Christian Pulisic is going places. He has just turned 18, he is getting Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League timewith Borussia Dortmund, and looks set to be a regular part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA Men’s National Team for the remainder of the 2018 World Cup cycle.
He’s in eye-catching form (he’s scoring and assisting with abandon at the moment) and he is already coveted by other clubs - including, reportedly, Liverpool and RB Leipzig.
But he’s still on an upward trajectory at BVB and is said to be under contract until 2019. Still, hope springs eternal. One potential suitor hopeful the young American might one day tire of Dortmund: MLS.
The league has announced today that it has added Pulisic to its Allocation Ranking List. This is comically aspirational at first glance, and at the second and third glances too. Barring a catastrophic downturn in his career, Pulisic’s ambitions surely do not include any near-future return home. If he wanted to play in MLS, he could have stayed in America instead of moving to Germany to sign with Dortmund when he was 16.
And putting Pulisic on the Allocation Ranking List sends the message that he won’t simply be able to pick whichever club he might want to join in MLS: his signing would be subject to the Allocation Order. If he wanted to join the team in the league that is most closely aligned with the playing principles he has learned at Dortmund, for example - well, the New York Red Bulls are currently 16th in the MLS Allocation Order. It would take some substantial trading for RBNY to land Pulisic. (The Allocation Order resets every year, but the Red Bulls aren’t likely to be any higher than 10th at the start of next season.)
Choosing your club is a privilege the best soccer players enjoy, and if Pulisic were interested in MLS, one would guess it wouldn't be on "I'll go wherever you send me" terms.
Of course, there is no evidence to suggest Pulisic is any hurry to do anything but be successful with Dortmund and USMNT. But by effectively announcing its interest in a player no one seriously thinks is all that interested in return, MLS has almost guaranteed itself some play in what will probably be a lively transfer rumor scene around Pulisic as his career unfolds.
Smart move, MLS. There is no crime in free publicity. See you on the rumor mill the next time Pulisic is struggling to get minutes with BVB.