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Christian Pulisic on USMNT’s future: We want to be respected around the world

Christian Pulisic (10) kicks the ball at Orlando City Soccer Stadium on Oct. 6, 2018. (Aileen Perilla/Orlando Sentinel)

ORLANDO, Fla. — What Christian Pulisic wants – what the entire United States Soccer Federation is trying to achieve with the U.S. men’s national team – is going to take time.

Pulsic wants the U.S. to be feared and respected as a “world force” in soccer. He knows the country has a long way to go, but he’s confident in the vision for the future. That vision includes him, as well as a few other young stars, mastering new coach Gregg Berhalter’s system.

“We want to be respected around the world,” Pulsic said. “We’re going to continue to work at that.

“There’s a lot of good talent here that I’ve seen already. We have a long way to go, we’re learning a whole new system, we have a new coach. It’s just the start, but yeah, we can do it.”

The young star said he’s been “amazed” by how much information Berhalter has been able to get across in just a few days of camp. The USMNT began training at Omni ChampionsGate on Monday ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Ecuador at Orlando City Stadium.

“It’s been good,” Pulisic said. “It’s cool to have a fresh face. A new coach, new staff. I think the guys are just, yeah, we feel like we kind of have a new beginning now. A fresh start. A good coach to help us, who I think has a good style. I think everyone’s just hungry right now and really excited because they want to be a part of this team moving forward.”

This camp has been Berhalter’s first opportunity to work with Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, three 20-year-old stars who are considered key pieces of the USMNT’s future.

Berhalter hasn’t been shy about discussing his plans for his young stars, including Pulisic.

“We want to find a spot where [Pulisic] can affect the game and he can get more out of his teammates and also put him in position to score goals and make assists,” Berhalter said.

“In this camp, we’re going to look at him as the No. 10. As the No. 10 slanted to the left. We played with two No. 10s last camp, we’re going to do the same this camp. Within that structure, what you’ve seen is there is flexibility.”

Pulisic said he’s “definitely” still motivated by the U.S. men’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and is on board with Berhalter’s plans.

“I think it’s a really good position for me,” Pulisic said. “Obviously, I don’t mind where I play on the field, I just like to be in an attacking area where I can create and help the team score goals because that’s where I feel I’m at my best.

“I like the style that [Berhalter] has and I like that position a lot.”

He added, “He’s tried to explain his system to me and I understood what he was trying to get at and I liked it and obviously I’ve only been in camp for two, three days. I still have a long way to go. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but yeah, it’s been positive so far.”

Pulisic said he feels like he’s at the top of his game right now after dealing with some injury setbacks that have caused his campaign with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund to be somewhat inconsistent.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” he said. “You know, we started off so strong and unfortunately I’ve had some injuries kind of on and off throughout the season, which has been a low point for me. I’ve been working on that and trying to keep myself healthy for the reason of the season. Yeah, it’s been really exciting. Obviously, I’m super-excited to be there the rest of the season and fight for the title. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Dortmund is in a tight race with Bundesliga titans Bayern Munich for the league title. When asked about the title race going on for his club team, Pulsic said, “It’s going to be good.”

He’s looking to finish his time with Dortmund with a league title before a summer transfer to Premier League side Chelsea.

“I feel very confident right now,” Pulisic said. “I’m feeling very good. I feel like I’m at the top of my game so I’m ready to… I want to play as much as I can over in Dortmund. I’m not there to just finish out my time. I want to fight, and they know that. I’m also excited to be back here and get some games with the U.S.”

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