Is Christian Pulisic already the best American male soccer player ever?

He just turned 21, just having moved to Chelsea, a top EPL club, after mixed performances in the Bundesliga for Dortmund. He seems to have turned a corner and now is clearly taking over games in the top league in the world. Watching the last few games, one could make the case that he’s been the best player on the pitch. I know that Tim Howard had a pretty good run at Manchester United as GK, but I don’t know if any American has ever reached this level.

Tim Howard is more appreciated for his years of reliable performances for Everton than his spell at Manchester United. Obviously an American playing for a club like Manchester United is a huge deal for US soccer (especially because the US game was a lot more primitive in the 2000s when Howard joined them to now). However Howard’s most memorable moment in a Manchester United shirt was a blunder. When he fumbled a last minute free kick against Porto that allowed a rebound to be scored and United were eliminated from the European Cup. Oh and Jose Mourinho announced himself to England by racing down the touchline to celebrate as his side went through and ultimately won the European Cup.

Brad Friedel was better than Howard IMO. Friedel was being scouted and offered chances to move to Europe in the early 1990s, when US Soccer was even less reputable. The 94' World Cup was yet to take place. Work permit problems stopped him from making a move to England at that point but he got to play for a Danish club Brondby, then joined Turkish giants Galatasaray whose fans are known as arguably the most fanatical and hostile home supporters in Europe. He was their starting goalkeeper but for some reason decided to leave after just one year to return to America. He then joined the most successful English club, Liverpool, in 1997. Like Howard at United several years later, Friedel struggled to nail a starting spot at one of the two biggest English clubs so he took a step down but proved himself to be one of the best and appreciated keepers in England for over a decade with Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.

The fact Friedel was 40 years old when Tottenham who were a team challenging at the top signed him proved how good he was. Howard in contrast suffered a sharp decline after the 2014 World Cup.

Are you saying that Galatasaray are the Raiders of footie? :stuck_out_tongue:

This photograph is from a training session!

To answer the question however, the greatest male American soccer player for me is Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey played in the same positon as Pulisic for Chelsea’s local rivals (just down the road), Fulham.

He was not a particularly skillful player. He was not very quick.

But he had great awareness and smart thinking to his game. And he was a good finisher. These qualities meant he scored a lot of goals for Fulham. He was not a striker but often was their top scorer. When Fulham made the Europa League Final he was sensational in the attacking partnership with Bobby Zamora. And later he moved to Tottenham. That move was a bit difficult as his limitations showed more at a bigger club and he was an older player but he still had a respectable goal tally in his only season there before returning to MLS.

Clint Dempsey got 17 goals in 37 EPL games in the 2011–12 season. That’s probably the high point for U.S. soccer football players at club level.

Pulisic has got five goals in his last three EPL games and was WhoScored man of the match in each, so he’s in a rich vein of form.

Pulisic’s current level of ability has probably now surpassed that of any previous U.S. player. Since he’s only 21, there should be a lot more improvement to come over the next few years. He looks like he will become America’s first great soccer football player and first world-class player.

Pulisic is the most talented US player of all time, yes.

Whether or not he’s “the best” would depend on what you’re taking into account. I would say that Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and probably Claudio Reyna are currently ahead of him in a ranking that considers their entire careers. But, barring injury (remember Stu Holden…) Pulisic’s career will be so far beyond those that came before that comparisons will be silly.

Tyler Adams looked very impressive last year too so hopefully Pulisic won’t be all alone on his pedestal.

This is really what I was getting at. Certainly if his career ended tomorrow (God forbid!), he wouldn’t even make the Top 10 list of greatest American soccer players ever. Barring GK’s, who are difficult to compare to field players any way, it’s safe to say no American has ever reached Pulisic’s current level of play.

Yes. Until Gio Reyna takes his place.

I’m joking…mostly. It’s probably too early to call Pulisic the best ever. But I’d rather take him over Donovan or Dempsey.

Pulisic is genuinely a star player. Can’t compare any American who came before.
Does he have any media exposure in his native land?

I hope this gets Euro scouts more willing to take a chance on young American talent. I have read that some current NFL players were considered promising soccer prospects, but went to gridiron due to better opportunities.

Team USA sure wasted his talents in 2018 by not qualifying for Russia.

I watched Howard a lot at Goodison and he was fine, but Friedel 1 or 2 levels above as you say - he was a class keeper. Howard soured his legacy somewhat at Everton by playing like an absolute cunt for the last couple of years - not sure why this happened, but no question he was a very good keeper for the majority of his time here.

Saw a bit of Donovan on loan at Everton and liked him a lot - real competitor and could play football. Easily the best US outfield player I’ve seen over here (not seen much of Pulisic yet)

John Brooks says siddown mate

But seriously, its early days.

Including keepers? If they’re excluded, he might be close. He’s currently 13th in goals and 20th in assists for the USMNT. His club career is already quite impressive.

Field players only, in no particular order, that are clearly ahead of Pulisic:

[li]Landon Donovan[/li][li]Michael Bradley[/li][li]Clint Dempsey[/li][li]DaMarcus Beasley[/li][li]Claudio Reyna[/li][li]Carlos Bocanegra[/li][li]Brian McBride[/li][li]Steve Cherundolo[/li][li]Thomas Dooley[/li][li]Jermaine Jones[/li][/ul]

Then people like Wynalda, Onyewu, Earnie Stewart, Eddie Pope are probably above him too, but it’s not as clear cut.

I might be giving a little too much credit to Pulisic, but I don’t think it’s crazy to argue he’s already top 20 even if his career ends prematurely.

What about dual nationals? Neven Subotic and Giuseppe Rossi would be ahead of him too. I’ve heard Trent Alexander Arnold was technically USA eligible as well, but never lived there or played for youth teams.

I’m sure that happens all the time, both at the “which do I choose?” stage, and even earlier when soccer isn’t really considered because it’s at best, the fourth most popular sport in the US, if not fifth.

I mean, I played high school football with a guy who was a four year letterman in soccer and something of a phenom. He ended up getting a college scholarship in football and going on to play for the University of Minnesota where he was a one-time Heisman candidate and still holds several rushing-related records.

The general consensus around our school among the athletes was that as good as he was in football, he was better yet in soccer.

Football is littered with 21 year olds who had a stellar period and then dropped off the radar.

He is having a great time now and all the best to him but his overall place in the pantheon of USA stars will be judged on the totality of his career and I don’t think he has done enough yet.