Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Soccer star Christian Pulisic penned an article for The Players' Tribune, explaining the USMNT's loss and the problem with United States soccer.
Pulisic, 19, currently plays for Borussia Dortmund. He joined the Bundesliga club by moving to Germany at the age of 16. He played in the U.S. youth system, attending camps, academies, residency programs, playing on travel teams and more.
Pulisic said he is "not a prodigy or a wonderboy."
"I was always, you know, a decent player growing up," he wrote. "And yes, I was born with a certain amount of so-called 'natural ability.' But I also worked and sacrificed a lot to try to maximize what I was born with - which I think is important to point out. I think it's important to make clear, you know, that the problem with American soccer...it isn't talent."
He said he is "lucky" to hold a Croatian passport. Because of his dual citizenship, he was able to train at Dortmund academy at just 16-years-old. If he didn't hold the passport, he would have had to wait until he was 18-years-old.
"And for a soccer player...man, ask anyone and they'll tell you - those age 16-18 years are everything," Pulisic wrote in The Players' Tribune. "From a developmental perspective, it's almost like this sweet spot: It's the age where a player's growth and skill sort of intersect, in just the right way - and where, with the right direction, a player can make their biggest leap in development by far."
"In the U.S. system, too often the best player on an under-17 team will be treated like a "star" - not having to work for the ball, being the focus of the offense at all times, etc. - at a time when they should be having to fight tooth and nail for their spot. In Europe, on the other hand, the average level of ability around you is just so much higher. It's a pool of players where everyone has been "the best player," and everyone is fighting for a spot - truly week in and week out. Which makes the intensity and humility that you need to bring to the field every day - both from a mental and physical perspective - just unlike anything that you can really experience in U.S. developmental soccer."
"Without those experiences, there's simply no way that I would be at anywhere close to the level that I am today."
"And so I really just wonder, you know: Why is it that E.U. players are allowed to move country once they turn 16...but non-Europeans can only do so at 18? Why aren't we campaigning for a level playing field, where our best 16 year olds - who may not have an E.U. passport like I had - are free to move when they turn 16, like the best young players in Europe can? And in the meanwhile, as long as some of our best young players aren't getting the opportunity like I had to go to Europe when they're 16 ... are we doing everything in our power to make sure the level of play in U.S. soccer is high enough so that they can continue to develop up to their maximum potential? So that they can continue to develop until they are allowed to play at the top level their talent dictates - wherever that is in the world?"
According to FIFA rules, players can't leave their native countries for clubs in other countries until they are 18-years-old.
The Bartra finish was pretty, but how about that nutmeg by Pulisic?? 😳 https://t.co/LWEH30eLva— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 4, 2017
Pulisic admitted being "depressed" after the USMNT's loss in October to Trinidad and Tobago. Players can leave their native country for another club in another country if their parents move within the European Union and they are between 16 and 18-years-old.
Borussia Dortmund faces VfB Stuttgart at 2:30 p.m. Friday in a Bundesliga matchup at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Germany. Pulisic last scored for the club on Sept. 20 in a 3-0 win against Hamburg SV.