Going from facing Uruguay to Grenada in the space of a week could be quite a jarring experience for the United States Men’s National Team.
La Celeste are currently ranked 13th in the world and have reached the quarter-finals in their last three major tournaments (2x Copa America, 1x World Cup).
Grenada, meanwhile, are 170th in the world, last qualified for the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2011 and are winless in their last nine internationals – a run that includes defeats to the likes of Andorra, Montserrat, and Antigua & Barbuda.
But that alone could present the USMNT with challenges in their Concacaf Nations League match at Q2 Stadium, with the threat of complacency and overconfidence lurking in the shadows on Friday.
However, winger Jordan Morris has promised supporters that the USMNT will not drop their standards and will approach Grenada in exactly the same way as Uruguay.
“Nothing changes based on the opponent,” said Morris. “We go out and execute our game plan and work on the things that we want to work on in the game. Everyone’s going to go out and compete and show themselves to the best of their ability.
“It comes back to the collective and getting better as a team, because there’s not that many games left before the World Cup and we want to continue to take steps before that tournament.”
If nothing else, Gregg Berhalter and his players must remember this is a competitive match. Nations League points are on the line and each and every American player has a point to prove with the World Cup in Qatar fast approaching.
“I think anytime that you’re playing for a trophy, it’s a great experience. It obviously doesn’t mimic a World Cup but it’s a similar sense, that you’re trying to accomplish a goal and win a trophy,” Morris added. “The mentality throughout the last one was great … it brought the group closer together, instilled confidence, and pushed us forward, and I think that we’re going to use this as a similar platform these couple of games.”
Fellow winger and FC Dallas star Paul Arriola concurs, recalling the confidence boost the USMNT gained from winning the inaugural Nations League last year.
“This tournament helped us a lot to gain confidence in the team as a whole,” said Arriola. “Winning this tournament for the first time was very important for us, it gave us the confidence that we can win cups and tournaments. So for us right now the most important thing is to focus on defending our title, and also trying to improve.”