Christian Pulisic’s Players Tribune piece was humble and reflective (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
I usually don’t start off a column imploring readers to read another piece, but on this occasion, I will make an exception.
If haven’t read Christian Pulisic’s piece on the Players Tribune, entitled 1,834 days, you should do so immediately.
It says a lot about himself, where he is right now, where he has been and where he is going.
In his first true public comments in wake of the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifying failure for Russia 2018, Pulisic sounded well beyond his 19 years.
It was a reflective and humble piece, perhaps even making the reader feel humble as well that a teenager would have such mature thoughts and feelings.
Without going into too much detail (it would be unfair for any spoilers), the Borussia Dortmund midfielder expressed his feelings and disappointment about not soccer’s promised land, that he is not a prodigy or wonderboy and that he has had to work hard to get where he is.
No doubt Pulsic has talent. But with those special abilities comes hard work and sacrifices he continues to make playing for one of the best clubs in the world in such a competitive soccer environment that is not foreign to U.S. soccer.
I have a pretty good gut feeling that some of that work ethic was instilled by his parents, Mark and Kelley, who have raised an impressive young man.
I have had the privilege of talking to Mark Pulisic through the years. I first met him after he scored the winning goal for the Oceanside Navahos as an 18-year-old, not far from his son’s age today, at the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s Boys Under-19 final in 1987 (https://www.frontrowsoccer.com/2017/08/28/runs-family-part-christian-pulisics-father-mark-play-game-well/).
I got to know Mark a little better several years later when he was with the Harrisburg Heat of the Major Indoor Soccer League as I met his fiancé, Kelley, who is now his wife. While the editor and publisher of Soccer Week, I went on a trip with the Heat in 1992 — to Canton, Ohio, Detroit and Dayton, Ohio — as the team became the first MISL side to win three road matches in as many nights. In 1993, I covered a weekend in the life of the team in Harrisburg for another perspective.
In May, I had an hour sit down with Mark, the Rochester Rhinos assistant coach, in Rochester, N.Y. to talk about himself and Christian. During that conversation, Mark could not believe the over-the-top hype that was being made for a teenager, that Christian wasn’t the savior of U.S. Soccer and that his son still had a lot of growing up to do.
No doubt that Mark made sense and was grounded. And, as they say, the apple did not fall that far from the tree.
As for Christian’s piece, I haven’t forgotten. Here’s the link:
It just might be the best read you have today, if not this week or month.