Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are widely seen as some of the best soccer players the USA has ever produced, but not one of them can hold a candle to Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, according to former USMNT international Eddie Johnson.
Johnson, who hung up his playing boots in 2015 before turning to coaching, has been training one-to-one with Pulisic in recent days, helping the midfield ace gear up for the new Bundesliga campaign at the FreeKick Center in Orlando, Florida.
"He's the best American player that I've ever seen since I started playing soccer as a kid in the USA," Johnson told the Seattle Sounders' Winging It pod cast. "Having played with Claudio Reyna, having played Landon Donovan, having played with Clint Dempsey - where he's at now, with his experience and how he sees the game and how he understands the game he's miles and miles ahead of everyone else."
Sharpening @cmpulisic tools. Great exercise that I created where I incorporated movement with and with out the ball,passing,receiving, balance changing directions and a ball work exercise that consist of controlling the ball with different surfaces of the feet to create space and time to get out a of tight space off the dribble and to see a pass again. not physically demanding but all game realistic movements to get his body back in toon with those familiar Movements and feel for the ball again after his break #lovewhatyoudo #dowhatyoulove #youareyourenvironment #protraining #trainlikeapro #positivevibes #positiveliving #usa #soccer #hardworkdedication @freekickcenter
It's impossible to disagree. Swapping his American homeland for Dortmund at the age of 16, Pulisic has been flying high in the career fast lane ever since. He made his Bundesliga debut in January 2016 - the first of 70 outings in the German top flight to date - and has broken all manner of records at senior international level with the USA. So how did the USA Men's National Team's 2017 Player of the Year come to be training with Johnson?
"A kid like Pulisic, who's hungry and driven and is supposed to take a break at the end of the season - he reached out to me on Instagram and said 'Hey, I'm going to be back in the States, are you available? In my off-season, I'd love to come out to Orlando and get some work in with you'," Johnson told the Seattle Sounders' Winging It with Zakuani podcast. "He took 10 days off, but he's unbelievable. So tidy in his ability to receive and turn, create space. His movement with and without the ball, it's unbelievable. This kid's ability to create half a hard, find the back post, front post. His first touch is everything. His first touch always sets him up for his next touch. The kid's always so relaxed, it was just a real joy and honour."
Watch: Christian Pulisic's Bundesliga Goal of the Month for April
Pulisic will reconvene with his Dortmund teammates for pre-season training on 7 July, before returning to the USA to play in the International Champions Cup later in the month. The 2018/19 campaign, which Dortmund begin at home to RB Leipzig on 25 August, will be the 19-year-old's third full season as a Bundesliga player.