Borussia Dortmund's USMNT midfielder Christian Pulisic says he is ready to take the next step in his career, having already established himself in the Bundesliga.
Pulisic, 19, is no longer the new kid on the block, having hit the ground running – and continued to run since arriving at the Westphalians. The Hershey native has come of age quickly at Signal Iduna Park and, with his name growing across the world, he no longer has a reputation to build, but rather one to enhance.
Watch: Dortmund's wonderkid, Christian Pulisic
"Now that I'm at a higher level and playing in the Bundesliga, you think more of it as your job," Pulisic told Sports Illustrated. "How can I become the best? How can I take a certain aspect of the game and improve that to make myself better overall?
"Of course, we play because we always love the game. But it's about figuring out what you need to take that next step. That's what I think about now."
Pulisic may have already mastered the basics, but one of the fundamental parts of his game is something he swears he will never neglect. In fact, he says his first touch is the aspect he has to work on if he is to improve his own game and, in turn, enjoy success: individually and with his team.
"My coaches taught me a lot about taking the first touch positively," he said. "I think that's what I've tried to base my game off of. A big part of it is being aggressive. It's not just about getting the ball and figuring out every time how you can keep possession, because there are plenty of players who can do that."
"That's just not how I view my performances," Pulisic continued. "It's about: what can I do to change the game and the attacking aspect of the game? That’s how I look at it every time. Every single player is just doing what you can to keep our defender off balance so he has no idea what's coming next.
"It's knowing which direction to take your first touch, and not just receiving it. A lot of times, it's not about stopping the ball under your foot and not having any options after that. It's putting yourself in a good position for what you want to do with it."
And where is that good position for Pulisic?
"It's being positive and going towards the goal because that's my position," he said. "I'm an attacking midfielder."
Watch: 60 seconds under pressure with Pulisic
Pulisic's stats suggest he has a pretty decent grasp of that. With four goals and six assists this season, he is carrying on from where he left off in his debut campaign for Dortmund, edging closer to the next level he says he is seeking.
But don't just take the stats as a marker. According to his team-mate Nuri Sahin, Pulisic is making visible progress. "He's fearless," Sahin said. "He has so much speed, but what I like the most is his first touch. When he gets the ball, his first touch opens him a huge space, even if there is no space."
When he gets the ball, "that first look always goes forward," added Pulisic. Much like his general, forward-thinking approach to life.