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Parents of Hershey teen on U.S. soccer team brimming with pride in their son

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HERSHEY, Pa. - Imagine leaving everything you've ever known behind to chase your dream.

That's what 17-year-old Christian Pulisic of Hershey did two years ago. Christian and his dad, Mark, picked up and moved to Dortmund, Germany, where now he's playing professionally for Borussia Dortmund, one of the top teams in Europe.

"It wasn't easy, you know, it was a challenge for him to accept such a difficult challenge of going into a very strong program and succeeding," Mark Pulisic, who played professionally for the Harrisburg Heat indoor soccer team in the 1990s, said. "Through all the ups and downs and peaks and valleys, he's hung in there."

Christian and Mark gradually made the transition to life overseas, and Mark now works as a coach for one of Borussia Dortmund's youth teams. Meanwhile, his mom, Kelley, and the rest of the family stayed in Hershey, and although it's been challenging with parts of the family on opposite sides of the Atlantic, they stayed connected daily as father and son immersed themselves in German life.


"It's just a whole different culture," Kelley Pulisic said. "It's their world, it's their life. Here in the U.S., we have so many other sports that you're distracted with. In Germany, it's soccer, it's only soccer."

Even as Christian has made a meteoric rise into soccer stardom this year, including earning a spot on the U.S. men's national team, his parents say they marvel at how he has matured off the pitch as well as on it.

"The respect that he has and how humble he is, the pride is not him as a player; the pride is him as a young boy and how he treats others," Mark Pulisic said.

His family will be in the stands in Philadelphia on Saturday when Team USA takes on Paraguay for a spot in the quarterfinals of the Copa America. They say they are nervous, but excited for what lays ahead.


"When I see him subbing in, and I just see the back of the jersey and I see Pulisic, you know, I almost get tears in my eyes every time that he's running on to the field with men, when he really is still just a boy," Kelley Pulisic said.