PANAMA CITY -- United States manager Bruce Arena said that while Borussia Dortmund deserves "a lot of the credit" for developing budding star Christian Pulisic, the U.S. player-development system deserves some plaudits as well.
Pulisic turned in a dazzling performance in Friday's 6-0 demolition of Honduras, delivering a goal and two assists. That was in line with the form he has shown for Dortmund this season, one that has seen him score five goals in 31 league and cup appearances.
But Arena emphasized that in addition to playing in Dortmund's youth system, Pulisic also spent time at the U.S. U17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida. Prior to that, Pulisic played for Manheim, Pennsylvania-based club PA Classics in the USSF's Development Academy.
"[Pulisic] was grown as a player here in the U.S.," Arena said during a roundtable with reporters. "Don't piss on our system, which everyone wants to do. 'It's not possible that we could have a good player that came out of here. There has to be a reason for it.' And the reason is obviously because he went to Germany.
"He was going to be a good player wherever he went. Maybe that was exactly the perfect environment for him, you could argue that. I don't doubt that. But when he left here he was a good player. They didn't [invent him]. He was a pretty good player when he left here."
Arena added that overall, American players are more sophisticated now than in the past, and not as "raw" as they were years ago.
"In the past, a number of [U.S. players] were inexperienced and didn't have the club experiences they have today," Arena said. "All of these guys are fixtures in their club teams, played internationally whether it's club team or national team play. They're much more experienced guys, they're not as naive as they once were, so that's a plus."
Arena stressed that the challenges for playing for the U.S. team are still immense.
"At times, your club teams don't want you going, you're tested with travel, the fixture schedules are jammed now, they're really tested," he said.
"You really have to have a passion about doing this. We're fortunate in that we have a group of guys who want to be here. There might be one or two guys that don't, but for the most part these guys want to be here."