Running throughout the season on Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Sporting Kansas City Show is available on several podcast hubs including Spotify and iTunes as well as SportingKC.com. With Nate Bukaty and Aly Trost hosting the weekly program, Sporting fans have a place to go to catch up on club storylines, guest interviews and more.
The star of this week’s Sporting Kansas City Show was a blossoming goalkeeper who has spent just a few days in his 20s.
John Pulskamp, who on Monday celebrated his 20th birthday, ended his teenage years with a bang by helping Sporting Kansas City to a 2-1 comeback win over the New York Red Bulls last Saturday in an exciting MLS season opener at Red Bull Arena.
By doing so, Pulskamp became the third-youngest MLS goalkeeper to win a regular season match and the very youngest to claim victory on the road. His impressive MLS debut represented the latest step forward for a 6-foot-4, 215-pound tank of a goalkeeper who could easily pass for 30 years old.
And although Pulskamp is still a decade away from turning 30, his poise and moxie between the posts are well beyond his years. Perhaps it’s because the California native never felt the jitters most teenage players feel when they make take the field for their first MLS matches.
“Deep down, you just want to walk away from your debut with three points,” Pulskamp said. “I was definitely buzzing and stoked for the moment, but I wasn’t nervous in (terms) of having any doubt or asking myself any negative questions. It was a very positive feeling and the few butterflies I had were more excitement. I literally talk to myself and just remember that I’ve prepared for this opportunity.
“This is something that I’d literally stay up at night dreaming about and thinking about. The fact that it happened—I just told myself, I’m not going to let nerves ruin the moment or get in the way of this.”
For Pulskamp, whose strength and athleticism are already noticeable qualities, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His grandfather, also named John Pulskamp, represented the United States as a weightlifter at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. He also has eight relatives who have played collegiate sports.
Even with that favorable background, Pulskamp attributes most of his success to the mindset he developed as a young teenager growing up in Bakersfield, California.
“I’ve always been fairly independent and very driven and motivated,” Pulskamp said. “At 14 or 15, I was thinking five years ahead and thinking, I want to be a pro soccer player. I want to do this and I’ll do anything to make it happen. In my eyes, that was a no-brainer. My parents would tell me to tap the brakes a little bit, but in the end it worked out.”
YOUNGEST GOALKEEPERS TO WIN AN MLS MATCH
|Bill Hamid||DC||19 years, 161 days||05/05/2010||vs. Sporting KC||W 2-1|
|Tim Howard||RBNY||19 years, 165 days||08/18/1998||vs. Colorado||W 4-1|
|John Pulskamp||SKC||19 years, 363 days||04/17/2021||at New York||W 2-1|
|Zac MacMath||PHI||20 years, 41 days||09/17/2011||vs. Columbus||W 1-0|
|Jesse Gonzalez||DAL||20 years, 96 days||08/29/2015||vs. Real Salt Lake||W 2-0|
Pulskamp developed in the LA Galaxy Academy before signing his first professional contract at the USL Championship level with Sporting Kansas City II in 2019. To a certain degree, the move was a leap of faith. Pulskamp, after all, had never spent any time in the Midwest before. Fast-forward two years, however, and he couldn’t be more delighted with the way things have turned out thus far.
“As soon as I came out here, I met some good people, made some good friends and just fell in love with the club,” he said. “That made it a lot easier living here. If all of the other aspects of my life were going really good, then I think I could play just about anywhere and be really happy. Kansas City has been good to me and grown on me quite a bit. I love it here.”
Pulskamp and Sporting will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Friday for the club’s highly anticipated home opener against Orlando City SC at 6:30 p.m. CT. The sold-out showdown will be televised nationally on FS1, FOX Deports and the FOX Sports app, while Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM will provide local radio broadcasts.