Toby Alderweireld

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USMNT’s Pulisic reflects on big night; Lalas’ comments

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WEMBLEY — His 19th birthday is next week. Remember that.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Christian Pulisic put in yet another superb display for Borussia Dortmund but they lost 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Speaking in the mixed zone afterwards, a downbeat Pulisic, 18, reflected on his display as he tore Tottenham apart in the first half, had a goal disallowed and battled against the best defense in the Premier League.

He wants those calls back as Dortmund had a second, more contentious, goal chalked off for offside.

“Things didn’t go our way and that’s how the sport is sometimes. We had to take some other chances but things didn’t go our way with decisions and other things,” Pulisic said. “I have to see them again but my goal in the first half, I guess Auba was off but he didn’t touch it. I don’t know if he was offside. The second one I didn’t think was offside. Obviously refs make mistakes and the game just changed after that.”

Pulisic was everywhere in the first half, giving both Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld a tough time from the left but he told Pro Soccer Talk he still wants to do better.

“I always tried to bring confidence to the game. I still need to do more and create goals and score goals. I couldn’t do it today,” Pulisic said.

Pulisic started out on the left and had plenty of touches early on, ghosting between Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld. His run and cross led to an attack which eventually saw Andriy Yarmolenko curl in a stunner for Dortmund’s opener. In the 19th minute Pulisic cut inside and his shot deflected off Alderweireld and went out for a corner.

The Kid kept going.

He then raced clear on the half hour mark and his cross to the back post towards Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang was brilliantly cleared by Jan Vertonghen. A great chance then arrived for Pulisic with Aubemayang the provider but the Hershey, PA native couldn’t get enough on his effort as he stretched to get on the end of the cross.

Right on half time Dortmund could have been level with Pulisic scoring at the back post as he controlled and finished calmly.

The offside flag was up way before he finished, but although Aubameyang appeared to be in an offside position he didn’t touch the ball. The jury is out as to whether or not he was interfering with play.

That was the kind of night it was and Pulisic is getting used to it.

“This is how professional soccer is now. Of course it’s a lot for me, it’s my first year, but now my second year playing this many games,” Pulisic said. “I’m getting used to it. My body is okay. It is how it is. I always prepare myself to play every single game.”

With the season in full flow with Dortmund as they chase a Bundesliga title and aim to get back on track, the USMNT’s crucial World Cup qualifiers next month are never far from his mind.

“Obviously now I am focusing on Dortmund. We have big games coming up. But it’s there,” Pulisic admitted. “We have to do everything we can and I am going to do everything I can do to help us qualify.”

Over the weekend Fox Soccer analyst Alexi Lalas called out Tim Howard, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore to step up for the USA.

He also rounded on Pulisic, saying “even you, wonder boy” when asking the U.S. to win key World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago next month. What did Pulisic think about Lalas’ comments?

“I heard about it. I am not going to lose sleep about what Alexi Lalas has to say about us. He can say what he wants,” Pulisic laughed.

The Kid is growing up.

Before kick off Pascal Girwert was walking down Wembley Way with a beer in his hand, his friends by his side and Christian Pulisic’s name and number on the back of his Dortmund jersey.

“He is a very, very, very big talent. Now that Ousmane Dembele has left us, he has a place in our team for every match. We are very happy to have him,” Girwert, a Dortmund fan who had traveled to London for the game, explained.

Are Dortmund worried about him leaving as his star continues to rise?

“Dortmund is the biggest thing he can reach!” Girwert laughed. “I love that he is very happy at Dortmund. He likes to play and doesn’t want to move. That makes us very sympathetic to him. We are very happy to have him.”

After the game Dortmund’s coach Peter Bosz was very complimentary when asked by Pro Soccer Talk about his teenage talent.

“He is a huge talent and I still see room for progression. This is not the end of his journey,” Bosz said. “He has a lot of quality. He shows us in training and also showed it in the game. He is still 18. Big talent.”

With Pulisic’s cousin, Will, in Dortmund’s youth team as a goalkeeper last season, the fans at Dortmund are quite eager to help nurture more young American players.

“It would be brilliant for Dortmund to have more American kids to come to us, but also for American soccer. He usually plays off the right for us. It is a very good position for him. I think the quality of the Dortmund team is much better than the USA national team, so maybe that’s why he plays in the middle,” Girwert chuckled.

He, Pulisic and the rest of Dortmund’s fans weren’t chuckling at the end of the game as Spurs ran out winners but the teenager from Pennsylvania can take solace from the fact that he tormented one of the best defenses in the Premier League multiple times.

Every time you watch him in a big game he steps up and there is plenty more to come from the kid who turns 19 next week.

Reflecting on a short stint when he trained with Tottenham as a youngster over a decade ago while his family moved to England for a year, Pulisic was reflective about how far he’d come in such a short period of time.

“Those were great times,” Pulisic said. “It is pretty crazy playing at Wembley for the first time and it is pretty special, coming this far.”

Three things we learned from Tottenham vs. Dortmund

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WEMBLEY — Tottenham Hotspur against Borussia Dortmund was one of the most eagerly anticipated games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

It delivered. Big time.

[ RECAP: Spurs 3-1 BVB ]

Three stunning goals were scored inside the opening 15 minutes with Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane netting after driving runs, then Andriy Yarmolenko curling in a beauty at the other end. Dortmund had a goal incorrectly chalked out for offside and then Kane grabbed a second and Tottenham’s third in the second half to finish off the German side as Spurs won 3-1.

USMNT youngster Christian Pulisic caused havoc on Dortmund’s left and might have had a goal before half time but it was ruled out for offside, somewhat controversially.

These two teams epitomize the value of bringing through young, hungry players in a high-pressing system and the result was a pulsating clash.

Here’s what we learned at a lively Wembley.


KANE’S POWER UNSTOPPABLE

Harry Kane was at his very best on Wednesday as he scored twice to fire Spurs to victory, their first this season at Wembley as they got their UCL campaign off to a flier.

Kane, 24, has only played in four UEFA Champions League games in his career but he has now scored four goals as the England international proved he belongs on Europe’s biggest stage.

He epitomized Spurs’ endeavor to put right last seasons Champions League exit at the group stage as he chased, bullied and battered Dortmund’s makeshift backline.

Kane smelt blood and his first goal summed up his display. He bundled over two Dortmund players when the odds were stacked against him, then raced through on goal and hammered home at the near post.

His penchant to score goals of any kind saw him then calmly drill home with his left foot in the second half to seal victory and Kane is well and truly up and running in September with six goals in four appearances for club and country. He could have had a hat trick as he dragged another effort but the local lad was given a standing ovation late on as he was substituted.

The reigning two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner looks hungrier than ever.


ABSORBING, ATTRACTIVE ENCOUNTER

The only other time Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund have played one another was back in 2016 as Spurs were demolished 5-1 on aggregate in the Europa League Round of 16.

Spurs were completely outclassed on that occasion but Wednesday’s win proved how far they have come.

Since then Spurs have largely kept all of their important players plus invested wisely in the likes of Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier and Heung-min Son, while Dortmund have lost stars such as Ousmane Dembele, Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan.

It showed, but Dortmund were well in this game up until the 60th minute when Kane made it 3-1.

As you can see from above, the first 45 minutes was largely dominated by Dortmund as they possessed the ball and forced Spurs to sit back. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men were patient and showed maturity to allow Dortmund to have the ball and were dangerous on the break. There really wasn’t much in this game.

Dortmund scored a perfectly legitimate equalizer through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just before Spurs made it 3-1 and had they made it 2-2, Spurs could hardly have complained.

This was an energetic, pulsating clash to watch as two of Europe’s most exciting teams collided.

With Real Madrid in Group H alongside them they will likely battle it out for second spot. With Dortmund having several defensive injuries for this game, the return leg in November at the Westfalenstadion will be a similarly lively, even and absorbing encounter.


PULISIC DOES EVERYTHING BUT SCORE

The kid just always has a way of making you shake your head in disbelief.

In the first half Christian Pulisic, just a week shy of his 19th birthday, tore Tottenham apart on multiple occasions as he found space between Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld.

Cutting in off the left the USMNT star produced a strong display, creating a chance for Aubameyang which was brilliantly cleared and then Pulisic couldn’t quite get on the end of a cross from Aubameyang to score himself.

He did score right on the break but it was disallowed for offside and he was a constant menace on the left flank. In the second half Aurier got more of a grip on him and Pulisic’s crosses were a little off but he was still dangerous.

With Ousmane Dembele sold to Barcelona, Pulisic now has a regular starting spot in Dortmund’s team and he is playing like a seasoned pro despite the fact this is only at the start of his second full season as a first-team player.

The Pulisic hype train left the station a long, long time ago but it continues to gather momentum, and passengers, each time he steps up to the big occasion. He did himself proud, once again, even though Dortmund lost.

Three key battles: Tottenham vs. Dortmund

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Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday in one of the most intriguing games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

 [ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup

Spurs and Dortmund are on an equal footing on many levels with both Mauricio Pochettino and Peter Bosz leading young, hungry squads to challenge for domestic titles and have hopes of making a deep UCL run with their finely-tuned, high-pressing styles the envy of others across Europe.

Two golden-boot winners will be on show at Wembley with Harry Kane leading Spurs’ charge from the front and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main man for Dortmund, but a whole host of other key battles will take place between the Premier League and Bundesliga teams.

Below is a closer look at the three key battles which will determine the outcome of this game.


Harry Kane vs. Neven Subotic

It is September so Kane is in full flow having scored twice against Everton last time out and that is a bad news for a Dortmund defense who are missing Marcel Schmelzer, Marc Bartra and potentially Neven Subotic. Kane and Co. will fancy their chances of pressing high on Dortmund’s defense early on and the likes of Sokratis and Omer Toprak may struggle to cope with the mobility of Spurs’ main forward. We all know that Kane is capable of scoring any type of goal and Dortmund’s defense will have to be wary of him dropping deep, drifting wide and then cutting inside.

Ben Davies vs. Christian Pulisic

Ah, Das American. Pulisic, still just 18 years old, is likely to have a key role in this game and he will likely start on the right of Dortmund’s attack. That means he will be up against second-choice left back (Danny Rose remains out with a knee injury) Ben Davies with Spurs expected to play in a 3-4-3 formation. Pulisic, as all USMNT fans know, loves to pick up the ball wide and drift inside and you just feel that with constant links to a move to the Premier League, this is a chance for him to prove his quality against PL opponents. Davies is solid and steady and will get forward but defends first. The Welsh international will provide a stern test for Pulisic but the American playmaker will see this as a battle he can easily win.

Toby Alderweireld vs. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

On his day there a few better center backs in Europe than Alderweireld. The same can be said about Aubameyang when it comes to strikers. This should be one heck of a battle with both imposing physically and Aubameyang able to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Alderweireld is more than comfortable following a forward out of the back line and if he wins the ball often enough the ball-playing Belgian can stride into midfield and start attacks. Aubameyang has a knack of being in the right place at the right time but Alderweireld reads the game superbly and along with Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, they will deny space for Aubameyang to turn and link up with Dortmund’s playmakers.

WATCH: Spurs’ Carter-Vickers scores in first match on loan

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American center back prospect and Tottenham Hotspur youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers is on loan at Sheffield United this season.

Buried behind Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Davinson Sanchez, the 19-year-old Carter-Vickers also watched as Spurs brought in 19-year-old Juan Foyth this summer.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. wrap ]

Sent to the Blades to get First Team playing time, the U.S. youth international got two cracks at a goal on Tuesday.

He had the first blocked with his left, but made no mistake with his right.

Everton 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur: Kane breaks out at Goodison

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Harry Kane bagged a brace and Christian Eriksen also scored as Tottenham Hotspur cruised past Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Spurs move fifth on seven points with the win, while Everton is 15th with four points as its murderer’s row of opponents stretches into September.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Dele Alli chested down a cross and laid off for Christian Eriksen, but the Dane’s rip bounded wide of the Everton goal.

Toby Alderweireld chopped down Sandro Ramirez to join Everton back Ashley Williams as defenders booked within the first 15 minutes.

And it’s no longer August, meaning Kane was free to find the back of the net. The traveling crowd saw Kane’s cross resemble a perfect swooping finish as Spurs went up 1-0 in the 29th minute.

Dele crossed beyond Ashley Williams, and Ben Davies‘ shot rebounded to Eriksen for a close range finish.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Everton backstop Jordan Pickford was livid with his defenders’ ignorance of Kane, who side-footed Davies’ left-sided cross home.