American soccer idol Christian Pulisic has vowed to put the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup behind him by helping his nation qualify for, and contend at, the 2022 finals in Qatar.
The USMNT were denied a ticket to the footballing spectacular in Russia due to a below par CONCACAF qualifying campaign and the Borussia Dortmund attacker told USA TODAY Sports he was still coming to terms with the hurt caused by missing out on a childhood dream this time around.
Watch: Pulisic on Borussia Dortmund's "up and down" season ...
“There was the initial shock of it all and you have to find a way to deal with it,” the Hershey native said of that crucial reverse against Trinidad and Tobago last October. "The toughest part was when it just hit me - I wasn't going to be part of the World Cup," he added.
What hurts even more for the 19-year-old is that he remembers watching the 2014 World Cup in his native Hershey, the thrill and excitement he felt supporting a USA side that defied the odds to advance to the Round of 16 at the expense of Portugal and Ghana. It is, sadly, something that will be denied a growing generation of soccer enthusiasts in the States this time around.
“It's a big miss for the youth in this country not to get that chance to watch an American team playing in the World Cup," Pulisic said. "The World Cup is the best tournament in the world, it’s unbelievable soccer. It has been my biggest dream, it is the thing you think about when you are a kid, but you don’t ever stop thinking about it."
Despite admitting that, "Missing out this time will always hurt and that won’t change," the teenage Bundesliga star says both he and his international teammates can make amends in future tournaments, or as he defined it, "put it right next time."
"It does give us a chance as a nation to look back and see what went wrong and look at how to avoid that happening again," Pulisic explained. "[Next time out,] I think we can (contend); there is no reason not to do that at the next World Cup." An even greater enticement to do well will come at the 2026 finals, which will be co-hosted between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
For now, Pulisic will settle in with friends and family back home to see how the 2018 World Cup pans out. “It is great to watch, but it’d be even better to be playing in it,” he lamented.