LOS ANGELES – Following his first-ever match against an MLS opponent, Christian Pulisic was struck most by the moment his team fell behind.
“I actually wasn’t even out on the bench at that time, but I heard it through the whole stadium,” the US national team star said of Aaron Kovar’s 77th-minute strike, the opening goal in Tuesday night’s 1-1 international friendly between LAFC and Borussia Dortmund. “Right away I kind of knew it wasn’t for us, so that was not good, but that atmosphere here was unbelievable.
“It was awesome to see in America, especially,” Pulisic said of the experience.
That’s not to say the match was devoid of intensity. An open, flowing affair, both teams attacked at will and had plenty of chances to carve out a winner. The crowd at Banc of California Stadium seemed to hype players on both sides to commit themselves, several going into tackles a little harder than they might otherwise, something Pulisic experienced in a run-in with LAFC captain Laurent Ciman.
Their exchange at halftime prompted one journalist to ask what message had been discussed.
“[Ciman was] checking to see if I was okay, I think, from some of the tackles,” said Pulisic. “It was just kind of a mutual respect thing.”
If there was anything to take from the draw Tuesday night, it was just that: respect.
Pulisic said LAFC played at “a good level” that “tested” Dortmund, but what stuck out was the atmosphere.
“I used to play youth national team camps here and now that they have another team here, it’s awesome,” said Pulisic of his impressions of LAFC. “I’ve always known that the soccer culture around this area in L.A. has always been really good.”
The City of Angels continues to respond to its new team, packing the downtown venue for the midweek friendly.
Pulisic, who will now take part in the USMNT’s friendly against Bolivia on Monday in Philadelphia (6:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN), expressed that he was happy to be home and have the creature comforts of American life at his disposal.
“There’s so many things,” Pulisic pondered when asked what he misses most when he’s away from the States. “Number one is probably Chipotle.”
When asked if he’d ever consider returning to play in MLS, he responded: “I would never count out playing in America one day.”
“Not quite yet,” he laughed, adding that the league is well on its way. “[MLS] definitely has the capability to become a great world league.”