Christian Pulisic has said it is a "dream" to be at a World Cup -- one that was cruelly delayed five years ago on a waterlogged field in Trinidad as the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of qualifying cut deep for Pulisic, and the photo of him hunched down, his fingers dug into his eyes after the final whistle remains indelible. Now as the U.S. prepare for their opening game against Wales on Monday, Pulisic is ready to get started.

"It's unreal for me to be here at a World Cup," he said after Wednesday's training session. "Just the whole feeling to be with these guys to play on the biggest stage. You know, it's been a dream of mine my whole life, so I'm just very excited to be here."

Pulisic is no stranger to big moments. This is a man with a UEFA Champions League winner's medal on his résumé after all. But he also understands that the World Cup is something special and that the opportunity is there to make an indelible impression.

"I feel like I've played in some big games. I've accomplished a lot. I've done a lot of things," Pulisic said. "But what I want to do with the World Cup is something on top of all of that. It's something when I was a kid in Pennsylvania growing up, 5 to 10 years old, that's all I thought about was the World Cup."

With respect to the pressure to perform, Pulisic said he "didn't see it as a burden at all." But he's also not entirely immune either, especially now that he's about to play on one of the sport's biggest stages.