Christian Pulisic made United States Men's National Team history in club soccer's biggest game on Saturday.
Subbed on for Chelsea in the 66th minute, Pulisic became the first USMNT player to appear in the UEFA's Champions League Final. Chelsea won 1-0 over Premier League rivals Manchester City, who had former Maryland goalkeeper Zach Steffen on its bench.
The youngest ever captain for the United States, Pulisic's high-profile path from a teenage phenom in the German Bundesliga youth ranks to becoming North America's most expensive transfer of all time was meant to culminate in a moment as special as this.
“I’m just so proud to be here,” Pulisic said postgame. “It's been a difficult road for me. I couldn’t imagine winning the Champions League ever in my life, and now I’m here.”
Even better for the Hershey, Pa. 22-year-old: He got to celebrate the big moment with his parents, both of whom played soccer at nearby George Mason.
Pulisic was fast tracked through Dortmund's youth system before breaking through for 13 goals in 90 appearances for the German club. Then in January 2019, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich shelled out $73 million to secure his talents and blistering speed.
Muscle pulls and strains has hampered Pulisic's young career, even after he had a strong summer last year for Chelsea during the Premier League's summer restart, but he never wavered. Now, his name will be etched in the Champions League history books.
Though former Dortmund center back Neven Subotic was the first American to appear in the game when Bayern lifted the Champions League trophy in 2013, Subotic represented Serbia at the senior level. LA Galaxy technical director Jovan Kirovski became the first American to win the Champions League with Dortmund in 1997, but was injured for the final.
When Pulisic did come on to make USMNT history, he nearly scored five minutes into his appearance to double Chelsea's lead. The lone goalscorer, Kai Havertz, slipped him through on goal with a pass but Pulisic's shot went on the wrong side of the post.
Though he didn't manage to end up on the scoresheet, Pulisic's name will be forever remembered for taking American soccer to new heights.