ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the past few weeks, a number of billboards sprung up around the city of Orlando advertising the US men’s national team’s Concacaf Nations League match against Canada on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN), with the word “payback” written on top.
After the team’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Canada in October, this game has been billed as a revenge game by many. Now, with the team facing a must-win home match against their northern neighbors, the players seem to feel the same way.
“I don’t like to put that pressure, but in reality, it is,” defender Reggie Cannon said on Monday. “We lost and now it’s time to step up and respond to the challenge that we’re placed in. We dug ourselves in this hole but we can definitely get out of it.”
That self-imposed pressure is one that seems to resonate through the entire team. With some frustrating performances and results over the last few months, the USMNT are eager to show their fans just what they’re capable of and put on a show for the Orlando faithful.
“You use that game to learn from and get better,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We certainly weren’t good enough on the night and we need to make sure that when we step on the field, come Friday night, we give ourselves the best chance to get three points.”
Building off the performance in October, head coach Gregg Berhalter felt that his team lacked intensity against Canada, a part of the game he’s hoping his players not only learned from but also build on.
“I can guarantee you that it will be a different-looking game on Friday,” Berhalter said. “Sometimes it takes a fire getting lit under you to get that response and we’re always striving a mixture. We want that super-high intensity but we also want to be able to pick teams apart and play our way.”
With the team missing two of their star players in Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic, others will need to fill their shoes with a next-man-up mentality, as they hope to rectify the result of the previous game and produce a better performance in a match the US must win handily if they are to retain any hope of winning Group A of CNL League A and advancing to the new competition’s knockout stages.
“Nothing less than a win is going to be good enough,” Guzan said.