With the first task of advancing complete, the focus for the U.S. Men’s National Team shifts to the knockout phase where there is no longer any margin for error. With a group comprised of former Gold Cup champions, experienced veterans and aspiring young internationals, the U.S. has put together some solid results while displaying a growing confidence and determination.
They all knew coming in what opportunity lay ahead of them, and now three games away from a trophy, the players understand there must be a shift in mentality in order to wind up with a gold medal around their necks July 28 in Chicago. Here’s what they had to say about the group stage and the progress of the team heading into the elimination games:
U.S. team captain DAMARCUS BEASLEY
“’I was very proud of the team against Costa Rica and how we kept trying to play football and attack. We didn’t want to settle for a tie and that energy and commitment is the kind of thing that will push us through the knockout phase. We played against Costa Rica like it was a must-win game, and we want to keep that same mentality.”
“We are playing for a championship. This is something that we can achieve as a group, a chance for these 23 guys to do something special as a team together. The guys know that. We have some young guys, some inexperienced guys, and guys getting their first caps and first goals. For us, it’s a group that has a lot of potential. No one here is focused on trying to make a World Cup roster. All we are worried about is trying to win a Gold Cup final.”
U.S. goalkeeper NICK RIMANDO
“The focus definitely changes knowing that any little mistake in a game can cost you the tournament. You have to be extra prepared.”
“The confidence is huge right now within the group. To finish first in our group and with the results we put together, especially the great win against Costa Rica, the confidence is flying.”
U.S. midfielder ALEJANDRO BEDOYA
“In the group stage, you don’t always play teams that set a high benchmark for you. You try to focus on things you can work on and improve. Of course, finishing first in our group has given us a lot of confidence. We know with the elimination stage that you only get one shot, so the mindset is totally different know.
“The group stage has given us a chance to build on something together and get to know each other as a group. There are a lot of new faces and younger faces, and we were able to build on our style of play. In the group stage we were able to work on our own game, and now we will take that into the elimination stage.”
U.S. midfielder KYLE BECKERMAN
“A lot of what is head is similar to the group stage. We have wanted to keep a really high focus, and we are going to have to continue that in the quarterfinals. We are really trying to have a winning mentality, and we looked at the group phase as a kind of a practice for the knockout stage. We thought we did well to finish the group off, and hopefully we continue that momentum into the next phase.”
“Everybody in this team has gone through something like this before. We just need to keep an even keel really, and keep doing what we do best. “