Pulisic gets 1st goal as US tops Bolivia 4-0 in Copa tuneup
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) Six weeks after becoming the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic became the youngest American in the modern era to get a goal for the national team.
Pulisic capped the match by scoring in his third national team appearance, Gyasi Zardes had his first two-goal international game and the United States routed Bolivia 4-0 in an exhibition Saturday night to sweep its three warmup matches for next month's Copa America.
"I'm just living life in the moment," Pulisic said. "It's cool stats and stuff are cool, but I just want to win this tournament coming up."
Zardes scored in the 26th and 52nd minutes around defender John Brooks' goal in the 37th. Pulisic, who left his home in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to sign with Borussia Dortmund in January 2015, connected in the 69th minute. At 17 years, 253 days, he bettered the mark set by Juan Agudelo (17-359) against South Africa in 2010.
"At such a young age, to score a goal on the senior team is quite special," said U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was 23 when he scored his first goal for West Germany.
Pulisic made his Bundesliga debut on Jan. 30 and had 12 first-team appearances, scoring against Hamburg on April 17 and Stuttgart six days later. He made his first U.S. appearance as an 81st-minute substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Guatemala on March 29.
"The guys have taken me in. They're all really nice, and it's helped me a lot that I've been with them a few weeks now," he said. "It's getting more and more comfortable. I'm making more friends."
Pulisic scored after Jermaine Jones forced a turnover. Jones exchanged passes with Darlington Nagbe, who ran past three Bolivians and rolled the ball into Pulisic's path. The teenager slid the ball past goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra's from right of the penalty spot, causing many in the crowd of 8,894 to chant his name.
He's used to going against stronger, older opponents.
"It's just what I learned since I was a little kid. My dad taught me no matter what I would play against these bigger players to just be myself," he said. "I knew that I was good enough, that I had the ability, so I never shy away from any moment, and I don't think anyone should."
At the Copa America, the U.S. plays fourth-ranked Colombia on Friday in the opener at Santa Clara, California, then faces Costa Rica four days later at Chicago and closes the first round versus Paraguay on June 11 at Philadelphia.
The 29th-ranked Americans had their largest victory margin against a South American nation, beat opponents from that continent in consecutive games for the first time and swept their three warmup matches by a combined 8-1 after defeating Puerto Rico and Ecuador.
"I think our chemistry is really good," Klinsmann said. "They realize that it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to play the Copa America here in the United States."
Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the first two goals against No. 79 Bolivia, the lowest-ranked South American nation.
The U.S. went ahead after Geoff Cameron played a 20-yard pass to Clint Dempsey, who flicked the ball to Bedoya on the right flank. He lofted a one-touch pass over a shoulder of Zardes, who streaked past defender Nelson Cabrera and let the ball take a bounce. Zardes one-timed a right-footed shot from 19 yards over the onrushing Viscarra, who was making his international debut.
Brooks doubled the lead after U.S. captain Michael Bradley rolled a through pass on a free kick from 35 yards out to Bedoya, who burst past Carmelo Algaranaz and from the corner of the 6-yard box made a sliding cutback pass in front of the goal. Brooks, 21, redirected the ball in with his left foot from 7 yards for his third international goal.
Zardes, 25, scored again after playing the ball back to Bradley in midfield. Bradley lofted a pass to Bobby Wood on the left side of the goal, Wood crossed to Zardes, who beat defender Luis Gutierrez and scored again with his left foot, this time from 6 yards.
"I think we're gelling," Zardes said.
Klinsmann shifted Matt Besler, normally a central defender, to left back in his starting lineup and put Michael Orozco at right back. Fabian Johnson replaced Besler at the start of the second half and DeAndre Yedlin came in for Orozco, joining Brooks and Cameron in central defense, the first time the likely back four for the match against Colombia played together. Cameron had not been in match since injuring a hamstring in Stoke's season finale on May 15.
"This type of game gives us confidence and motivation," Bedoya said. "We also picked up on things that we can try against Colombia."