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This Pennsylvanian is mighty proud of our Christian. Maybe he can help expand the love of soccer beyond the southeastern counties and Peters Township in the west of our state.
Having spent my public school years in Erie, PA, I have to say that it will be a long hard sell to overcome the Pennsylvania football legacy of Joe Namath and Freddie Biletnikoff (also from Erie). The only ray of hope is the large soccer complex in an Erie suburb, built in recent years.
I was born in Phila and have lived in Western PA for the last almost 30 yrs, so I'm another proud Pennsylvanian. Like Ben's Erie (though even moreso), the Pgh Area is all about the Steelers (and the Penguins, and for the masochists, the Pirates). But soccer is growing, even here. The Pgh Riverhounds (USL team) even have one of the nicest soccer stadiums in the country right in downtown Pgh, with a stunning view of downtown Pgh right across the river (where, ironically, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's building is prominent; even though they could almost watch the games out their windows, their coverage is abysmal).
It's great that Christian is already giving back to the community that produced him. And it is interesting to note the importance he put on playing soccer after school during his one year in England (which I didn't know he did). Pulisic highlights two vital ingredients for soccer development; passion for the game and opportunities to play in an unstructured (and unpressured) environment. We're getting the passion, but we need to make sure we provide environments where kids can explore the game on their own.
Unfortunately with passage of federal legislation in response to Nasser's awful deeds, many soccer clubs are very concerned about liability, and owners of the fields the same. Pickup soccer as I knew it 25 years ago in my current home town, literally kids of all ages from 8 to 70, has vanished. Not sure how well pickup survives elsewhere, but it would be wonderful for the American game to have an infusion of it.