Book Review: Pulisic – My Journey So Far (Christian Pulisic)

Book Review: Pulisic – My Journey So Far (Christian Pulisic)

Mark Pulisic And the Harrisburg Heat

My Mark Pulisic jersey hanging in my office (pictured with the Pulisic Pilsner by Jackass Brewery)

(Before we can get into Christian Pulisic, we first need to start with his dad – Mark Pulisic, and the Harrisburg Heat.)

Growing up as a huge soccer fan in Central PA (in Hummelstown, PA) and being an avid player myself, and loving the indoor game especially, meant I grew up being a huge fan of the Harrisburg Heat.

My parents were both ushers at all of the home games – my dad’s section was 12 and my mom’s was 13 (the handicap ramp). Which meant I was there at every home game, and also meant, I got to meet a lot of the players when they were injured.

I also went to the Harrisburg Heat soccer camps every summer, so I got to meet many more players that way as well. My first year, when I was six years old, I got to meet Mark Pulisic, Bob Lilley, and Jim Pollihan. And I like to say that I’ve made life long friends with all three. All three are wonderful men. (We sadly lost Jim Pollihan just a bit ago.)

I can’t count the number of players we invited to our house over the years for supper, lunch, and just to hang out. Players like Mark, Bob, Scott Henderson, Todd Hoffard, John Kluba, Brian Chandler, David Bascome, Kumba, Mik, Chris Marinos, Mike Williams, and so many more that I can’t even remember.

My mother – a teacher in the Lower Dauphin School System – helped Mark Pulisic’s wife (and mother of Christian Pulisic) Kelley – get the paperwork and necessary filings done to be able to get her first teaching job. I can still remember being hoisted up on Mark’s shoulders at a summer camp because of hitting a bicycle kick in our “World Cup” game.

Over the years I got to meet Christian a few times as a kid, as well as Chase, and DeeDee (his half – brother and sister). I only got to meet Christian once after he started playing internationally.

Harrisburg Heat

A quick recap of the Harrisburg Heat for those who don’t know, straight from Wikipedia:

The Harrisburg Heat were an American professional indoor soccer team based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The team was part of the National Professional Soccer League, which later became the Major Indoor Soccer League, and has been defunct since 2003.

Harrisburg Heat (1991 – 2003) – Wikipedia Page

The Harrisburg Heat would later be re-established in 2012 and are currently still in operation as of 2023. (Harrisburg Heat 2012 – Wikipedia Page.)

The Harrisburg Heat were first formed during the 199192 season by Dr. Rex Herbert, following the folding of the Hershey Impact, another NPSL team for which Herbert was the team physician. Along with other investors, Herbert produced the fiscal and economic backdrop to support the team.

The Heat went through several seasons when they were among the most financially sound teams in the league. However, their only trip to the league finals was during the 199495 season, when the Heat took on the St. Louis Ambush, also now defunct. The Heat were swept in four games, losing 19–9, 18–8, 12–7 and 14–11.

The last few years of the team’s existence saw declining attendance numbers, partly due to the State Farm Show Complex’s construction project that restricted parking and also charged a fee for parking. Also, a portion of the team’s ownership passed from Herbert to Rodney Rumberger, a Harrisburg-area businessman. Many of the team’s popular players also had retired or signed with other teams. The team ceased operations following the 200203 season. Despite several attempts to put together a new ownership group, the Heat did not return the next season.[1]

On May 2, 2012, it was announced that an expansion team named after the Harrisburg Heat will join the Professional Arena Soccer League in the fall, owned by the league.[2][3] Longtime Heat broadcaster John Wilsbach took over as owner of the team from 2013 to 2016 and then sold it to Carl Delmont. The team is currently a member of the Major Arena Soccer League, a rebranding of the PASL.

The original Heat’s home arena was in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center.

Harrisburg Heat (1991 – 2003) – Wikipedia Page

Mark Pulisic

(We have this card signed in my dad’s “sports display case” at his house.) (This card is also featured in the book.)

Quick recap of Mark Pulisic from Wikipedia:

Mark Pulisic (born September 20, 1968) is an American soccer former footballer and coach who is currently the assistant manager of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the USL Championship.

In 1991, Pulisic turned professional with the Harrisburg Heat of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). He remained with the Heat throughout his career, retiring from playing professionally in 1999. When he retired, the Heat honored him with a Mark Pulisic Night at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was then inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame, joining Bob Lilley, Richard Chinapoo, and Todd Smith.

In 1993, Lebanon Valley College hired Pulisic to begin a new chapter of the men’s soccer program, where he coached until 2005. In 1996, Pulisic began coaching a new women’s team program at the school as well. While with Lebanon Valley College, Pulisic also served as an assistant coach for the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL in 2003 and 2004.

On April 19, 2006, the expansion Detroit Ignition of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) hired Pulisic as the team’s first coach. In April 2007, he was named the MISL Coach of the Year. On November 6, 2007, former Heat teammate Bob Lilley replaced Pulisic as head coach of the Ignition, moving Pulisic to the front office as director of soccer operations.

Pulisic relocated to Germany in 2015 after his son Christian was signed by Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, and was hired as a coach for Dortmund’s U10 academy team.[3] In early 2017, Pulisic returned to the United States, joining second division club Rochester Rhinos as an assistant coach under his former teammate and colleague Bob Lilley.

Mark Pulisic – Wikipedia (bio, Harrisburg Heat, and Coaching subheadings)

With how integral Mark is to his son’s (Christian’s) life, I feel its necessary to mention and discuss him here. (Plus I enjoy giving a good bit of backstory on the Pulisics and my childhood).

I think it wouldn’t do justice to Christian or his book to not discuss Mark, as it provides the background and context for his life and his book.

Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Again, before jumping into the book, let’s discuss the person first. As most people who are likely reading this review know, Christian Pulisic is a major star soccer / futbol player for the US Men’s National Team, as well as currently for Chelsea.

Wikipedia does a good quick summary:

Christian Mate Pulisic (/ˈmɑːteɪ pəˈlɪsɪk, ˈpʊlɪʃɪtʃ/;[7] Croatian: Pulišić,[8] pronounced [krǐstijan mǎːte pǔliʃitɕ];[9][10][11] born September 18, 1998) is an American professional soccer player who plays as a winger or attacking midfielder for Premier League club Chelsea and the United States national team.[12] Nicknamed “Captain America” by fans and other players, Pulisic is renowned for his world-class dribbling abilities and explosive speed.[13][14]

Pulisic began his professional career at German club Borussia Dortmund, where he progressed quickly through the team’s youth academy, featuring in only 15 youth games. He was then promoted to the senior team in 2016, at age 17.[15] He featured sparingly in his first season at the club, though became the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga at the age of 17.[16] His involvement increased dramatically in the following season, where he was a mainstay in the Dortmund team that won the 2016–17 DFB-Pokal.[17] In 2018, he finished second in the inaugural Kopa Trophy, given to the best player under age 21.

In January 2019, Pulisic moved to Chelsea in a transfer worth $73 million (£57.6 million), making him the most expensive North American player of all time, and began playing for the club in the 2019–20 season.[18] At 21, he became the youngest Chelsea player to score a hat-trick[19] and the 31st player to record a perfect hat-trick in Premier League history.[20] With Chelsea he won the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, 2021 UEFA Super Cup and 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, becoming the youngest Chelsea player and first American to score in the Champions League semi-finals and the first American to play in the Champions League final.[21][22]

Pulisic played for the United States at under-15 and under-17 levels, before making his senior national team debut in March 2016 at age 17. He is the youngest player ever to captain the United States national team in the modern era.[23] He helped the U.S. to the final of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and won the inaugural 2019–20 CONCACAF Nations League. Individually, he has won a U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year award and three U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year awards. He has been called the “face” of American soccer.[24]

Pulisic was born in Hershey, Pennsylvania,[25] where he spent the majority of his childhood. His parents, Kelley and Mark Pulisic, both played collegiate soccer at George Mason University and his father also played professional indoor soccer for the Harrisburg Heat in the 1990s and later became a coach at both youth and professional levels.[26] Growing up, his soccer idol was Luís Figo.[27]

While his mother was on a teacher exchange in England through the Fulbright Program, Pulisic lived for a year in Tackley, Oxfordshire.[4] At age seven, he began playing for the youth team of Brackley Town.[4] When his father was general manager of indoor club Detroit Ignition in the mid-2000s, Pulisic lived in Michigan and played for Michigan Rush. While in Michigan, he attended Workman Elementary School.[28]

Christian Pulisic – Wikipedia Page (Main Bio and Early Life subheadings)

Now that we all have a better understanding of Christian, and the Pulisic family, lets tackle the book.

Book Review: Pulisic – My Journey So Far

Pulisic: My Journey So Far by Christian Pulisic

As per GoodReads – the back blurb:

America’s first true European soccer champion and the captain of the U.S. men’s national team relates his journey from Hershey, Pennsylvania, to the pinnacle of world soccer.

Pulisic’s rise from his childhood in Pennsylvania to captain of the U.S. national team in the coming World Cup and Champions League glory is ultimately a story about a lifelong determination to realize a dream. Growing up in an area without role models, Pulisic would look to European stars for inspiration and to European soccer as his ultimate goal.

In this book Pulisic talks candidly about his journey so far, revealing the extraordinary excitement of fulfilling some of his goals and the great challenges involved. He also shares experiences from behind the scenes playing for club and country, his most memorable career moments, moving to a new country without knowing the language, training drills he’s used over the years to hone his skills, and his daily life as a soccer player.

Photographs from his family albums and some of the world’s best sports photographers document Pulisic’s path from his first visit to Chelsea at age seven to signing for the club for a record transfer fee when he turned twenty to his defense of the Champions League title and preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Featuring dressing-room anecdotes and heartwarming stories, this fascinating look into the world of a quiet American boy turned soccer star is the real-life story of every aspiring young American soccer player’s dream and the perfect book for anyone with a passion for the beautiful game.

Pulisic: My Journey So Far (GoodReads)

(Details – 240 pages, hardcover, published October 11 2022.)

This was a fun, relatively quick read, despite its large formatted size. Its done via interviews with Christian throughout a few years, mainly over COVID. The book details his life growing up from Hershey, as well as his travels, trials, and tribulations from the various club teams.

The book comes packed with photographs, many taken by Kelley (Christian’s mom) herself. These help immerse the reader into his life, into his interviews, and gives you a perspective of Christian almost from birth.

As a local, and a big fan of the Harrisburg Heat growing up, it was neat to see some of the pictures that looked all too familiar. (Like the picture of his dad holding him in DeeDee in his Harrisburg Heat uniform after his final game; the jersey of which is hanging in my office.) Or pictures of him playing soccer at Keller Fields (a local park where I also played many of my earliest games at). As well as pictures of Lebanon Valley College where Mark and Kelley both coached, and where Mark had his own soccer camps at – which my sister and I attended. (Fun fact – my parents both graduated from Lebanon Valley College.)

The book also does a good job discussing the minutia of his life. Not just his on field achievements and losses, not just his soccer actions, but also things about his mental health, what he does in his free time (like playing chess, etc), his discussions about his father, his mother, his family, and mental preparations for the games. It was interesting to see him discuss the little things of life as a high level player / celebrity and what all that entails. Like locker room music, pre game work outs, post game cool downs, what he does the nights before a game, the day of games, etc.

It details his personal life, which can be summed up pretty well by Wiki:

Both the anglicized pronunciation (IPA: /pəˈlɪsɪk/) and the original Croatian pronunciation (IPA: /ˈpʊlɪʃɪtʃ/) have been used by commentators, and Pulisic confirmed that either form is acceptable.[112]

Pulisic’s paternal grandfather, Mate Pulišić, was born in Croatia on the island of Olib.[113] Pulisic obtained Croatian citizenship after moving to Germany in order to avoid applying for a German work visa, which is required to work in the country without a European Union passport.[92] Pulisic has a cousin, Will Pulisic, who plays for USL League One club North Carolina FC on loan from Austin FC.[114]

Pulisic is Catholic.[115][116] He often posts Bible verses on his social media accounts.[117][118]

Outside of soccer, Pulisic is a fan of the New York Jets, New York Rangers, and Philadelphia 76ers.[119] He enjoys playing chess.[120] Pulisic is a fan of the Ford Mustang and imported a left-hand drive Shelby GT500 to England from the United States in 2021.[121][122]

Due to his status of frequently captaining the United States and his high level of play, he has been given the nickname “Captain America” by fans and other players.[123] He has also been nicknamed “The LeBron James of Soccer” due to a clip from the television show Pawn Stars, which has since become a meme.[124]

On October 11, 2022, he released an autobiography titled Pulisic: My Journey So Far. The book chronicles his journey into the soccer world.[125] In the book, he also revealed that he suffered with depression while he was injured in 2020 and during times that he did not get much playing time.[30]

Christian Pulisic – Personal Life (Wikipedia)

He also does a wonderful job of breaking down the games he played. The big moments, what he was thinking, feeling, anticipating, trying to do during key plays and key moments of the big games that he either won or lost in.

The book does a tremendous job of covering his life to this point, which with how young he is, the interview style for this book works very well. Once he’s older, and retired, and either coaching, or done playing, it would be interesting to get a true autobiography at that point. But for his age now, and with the amount of time he still has left to play, this interview style for the book works well.

I would highly recommend this to any fan of Christian Pulisic, of American soccer, of Chelsea, or even a futbol / soccer fan in general. Or if you are a native of Hershey or Central PA, its fun to look into the life of a local celebrity as well.

My GoodReads Rating: ****
My LibraryThing Rating: ****.5
Global GoodReads Average Rating: 4.30 (as of 3.1.23)

Pulisic Pilsner

Pulisic Pilsner by Jackass Brewery

To tie this all back in with being a beer blog (that dabbles in book and hike reviews), let me bring up my beer review of Pulisic Pilsner by Jackass Brewery.

Jackass Brewery is a brewery located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and in honor of Christian Pulisic and the World Cup they produced “Pulisic Pilsner”. It was a very tasty pilsner that hit the spot while watching them play in the World Cup. Make sure to check out my review below to find out more about it:

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Thank You For Reading

Thanks for checking this out everyone. I got a ton of book reviews to get through, trying to get them posted as soon as I read them, but with all of the other articles, they get kinda pushed down the ‘to write’ pile.

I do hope you enjoy the book reviews though.

Cheers All!

-B. Kline

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