal with a sharp pass.

Bundesliga.com predicts that Borussia Dortmund’s starting lineup for the 2016-17 season will feature Pulisic on the left wing and 20-year-old Frenchman Ousmane Dembele on the right wing, with Aubameyang spearheading the attack.

That Aubameyang, one of the most sought-after strikers in the world after scoring 85 Bundesliga goals plus 19 assists in 128 games, returns is the best news BVB fans have had in a long time. BVB bought Aubameyang from Saint-Etienne in 2013 for about $15 million and now his market value has been estimated as high $75 million.

BVB has had a history of selling off stars, but on Tuesday, after the win at AC Milan, Sporting director Michael Zorc announced: "We see the transfer window as being closed. Time has run out."

Aubameyang, who led the Bundesliga in scoring last season with 31 goals in 32 Bundesliga games last season, was reportedly being courted by English Premier League and Chinese clubs, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.

“Auba is an excellent player, and I'm happy he is here. You saw why again today,” Bosz said after the win over AC Milan.

Last season, Borussia Dortmund finished in third place, 18 points behind champion Bayern Munich and three points behind second-place RB Leipzig.

Pulisic made 29 Bundesliga appearances, with 15 starts, in 2016-17 after nine games (three starts) in his debut season of 2015-16. Last season, he scored three goals and made eight assists.


Christian Pulisic vs. Bayern Munich last season. (Photo courtesy Borussia Dortmund)

BVB does welcome new players, including recently crowned German U-21 European champion Mahmoud Dahoud, and former U-17 U.S. international Neven Subotic (who now plays for Serbia) returns to BVB, where he was a part of its 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga championship teams. But the signings aren’t players in positions to compete with Pulisic for playing time.

Going into the 2016-17 season, Dortmund had lost Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitarya and started off poorly – dropping 10 points in its first seven games, it was never in the title hunt.

Bosz, who guided a young Ajax Amsterdam to the 2017 Europa League final, replaced Thomas Tuchel, and will be expected to lead BVB in a strong challenge to dethrone five-time defending champ Bayern Munich.

Pulisic is well poised to play a key role in that quest.

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