It was a “magical night” in the words of ESPN. A “brilliant breakout performance” according to the Washington Post. And, according to LebTown, yet another reason to be proud of our quiet Central Pennsylvania community.
In a game Saturday against Burnley, Hershey-native and Chelsea FC player Christian Pulisic made history by becoming the second American ever to score a hat trick in the Premier League, arguably the world’s most competitive soccer league.
In doing so, 21-year-old Pulisic joined an exclusive club previously occupied only by Clint Dempsey, a Texas-native who scored a hat trick for Fulham in a January 2012 game against Newcastle. Pulisic is also the youngest Chelsea player to ever achieve a hat trick in a Premier League match. Chelsea won the game 4-2.
“I’m absolutely delighted for him,” said Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard in a press conference following the game. “There’s been a lot of talk around Christian because of the big price tag, the fact he’s a star in his country and captain of the USA national team.” Lampard noted that he understood the pressure Pulisic faced, having only had a one-week break after playing for the U.S.A. squad all summer.
“‘I’ve tried to deal with it in the way I see best, which is to give him minutes. He has played games this season already but I’ve also got competition in that area and I need them all trying to perform when they get in the team. Christian has been doing that recently from the bench, he fully deserved his start today and it was a fantastic match-winning performance.”
The hat trick goals also happened to be Pulisic’s first scores in the Premier League, an auspicious start to be sure.
According to an ESPN report, Pulisic was so excited following the game that he nearly forgot the match ball, pictured above thanks to a tweet Pulisic shared following the game.
So, we know Pulisic is an incredible soccer player, a true phenom. What else can we say? Does Central PA have a reasonable right to feel incredibly proud about this athletic feat? Oh heck yes.
He grew up in Hershey. He is a Sheetz guy. He would have gone to Penn State if he hadn’t gone pro first. And, perhaps most exciting of all, his family has chosen Lebanon County as the spot to buy land and plant themselves while Pulisic’s soccer career continues to take off.
Last December, a Pulisic-connected LLC finalized purchase of a million dollar property in Lebanon County. LebTown is continuing to withhold information regarding the property’s address out of respect for the family’s privacy but we can say that the digs are impressive, and pastoral.
The Pulisic family’s ties to Lebanon County actually go even further back, as Christian’s father Mark Pulisic was head soccer coach at Lebanon Valley College from 1993-2005, and also a professional player himself for the Harrisburg Heat from 1991-1999. Mark Pulisic remains active in the coaching field through his podcast, Soccer Unplugged, which he hosts with Dan Visser, a Messiah College men’s soccer alum.
In addition to his family roots—and, really, because of them—Pulisic has an additional incentive to come back to Central PA. The soccer superstar inked a marketing partnership with The Hershey Company last May that celebrates his hometown connection. “Growing up in Hershey, the company, its brands and the people have been something I’ve always admired,” said Pulisic in a statement at the time the partnership was announced.
Pulisic has appeared in Hershey Company marketing materials since then, including a video posted earlier this year that shows Pulisic traveling around his childhood community in the area of Bullfrog Valley Road.
In mid-November, Pulisic will return to the States for a Concacaf Nations League match against Canada, to be held in Orlando’s Exploria Stadium. The match will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 on ESPN2.