Brad Friedel predicts Christian Pulisic to be 'most successful American' player

With an array of American talent plying their trade for some of Europe's largest clubs, Brad Friedel spoke to CardsChat about what the future could hold for the United States men's national team.

With US men's national team (USMNT) talent keeps cropping up all over Europe, American goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel spoke to CardsChat, outlining who to watch out for and what the future holds for this potentially golden generation of soccer stars.

Whether it's Weston McKennie at JuventusChristian Pulisic at Chelsea or Sergino Dest at Barcelona, the future is undeniably bright for American soccer.

With an abundance of young stars dotted across Europe's top five leagues, Friedel likened the current crop to 2002's core group of Americans, which included Claudio Reyna, John O'Brien and Friedel himself.

But how far can this new bunch go? Paddy Power have them at 60/1 for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which perhaps acknowledges the quality of talent but also suggests the American side needs to mature first and foremost.

Pulisic can go to the very top

Despite chances being few and far between for Pulisic under new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel as of yet, Friedel has faith in the American attacker to lead his national team to glory.

Forging his earlier career at Borussia Dortmund before moving to Stamford Bridge, Friedel concluded "Pulisic has the potential to be the most successful American player in mainland Europe".

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While missing out at the weekend against Southampton due to injury risk management, the former American goalkeeper insisted Pulisic needs to wait and "see what [his] relationship is like with the new head coach at Chelsea".

With increasing whispers of a move away suiting Chelsea's only American soccer star, could Pulisic perhaps search for a transfer to better develop on his potential?

Nevertheless, at Stamford Bridge or not, Friedel was brimming with praise for him, adding "at the beginning of the season, he was unplayable at times and doing really, really well".

In form or not, Friedel was unstinting in his praise, concluding that Pulisic remains "our [the USMNT] best attacking player, and we've got a few of them".

McKennie a "special" player

Flourishing under the management of Andrea Pirlo for the Old Lady, McKennie is becoming a central figure to Juventus' plans.

Operating in a number of roles across the midfield, the American's versatility, tactical understanding and work ethic are clear to see.

A number of years prior to McKennie's move to Turin, Friedel had already picked out the midfielder, stating "This kid's special. He has a lot of work to do - fitness and this, that and the other, but he's special".

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An all-action central midfielder, Friedel says McKennie has it all. "A true leader, very athletic and just a truly gifted individual and a great kid", it is hard to look past him "lifting trophies with Juventus".

Competing with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Rodrigo Bentancur and Adrien Rabiot for a midfield spot, the future looks incredibly bright for McKennie, who scored on Monday against Crotone.

Hoppe on Liverpool's radar

Having scored five goals in 12 Bundesliga appearances this season, it is fair to say Matthew Hoppe is making a name for himself at Schalke.

As a 19-year-old, the expectations are clearly on the forward to thrive, despite his rather unusual route to Schalke's academy through Barcelona's Arizona-based pathway.

With reports linking Hoppe to Anfield, Friedel said Klopp's opinion is the only one that matters. "If Klopp thinks he would be a good addition, then that would be the only approval that he would need."

However, the former American goalkeeper was happier to sit on the fence about Hoppe's future, perhaps cautious of putting too much pressure on the forward, who is still relatively young.

"Time will tell if Liverpool target Matthew Hope has the quality to make it at Liverpool," Friedel was quick to add.

But does he have the quality for someone like the Reds?

At 6ft 2in, he doesn't exactly fit the prototype of the forwards Jurgen Klopp has employed so far at Anfield.

Yet, if he continues to score goals and pull off the miraculous task of saving Schalke this season, then that is bound to make Hoppe a name spoken about across the whole of Europe.

Reyna's breakthrough at Dortmund

Initially Giovanni Reyna's move to Dortmund came as a surprise to Friedel, given "Claudio [his father] was out in Manchester City".

Ever since his arrival in Germany, Friedel said he and his fellow American colleagues were all looking to see how he's doing… "And boy, he has just done incredibly well".

It is reported that Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are interested in signing Giovanni Reyna after impressing for Borussia Dortmund
It is reported that Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are interested in signing Giovanni Reyna after impressing for Borussia Dortmund

Playing nearly 2,000 minutes across all competitions this season, Reyna is clearly held in high esteem by Edin Terzic and his management team.

Contributing four goals and six assists in 31 appearances, it is still early days for the 18-year-old Sunderland-born creative midfielder. However, there are indications he too could go to the very top.

Following the path trodden by McKennie and Hoppe by attracting interest with his Bundesliga performances, Friedel is confident Reyna could have a similar impact to Pulisic for the USMNT.

Having switched from "who's this kid?" to stating "he's another one that could do some special things on the international stage and be an incredibly good player for the US for years", Friedel is excited by the potential of this crop of youngsters and so he should be.

Experience on the big stage

Whether it's Pulisic, Reyna, Tyler Adams, Dest or Hoppe - and the list could go on - the United States have an abundance of options.

The majority of this potentially golden generation's careers are still in their relative infancy. Yet what they have is a plethora of experience at such a young age, something which Friedel says will serve them well.

"[They have] a lot of good players at a lot of big clubs and when they're playing against the big teams they're not going to be fazed, because they play against them, week in and week out."

When pressed for a comment on what to expect at the World Cup, Friedel was understandably more reluctant to go throwing about predictions.

However, he - alongside many other American soccer fans - are beginning to get excited for what the future of their national team could hold.

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