Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch has given his assessment on the attitude of the USMNT ahead of their World Cup match with England on Friday evening.
His comments come after his national side began their journey in the World Cup finals with a 1-1 draw against Wales on Monday night after a late Gareth Bale penalty cancelled out Tim Weah’s goal in the first half. Considering their domination of the first period of the fixture, Gregg Berhalter’s side will no doubt be frustrated that they let Wales into the game after half-time, resulting in them leaving the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium with one point rather than three.
Winning the opening game of the group stages acts as a significant boost towards qualification for any national side, and that remains the case here. With Wales and the USA now sitting level in group B with one point apiece, it is likely that qualification will be decided in the final round of group fixtures.
England, on the other hand, registered a resounding 6-2 win over Iran in their opening match of the tournament; the confidence of the Three Lions will undoubtedly be flying high heading into Friday’s clash as a result.
Marsch, who was assistant coach for the US at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, advocated tempering expectations for when the Stars and Stripes face England.
“We’re foolishly optimistic in the US,” he claimed.
“We always think we can be the best, and we expect to be the best – even in this sport, where we are clearly not.
“That’s our arrogance, that’s what we are. We will expect to get out of the group and we will expect to win a game or two, even though those expectations are far too high with where we’re at.
“Everyone in the US, anytime we play England, everyone gets really excited. I’ll be cheering for the US and I know it will take their absolute best performance to have a chance.”
Despite this, the American was also quick to praise the “sense of fearlessness” which he believes to be inherent in the USA’s national psyche.
“But one of the things that’s uniquely American is that sense of fearlessness. We thrive and enjoy the moments when things are their hardest and when everyone expects us to lose,” he said.
Marsch’s comments here reflect the most admirable qualities of his character: his determination, single-mindedness and never say die mentality.
Whilst his focus is primarily on exercising caution regarding Friday’s upcoming fixture – in fact, many have even interpreted his claims of the US’s “foolish optimism” as wholly negative – the opposite is true. Considering the importance Marsch puts on optimism and, more generally, belief in managing Leeds, his identification of this quality in the American side is meant to be praising rather than derisive.
Will the “sense of fearlessness” he believes the team to possess be enough to gain victory over a resolute, technically-gifted England side, though?
All eyes will be on the Al Bayt Stadium at 19:00 GMT tomorrow to find out.