Every four years, the World Cup entertains the better part of my summer. I am glued to the TV, eager to see how the U.S. national team will fare against tough international competition.
Being eliminated from participating in the World Cup by Trinidad and Tobago is heart-breaking for U.S. soccer fans everywhere.
Nevertheless, instead of sending off the stars of this generation — Clint Dempsey and fan-favorite goalie Tim Howard — with one last hurrah this season, we are left to eulogize their accomplishments in hopes of discovering young Americans who can live up to and hopefully exceed their legacies.
Tim Howard won the hearts of many Americans after setting a World Cup record of 16 saves in one game, and Clint Dempsey is considered the best American player to ever play the game.
Although it may be hard to think about the future, all hope is not lost. For example, Christian Pulisic, the young Borussia Dortmund midfielder from Hershey, Pa. has exceptional playmaking skills that could carry the U.S. team far.
Dortmund is one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs and is consistently competitive for the Bundesliga, Germany’s top league title.
Pulisic’s high level of talent earned him a starting position more often than not.
Even when he did not start, Pulisic was still able to assert himself, leaving his mark on every match he participated in. In 42 appearances, he tallied five goals and 12 assists.
The young American winger even played well enough to make Dortmund’s Champions League lineup, starting in six of the 10 games that Dortmund played.
His efforts helped propel his team to the top of their group, despite being in a group that included Real Madrid, arguably the biggest powerhouse currently in the soccer world.
Along with all of Pulisic’s talents, he has the one intangible trait of a champion: He does not shy away from the big moment.
It was his goal in the Round of 16 which earned Dortmund a spot in the tournament’s quarter finals.
With his speed and creativity, Pulisic is a nightmare for defenders.
As Pulisic continues to hone his skills in Europe, he hopefully will come home and not only help earn a qualifying spot but also position the U.S. national team to succeed in the next World Cup.
In addition to Pulisic, Josh Sargent is another bright prospect.
After leading the U.S. Under-17 team to World Cup qualification, he received a call up to the Under-20s, despite not playing in the Under-20 qualifiers.
In the Under-17 tournament, he scored five goals and had two assists, including two scores against Mexico.
After he turns 18, Sargent will be eligible to sign with a European club to compete against the world’s best and refine his skills alongside the current stars of the soccer world.
More and more European clubs — likely motivated by the quick rise of Pulisic — have been scouting and signing young Americans.
In other words, American talent is receiving global recognition.
Regardless of the silver lining, American fans, like the members of the national team, will be left to watch the World Cup this upcoming summer, envying fans of competing nations.
But still, these two budding stars do give us a lot to look forward to.
Who knows? Maybe that devastating loss to Trinidad and Tobago is what fuels Pulisic to push his game to a new level and inspires Sargent to ensure that the U.S. qualifies for the 2022 World Cup.
Although we may not be able to watch the United States in the World Cup next year, we certainly can watch the development of Pulisic and Sargent along with other young U.S.