Christian Pulisic is America's first real football star - and his earnings could rival...

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At 22, Christian Pulisic is laying careful foundations for grand ambitions. While he was jinking past Thibaut Courtois last week to become the first American goalscorer in a Champions League semi-final, mechanical diggers were carving their way through the fields of his boyhood club, Pennsylvania Classics. Groundwork is nearly finished there for a complex of mini-pitches he paid for to help talented youngsters eventually join him on the elite stage. However, while the site — named the 'Pulisic Stomping Ground' — fits neatly with his 'Captain America' nickname in the changing rooms, he is keeping Eden Hazard of old, saying instead that it was an "honour" to be mentioned in the same breath, any personal hype in check. There was almost a grimace last week when he was compared with the Belgian yet with all eyes on him in America for tonight's second leg, there will be no such moderation from the marketeers. "He already is the highest earning American footballer in history but the potential in him is huge," says New York-based Dominic Curran, a global sports marketing expert at Gravity Road. Pulisic's cause has been helped at home by the NFL-dominated sports agenda making room for Premier League coverage every Saturday morning between 7am and noon in some time zones. CBS has also been showing the Champions League more extensively than ever in midweek. His goal against Real Madrid saw him trend higher on Twitter than any American footballer had done before. "Genuinely joyous moment for American men’s game," wrote the broadcaster Roger Bennett. "We are becoming a normalized (sic) football nation." But how "huge" is huge for the nation's finest ever footballer in sport's biggest domestic market?

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