Judgement day has arrived for the U.S. national team at the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
The host nation face Paraguay in their Group A finale in Philadelphia on Saturday knowing a win will see them qualify for the quarterfinal stage.
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Even if Jurgen Klinsmann’s side draw they’ll likely go through as Costa Rica will have to overturn a six-goal deficit and beat Colombia, but the USMNT head coach isn’t focused on any other scenario other than winning.
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, here’s what Klinsmann had to say via MLSSoccer.com:
“This is already a knockout game on Saturday. This is it,” Klinsmann said. “You need now to get at least one point. We are not playing for one point. We cannot do that. It is not our character to go for one point. We go for the win. Otherwise, we might punish ourselves.
“This is our goal, to go through that on Saturday and then play the next one-off and learn how to play these one-off games to mature in our own way towards a World Cup where we want to go further.”
Klinsmann also called Paraguay “unpredictable” and hailed their recent success in Copa America play but believes the U.S. is “definitely capable” of getting the win they need.
Although, a win for Paraguay would mean they would likely advance to the knockout stage at the USMNT’s expense after they drew with Costa Rica in their opener and lost narrowly to Colombia on Wednesday despite being down to 10-men. This should be a tight, tense encounter and is basically a knockout game.
The U.S. is treating it like one.
After losing to Colombia in their Copa America opener many had the U.S. down for a dismal group stage exit but the 4-0 demolition of Costa Rica in Chicago on Wednesday has set the Stars and Stripes up for this winner-takes-all encounter in Philly.