Nobody said the Copa America Centenario would be easy for the US national team, and especially not when they reached the knockout rounds.
Defender Geoff Cameron retained his place in central defense on Thursday, in the USMNT's 2-1 quarterfinal round win over Ecuador at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and afterwards discussed the tall order ahead of his team in that game, and the tournament as a whole.
"We’ve known from the get-go," he told FOX's Jenny Taft after the game. "We knew it was going to be tough playing against Colombia [in the opening match of the tournament] and the caliber of team they are.
"But saying that, we won our second game and third game. We’re in the quarterfinals and now we’re on to the semifinals."
The defensive backbone of Brad Guzan in goal and Fabian Johnson, Cameron, John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin across the backline that served the US so well in group-stage wins over Costa Rica and Paraguay did not remain intact for this game. Yedlin was out serving a one-game suspension following his red card in the Paraguay game, with Matt Besler stepping in against Ecuador.
“I thought Matt was solid today," Cameron said. "He stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. And they have some quick wingers. But Fabian moved over to the right and Matt stepped in to the left and it was clockwork. Guys were organized. They talked. And they communicated with one another.
"Everybody worked together as one and I think that’s why we’re so successful. Everybody is leaving it out on the field. People didn’t think we’d be in the semifinals and here we are."
The final 10 minutes were as nervy as any the US have faced in quite some time, but despite Ecuador's furious attempts to complete their second two-goal comeback at this Copa America, the Americans did just enough to get the win in regulation.
"When Graham [Zusi] came in and moved over to that side he kind of locked down that side a little bit better and blocked some crosses and so it was easier for us to step out," Cameron explained. "But they were throwing guys forward. They wanted to get a goal. It was just tough. Guys just threw themselves in.
"And you know you have to have luck sometimes, and the luck’s going our way. And we just have to keep it going.”
With the US now set to face either tournament favorite Argentina or surprise quarterfinalist Venezuela in the semifinal round, Cameron and company believe they can keep the current run going.
"Anything is possible and the fact that the teamwork, the guys that are in the locker room we’re all sacrificing ourselves for one another and leaving it all out on the pitch,” he said. "We’ve done that every single game so far, and you’ve seen the success of it.”