DETROIT — To hear the fans tell it, the US national team’s 4-0 loss to Spain just a few days before Tuesday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opener against Canada at Ford Field is an omen of troubles to come.
To hear the players tell it, the Spain game is already behind them.
“That game is finished,” veteran defender Carlos Bocanegra said. “It was finished a half hour after it was over. It sucks, obviously, we were pissed off. It was a big game, the spotlight was on. But in the big scheme of things, it meant nothing.”
“It’s a one-off friendly against the best team in the world,” said New York Red Bulls center back Tim Ream. “You just take it with a grain of salt. You take the mistakes you made and learn from them and correct them going into the game tomorrow.”
The Canadians, who trained earlier in the afternoon, said they did not expect the Spain result to affect the US. Head coach Stephen Hart shrugged it off as merely an exhibition, but one that the US is hoping to learn from and maybe even build off of.
"We can do a little better offensively opening up spaces and angles," San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski said. "And we're now ready and prepared and we can go out there and get a W."
On Tuesday, the Americans are expecting an enthusiastic start from a Canadian side that many observers feel is out for revenge. The controversial loss in the semifinals of the 2007 Gold Cup remains fresh in many Canadian soccer fans’ minds. Plus, with the game taking place just across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario, the crowd will include a large contingent of Canadians.
“We counter that with just as much energy or more,” defender Steve Cherundolo said. “And good soccer. We have our game plan, we’re going to stick to that.”
And what is that game plan exactly?
“We come out with energy,” Bocanegra said. “We fight hard. We challenge every tackle. When we do that, we always give ourselves a good chance to win. If we don’t come out with energy and we don’t try to get stuck in and we think we can just pass the ball around—that’s not us. If we can play at a high level like we did against Spain [in the 2009 Confederations Cup], against the CONCACAF teams, we’re going to do very well.”