A brief 20-second interchange between Christian Pulisic and a cross did about as much to advance the American soccer player’s reputation in Europe as any full-fledged European career before it.
It was a small moment, but it was almost impossibly significant. Pulisic cut across the Real Madrid back line like a knife working against the grain, cratering Danilo and then depositing a cross into the box that Andre Schurrle finished. It was the Champions League, at home, against the world’s most decorated club, and an 18-year-old American made it look like a Tuesday evening on a back lot in Hershey. In our age of digital proliferation, you can’t put price tags on this sort of notoriety.
Small moments like these change perceptions, maybe a few at a time and then more as each successive paradigm is shattered under the gear teeth of another cross, another embarrassed defender, another goal.