What did Tab Ramos think when he saw Christian Pulisic for the first time?
Christian Pulisic has opened plenty of eyes with his play for Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. men’s national team, and it’s something he’s been doing for a while.
Before he was a teenager, Pulisic caught the eye of current U.S. assistant coach Tab Ramos, who recalled the story of the first time he saw Pulisic play and how he recommended him to U.S. Soccer for SI’s Grant Wahl on the latest Planet Fútbol Podcast.
"I don’t know where that falls in terms of discovery, because Christian Pulisic was a great player probably when he was 6 years old, that’s how that works, so I don’t think anyone can take credit for seeing him or developing him or anything like that," Ramos said. "But I saw him when he was probably 11 or 12, it was in Washington, D.C., I was in my process of sort of learning my trade and coaching and I was coaching in the Development Academy for quite a few years. I think I was coaching an Under-16 game and I saw Christian Pulisic play for PA Classics against D.C. United. So he was in an Under-14 age group but I think he was 11 or 12.
"What attracted me to watching a little bit of the game was I was walking by to go coach my game, was the fact that I saw someone who was so little on the field. He completely looked like someone’s little brother that just jumped on the field and I was waiting for someone to get him out. Then I realized, ‘Wow, not only does he look like he doesn’t belong physically, but he’s running the show. This kid is running the show.’ He clearly was younger, smaller and didn’t look like he belonged in the game until he was around the ball. And until you watched the game for about five minutes and you realized that everybody was playing through him. And the pace of the game was completely run by him.
"Before I was finished walking around the field, I got on my phone and called U.S. Soccer immediately. … I think I called [U.S. Soccer director of scouting] Tony Lepore and Tony said something like ‘We’re aware’ or ‘We’ve been tracking’ or ‘We’ve heard about him.’ He was definitely not another player. He’s definitely a player that you don’t need a scouting system to scout, I think anyone would’ve made the call."
"I’ve done a lot of youth games. I’ve coached all the way from Under-10s to U-18s. I’ve seen a lot of games. I’ve probably coached about 400-500 youth games through eight or nine or 10 years, multiple teams to get a lot of experience. I’ve never come across a situation like that. That was the only time. I recall it like it was yesterday, because it’s not the norm."
Pulisic and the U.S. look to get back on track in World Cup qualifying Tuesday night, facing Costa Rica in San Jose, where the U.S. is 0-9-1 all time.