Pulisic and Wood: known and unknown
Christian Pulisic is a star. At the ripe old age of 18 he’s already a star with the U.S. Men’s National Team. And he’s already a professional star with Borussia Dortmund. Just this week he became a star with a trading card. But Bobby Wood?
Pulisic sets the standard
There was a time when Steve Cherundolo set the standard for U.S. players in the Bundesliga. In those days, however, sports fans in the USA barely knew what soccer was, much less the names of those who played it. Even much less those who did so in Germany.
Today the role of “US ambassador to the Bundesliga” is being ably and properly filled by young Mr. Pulisic. And the young man from Hershey, Pennsylvania, deserves every bit of his success and his stardom. Let’s get that out of the way from the start.
In just 16 games with U.S. men’s senior team he’s scored 7 goals. That’s impressive considering that he was just 17 when he joined that team. But he is also quite capable as a playmaker. Witness the “hat-trick of assists” that he handed out just a week ago to lead Dortmund to a 3-1 friendly win over AC Milan.
Today Pulisic plays alongside some of the best in the world at Dortmund. Though he shares billing at BVB with such bright lights as Aubameyang and Dembele, Pulisic has managed to make a name for himself in Germany, in Europe and in the USA. So much so that Panini have lately debuted a line of memorabilia featuring his name and likeness.
Two on the same path (including no Gold Cup call-up)
Despite the success, or perhaps because of it, Pulisic was given a pass from Bruce Arena for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup competition which just concluded. The U.S. Men’s team still won, but there was definitely some excitement missing.
Also missing from that squad was Bobby Wood. If you’re not as familiar with that name as with Pulisic’s that’s not surprising. Wood, 24, is also a rising U.S. star in Germany’s top flight league. A forward for club and country he has also scored in several of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualifiers. Just like Christian Pulisic. Both players were also brought onto the senior squad during Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure as U.S. head coach.
Also, both were new to Bundesliga in 2016-17. But unlike Pulisic, Wood was not ushered into the heat of a league title battle and the heady world of the UEFA Champions League.
On two different roads
Far from it. Wood plies his trade for Hamburg SV, far from the league’s major spotlights. And though the U.S. international and his side had a few memorable moments last season, it eventually collapsed into a fight for simple survival.
And survive they did. But just barely.
Under a new manager as of last fall, Hamburg managed to finish just one point out of a relegation playoff. Their season’s goal differential was alarmingly unattractive.
Still Wood is a promising talent and may yet find his way to center stage both in the club ranks and as a likely regular with the U.S. Men’s squad. He has a future for certain, but not a certain future.
In any event, I wouldn’t trade his Panini Bundesliga rookie card away too cheaply…yet.
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