United States' Christian Pulisic 'thankful' for Tuchel's influence
DENVER -- Borussia Dortmund and U.S. international midfielder Christian Pulisic expressed his gratitude to former manager Thomas Tuchel for the impact the coach had on his career.
Tuchel and Dortmund parted ways back on May 30, completing a two-year run at the club.
"I'm just very thankful for everything [Tuchel] did for me," Pulisic said during a promotional event for Panini America on Monday. "It's tough in professional sports when a coach has to go like this, especially after a pretty good season. But we're excited to see who we get and I think the team will be just fine."
It was early in Tuchel's tenure with BVB that he gave Pulisic his first experiences with Dortmund's first team. Pulisic repaid that faith, becoming the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga at 17 years, six months and 30 days, and fourth-youngest player overall to score in the league. The 18-year-old has made steady, and at times spectacular progress since.
"Tuchel always just trusted me and gave me a chance," said Pulisic. "Of course he's given me tips and feedback with what he sees every day in training and stuff like that, small things."
Tuchel's last game in charge was a 2-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal final, Pulisic's first trophy as a professional and one that will linger long in his memory.
"It was really special, especially after a tough season like that with a lot of ups and downs," said Pulisic. "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."
The absolute bottom of Dortmund's season came just before the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Monaco, when the team bus was hit by twin explosions on its way to the stadium. Pulisic admits that the process of dealing with those events is still ongoing.
"It's something that never really goes away," he said. "You try to move on from it, but it happened and we're lucky that nothing worse happened. Now we're just going to be thankful, and appreciative that we have life and we're still here."
When asked when he felt capable of playing again after the attack, Pulisic said: "Definitely not a day after when we had to play Champions League. But as the weeks went by, you move on from it. It's more in the past now of course, and it's not affecting me now that I'm playing or anything like that. It's just something that's always there and it happened."
Pulisic is now focused on the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers the U.S. has against Trinidad & Tobago on June 8 and then Mexico three days later. The team has spent the past week getting acclimated to the altitude that will be present in both matches. It's also his latest chance to get used to manager Bruce Arena, who replaced Jurgen Klinsmann last November.
"Arena has taught me a lot, and I think the team feels really confident and comfortable with him," he said. "He has a lot of experience that he'll help us with going into these tough CONCACAF games."
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.