We're two days away from the United States facing off against Ecuador at CenturyLink Field in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals. After getting off to a rocky start to the tournament, Jurgen Klinsmann's side has rebounded with back-to-back victories and have a ton of confidence heading into Seattle.
Klinsmann deserves a lot of credit for believing in his side and sticking with a consistent lineup through all three group matches. Despite the positive results of late, the USA manager isn't letting up on his team. On Monday he told reporters that he wants to see his team "go for it" and become the aggressor instead of hoping to overcome the odds.
"The whole old story is the underdog story, and I cannot hear that story anymore," the U.S. coach said. "I want to see them risk things. Let's go for it. Because if you're not going for it, sooner or later they're going to break you down."
From day one it's been Klinsmann's mantra to play "proactive" soccer. So far we've seen rare glimpses of an attacking style during his tenure, but when the important matches come around, it always seems like the Americans are on the back foot.
The extra time loss to Belgium in the 2014 World Cup being a prime example of his remarks. Klinsmann wants to see his team become the team putting on the pressure not the one absorbing it.
"What we would love to see is just that they become more confident and courageous to take the game to those big teams and not playing just counter break football," Klinsmann said.
Does this team have that type of potential? Under it's current construction and gameplan it's hard to say. The starting lineups he has trotted out during this tournament have been filled with players who have tireless work rates but lack the technical quality to sustain a possession-oriented style against talented teams. The preferred lineup as it is, seems conducive to a counter-attacking style more than it does an aggressive one.
There's no shame in absorbing pressure and counter-attacking. It's won the U.S. many matches in the past and it helped them beat Paraguay in the last group match. Klinsmann controls the lineup and he has to decide what's more important, playing an aggressive style or playing one that has been working.