Becoming the next Christian Pulisic, by the man who brought the USA's brightest soccer star to Borussia Dortmund
The man responsible for bringing Christian Pulisic to Borussia Dortmund has urged America's top soccer prospects to travel to Europe if they hope to develop into the world-class players of tomorrow.
Rob Moore, founder of the London-based football consultancy On Target, argues that the best way for US soccer to recover from the disappointment of not reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup is to encourage the country's most talented young players to take the plunge and move across the pond. In time, he believes that could transform the US Men's National Team into a genuine force to be reckoned with.
Watch: Christian Pulisic tackles your pressing questions
"I'm trying to set the bar higher," the South African explained in an interview with The Ringer. "I'm trying to play a small role in helping America have more world-class players at the absolute top, which by definition will be few and far between. But the biggest challenge is the step just below that - in other words, getting more Americans playing at good clubs in good leagues in Europe. That's what I'm trying to do."
Moore was the man Mark Pulisic - Christian's father - got in touch with when he was looking to find his 14-year-old son a place at one of Europe's top academies. Pulisic had been invited for a trial with Barcelona at their La Masia academy, but Moore felt that the Bundesliga - with its emphasis on youth development - would be a better fit, and he consequently secured the American prodigy an offer from Dortmund in early 2015. The rest, as they say, is history.
"Together with Rob and my family, we could see that Dortmund was the best place for my development," Pulisic himself admitted. "We haven't looked back since."
Not all American players have had Pulisic's good fortune when it comes to making an early start in Europe - although a handful of the Bundesliga's current USA stars, including John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), were born in Germany and also possess dual citizenship. Others, such as Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie and Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent, had to wait until they turned 18 before signing pro terms on the old continent.
"If you have the opportunity to come to Europe, I would say for me... 100 per cent take it!" McKennie told ESPN FC. "No offence to MLS or anything, but you can say that the Bundesliga is a better league. If it's the right choice, if everything fits, if everything makes sense, I would say come."
McKennie is one of three Americans on the books at Schalke, along with another two of Moore's clients: Nick Taitague and Haji Wright, who is currently on loan at Bundesliga 2 side Sandhausen. In total, the 54-year-old has placed 11 young Americans at European clubs, and his latest unpolished gem - 16-year-old Taylor Booth - has been linked with a move to the Bundesliga.