Houston will be the site of one of the biggest U.S. Men's National Team games to ever be played on U.S. soil when the MNT meets Argentina, the world's top-ranked team, in a Copa America Centenario Semifinal at NRG Stadium on Tuesday night (9 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, UDN).
"This is top notch. This is what you want to experience," USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said on Sunday. "It's fun to watch [Argentina]. It's impressive, but it's also a huge motivation to take them on."
In May, Klinsmann set a goal of reaching the Semifinals of Copa America Centenario, but knows his team shouldn't be content with just being there.
"This is a special moment. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Klinsmann has stressed to his players since beating Ecuador 2-1 in Seattle. "You got into the Semifinal, you made yourself proud, now go for more."
The players have received the message well and are excited by the opportunity presented in the match.
"To play at the biggest games when everything is one the line is what we all want,” MNT captain Michael Bradley said. "To play in the Semifinal of Copa America on our home soil against a big team like Argentina is an incredible opportunity."
It's an opportunity that doesn't come along often, the possibility of advancing to the final of a major international competition, but there is precedent for a game like that which the U.S. will play on Tuesday night.
At the 2009 Confederations Cup, the MNT faced then world number one Spain in the tournament Semifinals. The reigning European champions, and soon-to-be world champions, were humbled by a U.S. side that featured four players on the current roster. One of those was Bradley, who started in the 2-0 win against La Roja.
"We don't want to make [Argentina] out to be mission impossible,” Bradley said. “It's 90 minutes. It's a Semifinal. It's a chance to get into the Final. At the end of the day, whoever is sharper, whoever has more guys who can compete at a high level and understand the moment, that's typically which team has a better chance to win."
Klinsmann's tenure has been one of progress, but perhaps there is no better proof than winning such an intense knockout game on the international stage. Tuesday night is a chance for the progress that Klinsmann, his charges and U.S. fans across the globe desire.
"Brazil was huge for us,” Klinsmann stated. “We left there, yeah it was a success, but we wanted to go further. The learning curve for us is to make if further in those knockout games."