Christian Pulisic reached a Bundesliga milestone in Saturday's thirlling 4-4 Revierderbydraw with with the Borussia Dortmund starlet becoming the third-youngest player after FIFA World Cup winner Julian Draxler and RB Leipzig's Timo Werner to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances.
bundesliga.com celebrates Dortmund's precocious USA talent by highlighting the key dates in his remarkable trajectory from rising talent to bona fide first-teamer for club and country in less than two years.
30 January 2016: Bundesliga debut
"We saw that coming." The USA coach at the time, Jürgen Klinsmann, was not as surprised by the sight of Pulisic replacing Adrian Ramos 22 minutes from time of a 2-0 win over Ingolstadt as many of those unaware of the diamond Dortmund had been lovingly polishing up for this moment.
"I've worked very hard for this day," commented Pulisic, aged just 17 years and 133 days as the eighth-youngest Bundesliga debutant at the time, after taking the first step down the road to becoming the second-most famous export from his Pennsylvanian hometown of Hershey.
"He has shown the courage from training also in the match today," then-Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel said after the game. Three weeks later, Tuchel showed more of his own courage and faith in Pulisic, handing the youngster his first Bundesliga start in a 1-0 win against Leverkusen.
18 February 2016: youngest American to play in UEFA competition
A Round of 32 UEFA Europa League game may not be the grandest of stages on which to make US football history, but Pulisic did that in a 2-0 win over Porto. Though he only played the last three minutes as a late substitute, it was another important step in a career that was accelerated by his Croatian heritage.
"As a result of my dual citizenship, I've been able to play in Europe, training at the Dortmund academy, since I was 16. Without it? I would have had to wait until I was 18. And for a soccer player … man, ask anyone and they'll tell you — those age 16–18 years are everything," Pulisic later 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."
17 April 2016: youngest non-German, fourth-youngest Bundesliga scorer
Having thrown Pulisic in at the deep end and found that not only could he swim, but that he could cause quite a splash, Tuchel kept faith with his young charge. Further reward for that belief came seven minutes before half-time of the Matchday 30 game with Hamburg. "I didn’t know what to think to be honest. I was just focused on my celebration," said Pulisic having brought dabbing to Dortmund at the age of 17 years, six months and 30 days.
Watch: Pulisic finds the net for the very first time in the Bundesliga
"I was so excited to finally get my first goal in the Bundesliga. It was just amazing." When he found the net against Stuttgart six days later, he was the youngest-ever Bundesliga player with two goals to his name.
28 May 2016: youngest USMNT scorer in modern era
After his Bundesliga debut, Klinsmann had pondered where Pulisic might go with his country having played up to only Under-17 level at that stage. "It makes us think obviously so how can we kind of fill the right slot for Christian over the next couple of months as well," said the former Bayern Munich forward and coach. "Is he maybe already down the road ready for getting a taste with us?".
The California-based tactician decided Pulisic was. He handed him his debut against Guatemala in March to make the BVB man the youngest-ever USMNT first-timer in a World Cup qualifier before he found the net in a friendly against Bolivia to become his nation's most precocious goalscorer at just 17 years and 253 days.
14 Sept. 2016: Dortmund's youngest UEFA Champions League player
The Polish capital, Warsaw, saw Pulisic come of age, albeit still a very young one, as he made his bow in European club football's premier competition a handful of days before his 18th birthday. Overawed by the occasion? Not a chance. He may not have been old enough to legally buy a whisky in Germany, but he was already sufficiently mature to terrorise the Legia defence. As the youngest American to feature in the competition, he even registered an assist — teeing up Gonzalo Castro for the fifth — in a 6-0 canter. Tellingly, he had more touches in the opposition penalty area — 15 to be precise — than any other player in the competition's opening round of fixtures. What was that Tuchel said about courage?
8 March 2017: youngest USA Champions League scorer
DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones and Fabian Johnson had all done it before him. Jovan Kirovski had even done it for Dortmund, but Pulisic chalked up yet another milestone when he found the net in the Last 16 win over Benfica, the youngest of the seven Americans to have scored in the competition. After recording an assist to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike, Pulisic then raced onto Lukasz Piszczek's pass before brilliantly lifting the ball over the advancing Ederson, the now-Manchester City goalkeeper beaten by a sublime cool-headed finish beyond Pulisic's tender years.
"Quite honestly, that way of chipping it is something Auba has given me. As for the goal itself: Lukasz Piszczek gave me a really perfect pass. I only had to make the run at the right time and put it in." Easy, isn't it?!?
27 May 2017: youngest American to win a major European trophy
The bomb attack that hit the Dortmund team coach en route to the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final with Monaco was a huge black cloud over the 2016/17 campaign, but the season ended on a high for Die Schwarzgelben and Pulisic in particular. Involved in nine Bundesliga goals, scoring three himself, Pulisic saved the best for the last of his 43 competitive appearances in his most complete season to date.
"It was really special, especially after a tough season like that with a lot of ups and downs," said Pulisic after claiming the USA's first major winner's medal in European football with a DFB Cup final win over Eintracht Frankfurt. "To finish it with a trophy was just a really good feeling. Just to see the excitement on [my teammates'] faces after that was just really amazing to me."
25 November 2017: 50th Bundesliga appearance in the Revierderby
Pulisic matched reaching his appearance milestone with one of the biggest days of the season for Dortmund in the current 2017/18 season. The Revierderby is one of Germany's fiercest rivalries but the encounter on Matchday 13 is one Pulisic would likely rather forget, as Dortmund allowed a four goal lead to slip at home to the Royal Blues of Schalke, who scored a 94th minute equaliser to draw an end to one of the best Revierderby matches ever played.
It is certain to not be his final derby, though, and the teenager will be chomping at the bit for the return fixture at the Veltins Arena to come on Matchday 30. Some positives that came from the game for Pulisic, though, were his continue record-breaking. He became Dortmund's youngest player to reach 50 appearanes, as well as the youngest non-German to reach the number in the Bundesliga. Added to that a first appearance against friend and compatriot Weston McKennie of Schalke and it is one of the milestone days in the young star's career.