There were barely any positives in the loss to Bayern, maybe the biggest being the match ended after 90 minutes. The shame of this performance will last for a long-time and even though it is one match, the same deficiencies that have at times been hidden by formations or superb performances cast doubt on its ability to meet the goal of qualifying for the Champions League.
So of course it is a perfect time to bring back An American in Dortmund to analyse the play of Christian Pulisic.
Last we left the Hershey, PA native the U.S. had missed the World Cup and we thought the time off this summer would help him recover from a nearly full season of Bundesliga play. Then Bosz was sacked and Stoeger began tinkering with formations and lineups in the (seemingly) quixotic attempt to find the perfect starting XI. Around this time Pulisic started to suffer a downturn in form, mixed with occasional injuries. The result is his seemingly assured spot in the starting XI again became a battle for playing time.
It seemed like a good omen then that he won a start over Max Philipp in an important match like the Bayern one. However, the same malaise that affected the entire squad affected him as well. In the first half, Pulisic made some good runs, especially from the back where he was dragged back to defend. He got the best of Jerome Boateng a few times by using his speed but the end product was lacking. Specifically, he tried to cross the ball into the box rather than take on a defender or create a shot. Around the fifteenth minute, he had a prime chance to cut back and try a shot near post, but instead attempted to put the ball across the net and find Batshuayi. Of course the pass was intercepted.
It as not until the second half that the American turned these pass attempts into shots. Instead of looking to cross the ball once the game was out of hand, Pulisic began to try and put the ball on goal. The result was no better of course but it showed Pulisic – like he does for his national side – can be a chance creator when inspired. The key for his continued development will be to pick his chances, and know when to set-up teammates and when to try for goal in a system like Dortmnd’s.
Pulisic was swapped for Max Philipp late in the match, but it is hard to read too much into the move when everyone was poor. The key will be in the next few matches and what his role in the squad will be.