One added twist in the knockout phase is that no game can end in a tie. If the game is level after 90 minutes, there will be two 15-minute extra time periods. If no one is ahead at that point, it's on to the sometimes dreaded, always dramatic penalty kick shootout.
The U.S. is fortunate to have a man in camp with plenty of experience in these situations. Three-time World Cup veteran Kasey Keller is the goalkeeper coach for the stretch run and during his career he won three Gold Cup championships. In two, the team needed penalties to win. For Keller, the situation for the goalkeeper is as much art as science.
"As a keeper, you can’t really practice saving penalties," he said. "You try to get as much information as possible on your opponent and any tendencies. It’s hard to find data on some of these teams. When it comes down to it, it’s a feeling. There's a little bit of luck involved like any penalty shootout, and you hope to God your penalty takers score everyone one."
On the other side of the ball, his advice to shooters is simple.
"Don’t second guess yourself," Keller said. "Go up, be confident and hit it with some pace. Pace always has a good chance of beating anybody. Ultimately, what it comes down to is to make sure that your shooters are guys that are confident and enjoy that kind of pressure."