PHILADELPHIA -- Christian Pulisic said he couldn't remember the last time he played a game in his home state of Pennsylvania. Chances are he'll remember the next one.
The Hershey, Penn. native has a chance of seeing the field on Saturday when the United States takes on Paraguay in the Americans' group stage finale of the Copa America Centenario. A win or a draw will see the U.S. progress to the knockout stage. Lose, and they'll be eliminated.
But Pulisic isn't thinking about that just yet. While his father, Mark, accompanied him to Germany after Christian joined up with Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, there are plenty of other family members he hasn't seen in awhile.
"It's awesome to be in my home state right now," he said prior to Thursday's practice. "I'm really excited to be close to my family and friends. It's amazing to be here with the national team.
"A lot [of family members will be there] too many to count, a lot of people supporting me."
Those in attendance will be looking at a player who has made immense strides in the last year.
Pulisic made his first appearances with the Dortmund first team and set impressive marks in the process. On April 17 against Hamburg, Pulisic became the youngest foreign-born player to score a goal in the Bundesliga at 17 years, 212 days, and the fourth youngest ever in the Bundesliga. He also became the youngest player ever to score two Bundesliga goals. But Pulisic is the first to play down any talk of records, focusing more on just improving his game.
"I learned a lot in the Bundesliga, just playing with these very physical players, playing quickly," he said. "The speed of play there has really helped me earn a spot here with the national team.
"I haven't been here too much, but I'm learning a lot here as well and I'll take that back to Germany."
Pulisic has enjoyed early success with the U.S. as well. His goal in a 4-0 rout of Bolivia made him the youngest-ever U.S. goalscorer in the modern era. Yet U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has resisted the call to throw Pulisic into the international deep end. In every appearance to date, Pulisic has come off the bench.
"He has certain characteristics in his game that can make a difference," said Klinsmann. "That's why he already played Champions League overseas [with Borussia Dortmund] because he's fearless, he takes people on, so he's always there to surprise the opponent.
"But he's in an early learning curve so we look after him to make sure we keep him protected."
Make no mistake, Pulisic is ambitious, but insisted that he is simply trying to contribute to the U.S. team in any way he can.
"Everyone keeps telling me, 'You're only 17,'" he said. "I don't look at it like that. I'm just one of the guys, a member of the team. Just doing what I can to be the best player I can be."
Whether his home-state crowd will get to see him on Saturday is still to be determined, but if they do they'll witness a player who is playing well beyond his 17 years.
"I just try to show no fear when I go on the field every time."