Growing up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Christian Pulisic always had options for his free time. Outside of soccer, he had a city of tourist attractions to explore.

"In the summers, I had season passes and I was there every day," he says of Hersheypark.

Somehow, Pulisic avoided the temptation in the U.S. capital of sweets and became an elite athlete. The soccer prodigy jumped to Borussia Dortmund in 2015 at just age 16. In 2017, Pulisic was named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year. Now 19, he is clearly his nation's best player.

But disaster struck for Pulisic last October when the U.S. National Team fell to Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, knocking the Yanks out of World Cup qualification. Pulisic had the team's lone goal in that game and his five goals were more than any other player in CONCACAF fifth-round qualifying, but that was not enough to earn a trip to Russia.

So this summer, Pulisic has more free time than he expected.

"It allows me to get some more rest, recover, my body is very important," Pulisic says. "Then I'll start training at home and get ready for my season coming up."

At least before summer, Pulisic still has duties for the national team. The U.S. has friendlies vs. Bolivia (in Chester, Pennsylvania, not too far from Pulisic's hometown), Ireland and France, the last of which is preparing for the World Cup. Four years ago, the U.S. took on opponents as tune-ups for the competition in Brazil. For Russia, the U.S. is on the other side of the arrangement.

But Pulisic asks fans to bear with him. He's young and he's the foundation of a youthful core.

"Right now, we're developing a nice, young team and things are looking up for sure, so we're gonna give everything we have and get a good team ready for the next World Cup qualifying cycle," Pulisic says.

"I think there's a lot to look forward to and we have a really good team coming through the ranks."

A lot will happen before 2022. There will turnover on the roster. Pulisic will retire his teenage years. And in all likelihood, he will move from Dortmund.

If he manages to squeeze in a visit to Hersheypark this summer, Storm Runner is his favorite ride.

"It's the one that shoots off right at the beginning," he says.

Much like his soccer career.

Pulisic spoke to ThePostGame at Hershey's Chocolate World in New York City on May 25. Pulisic signed autographs and took photos with children, while also announcing a partnership with the Hershey's Company (naturally). As one of his first promotions, Pulisic received cleats designed with the appearance of Hershey's new Reese's "Outrageous" bar.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.