As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, 19-year-old John Pulksamp looks every bit the part of a Major League Soccer goalkeeper. The U.S. youth international has all of the physical tools to thrive at the sport's highest level, and after two seasons of competing in the USL Championship and training with Sporting's first team, the California native has built the foundations for what could be a long and fruitful professional career.
A native of Bakersfield, California, Pulskamp developed in the LA Galaxy Academy before signing professionally for Sporting Kansas City II ahead of the 2019 season. He was quick to make a strong impression in the USL Championship, leading Sporting KC II goalkeepers in starts (14), minutes (1,260), wins (four) and saves (45) as a rookie. Pulskamp featured twice for Sporting KC II in 2020 and spent most of the year backing up Tim Melia at the MLS level.
On the youth international stage, Pulskamp debuted for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team in a friendly against regional rivals Mexico on Jan. 18, 2020. He also competed at a U.S. U-18 training camp in June 2018 at Compass Minerals National Performance Center, Sporting’s world-class training home in Kansas City, Kansas. That same year, he went on trial with English Premier League outfit AFC Bournemouth.
Pulskamp logged two USL Championship appearances for Sporting KC II, racking up nine saves and securing a shutout victory over OKC Energy FC on Aug. 22 at Swope Soccer Village. The teenager spent most of the year training with the first team and backing up Melia under Manager Peter Vermes.
Pulskamp will almost certainly enjoy more playing time this season, either with the first team in MLS or with Sporting KC II in the USL Championship. His talents between the posts were on full display in 2019 and are likely to surface over the course of 2021, as well.
Pulskamp has amassed 54 saves in 16 USL Championship appearances over the last two seasons. His five wins for Sporting KC II since the start of 2019 are more than any other goalkeeper.
He Said It
“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to do this was for the physical benefits, not just the entertainment. To balance on that type of rope takes a ton of core stability, which is really important and something that I actually wanted to improve on. It really helps me in the sense of being able to control my body using my core and putting my weight exactly where I want it.”
Pulskamp in April 2020 on how his slacklining hobby helps him as a goalkeeper.
Did You Know?
During quarantine last spring, Pulskamp appeared on MLS Idle: Soccer’s Hidden Talents. During the program, he showcased his impressive slacklining skills by walking the tightrope from his own backyard.
On Social Media
Supporters can give Pulskamp a follow on Instagram at @john_pulskamp.