On Sunday, Christian Pulisic scored a hat-trick to lift the U.S. to a 5-1 rout of Panama — all but assuring a spot in the World Cup after the Americans failed to qualify in 2017.
The U.S. stands in second place in the CONCACAF table and will secure one of three automatic bids if they don’t lose by a five-goal margin against Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Pulisic is arguably already a world-class star with Chelsea, but on the precipice of his first World Cup, can he launch his own USMNT legend following in the footsteps of Landon Donovan?
- The 23-year-old became the most expensive North American transfer of all time ($73M) when Borussia Dortmund sold him to Chelsea in 2019.
- Pulisic’s 12th career goal in WC qualifiers put him one behind Donovan for third all-time.
- He has 21 goals in 47 national team appearances; Donovan’s 57 in 157 are tied for the most in American history.
- Donovan’s five WC goals are the most for a male American player and led them to the 2002 quarterfinals as a 20-year-old.
Chelsea are currently controlled by the British government and up for sale following sanctions against former owner Roman Abramovich. The short list is down to four American bids, including that of Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.
The change of ownership could conceivably put Pulisic on the market this summer, at which point several big European clubs will try to snap him up — even before he gets to shine in November’s World Cup in Qatar.