Saint Paul, Minnesota.- The United States Men’s National Team will begin its Concacaf Gold Cup title defense on Tuesday night, as they take on tournament newcomers Guyana at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
“We’re looking forward to getting out and playing,” U.S. Manager Gregg Berhalter said during Monday’s pre-match press conference. “We’ve seen the focus kind of shift for the group this week. The intensity picked up, and these guys just want to play. They’re ready to get after it.”
When asked about the pressure currently on the U.S. team, from a multitude of angles after recent struggles, Berhalter was poignant in his response.
“I don’t think we’re considered the favorites in this tournament,” said Berhalter. “And that’s life. You have to deal with circumstances.”
“But we are favorites in this game,” the U.S. Coach continued. “And that’s what we’re focused on. We have to respect our opponents. Our objective right now is to make it to the next round, and then we go from there.”
Sitting next to Berhalter at the podium was Weston McKennie, the 20-year-old Schalke 04 MF who is set to play in his first Gold Cup.
“It’s my first senior international competition,” McKennie said. “I expect it to be a little bit different. It’s always going to be more competitive when you’re playing for a title at the end.”
“Obviously I don’t base my own competitiveness off of whether it’s a tournament or a friendly,” said McKennie. “I’m ready to go, and I’ve got full trust in my coaches and the squad around me. I think it will be a great experience for everyone.”
Kickoff for Tuesday night’s USA vs. Guyana match will be 10 ET, preceded by the Group D opener between Panama and Trinidad and Tobago at 7:30 ET.