Weston McKennie has insisted he and his USMNT teammates ‘didn’t feel like an underdog’ during their 0-0 draw with England on Friday.
Despite being unfancied by most, the Stars and Stripes more than held their own against one of the pre-tournament favorites, eventually out-shooting England 10-8 and coming close to scoring a winner through efforts from McKennie and Christian Pulisic.
While the USMNT‘s performance may have come as a surprise to some, that won’t be the case for those who have watched them closely over the past few years.
The American players certainly didn’t suffer from any inferiority complex against the Three Lions.
“There’s a lot of people that obviously thought we were going to get blown out,” McKennie said after Friday’s match. “We went into this game [to] the outside world obvious underdogs. But for us, we didn’t feel like an underdog at all. Because we know our capabilities, we know what we can do. We know what talents and fight and spirit we have. So I think we’re not really afraid of playing against top-tier teams.”
Friday’s result leaves the United States just about in control of their own World Cup destiny, knowing a victory against Iran on Tuesday well send them into the round-of-16. Anything less and the USMNT will be heading from Qatar without a single victory.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter paid tribute to the mentality of his players agaisnt the Three Lions, setting up what is effectively a knockout match in the final round of Group B games.
“The belief of the group, that never wavered,” Berhalter said post-game. “What I saw in pregame was a team that was extremely focused on getting a result tonight, and I’m glad we did so. So in the end, it sets up our first knockout game in the World Cup, basically. Win or we’re out of the World Cup, and that’s going to be a focus of ours.”
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