Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund had spent over two full months mired in a terrible, unforeseen, inexplicable slump. They had not won a single Bundesliga or Champions League game since September. Their 12th consecutive failure to pick up three points cost manager Peter Bosz his job.
But in two matches under new boss Peter Stoger, the turnaround has been immediate. And Pulisic, the 19-year-old American winger, helped lift Dortmund fully out of the slump with a wonderful late winner on Saturday against Hoffenheim:
Dortmund had gone behind in the first half despite being the better team. Like they so often have this season, the Black and Yellows conceded against the run of play, and carried a 1-0 deficit into the second half at home.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalized from the penalty spot on 63 minutes. Pulisic, who also started in a 2-0 victory over Mainz earlier in the week, then made an intelligent out-to-in run from the right wing in the 89th minute. He pounced on the deflection, and won a second-straight game for BVB with two deft touches.
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It was Pulisic’s first goal since that night in Trinidad. He hadn’t scored for Dortmund since a 3-0 Bundesliga win over Hamburg on Sept. 20. Not that he was responsible for his team’s shortcomings, but his goalscoring slump had coincided with Dortmund’s.
As Pulisic wrote in a Players’ Tribune letter last month, though: “Look at my last four [weeks]: failed to qualify for the World Cup … first defeat in the league … lost to Bayern at home … and now facing a very hard task to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League. For a guy obsessed with winning, lately I’ve been doing a lot of losing. But I just want you to know — I’m still obsessed, all the same.”
Obsessed enough to nab Dortmund three points on Saturday, and lift his side up into third place.
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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.