Osorio hypes up Pulisic ahead of USA vs. Mexico World Cup qualifying showdown

Though he is just 18, Dortmund winger Christian Pulisic enters Friday's USA-Mexico match as a star to watch and a player El Tri are very worried about.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio has a long history with several U.S. national team players. From Tim Howard, who he coached 16 years ago, to Jozy Altidore, who he coached eight years ago. But it is one American player in particular who Osorio's Mexico will have a keen eye on when Friday's World Cup qualifier kicks off.

That player is 18-year-old American sensation Christian Pulisic.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, Osorio acknowledged on Wednesday that Mexico's defense will be focused on containing the Borussia Dortmund winger, who may be young but in recent months has shown that he is also fearless and in top form.

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"I see a very good technical player, quick, likes to take people on, has the ability to do it, can score goals, which is great attribute in any forward," Osorio told Goal USA. "It seems like he really enjoys taking people on and being that kind of player."

Though Pulisic is just 18, his recent form at Borussia Dortmund coupled with his outstanding showing in September's World Cup qualifying wins against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago have him all but assured of starting on Friday. Mexico's technical staff has been tracking the young winger and expect him to be a key figure in the American attack, a player El Tri must contain.

"The question that we ask ourselves is will he play out wide or is he going to play as a second striker, because that will bring different questions to the game, to our game," Osorio said. "Regardless of what position he will play, he will indeed be probably the one player that we cannot afford to let loose because then he can create a lot of problems."

Pulisic has been deployed mainly as a left winger by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, but at Dortmund he has been used on both wings, and has even more recently shown a penchant for floating centrally. An attacking midfielder during his rise up the youth ranks, Pulisic has used his quickness and one-on-one ability to thrive in wing roles, but Mexico knows he could wind up in any number of attacking positions on Friday.

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Friday will mark Pulisic's first taste of the USA-Mexico rivalry. Not only has he never taken part in the rivalry on the senior level, he said on Wednesday that he has never even faced El Tri on youth level. Despite the lack of familiarity, Pulisic knows all too well what the match means.

"I think the game doesn’t really get any bigger than this one. U.S.-Mexico, Columbus, World Cup qualifying," Pulisic said on Wednesday. "I understand that. I’m here, I can feel the energy in the city just training here, you see banners everywhere and so much excitement. I’m really pumped for the game."

PODCAST | Previewing the USA's clash with Mexico in Columbus