The United States is up against the Netherlands in Qatar on Saturday as the knockout stage of the World Cup kicks off.
This is the first time the Americans take on the Netherlands at a World Cup – and they’re facing them as underdogs. The Americans have not advanced past the Round of 16 since the 2002 tournament.
But captain Tyler Adams said they’re ready.
“We’re going to have to give it our all,” Adams said. “But I think that’s where our mentality has been really, really good against some of the biggest opponents now.”
The U.S. has reached this stage seven times before – most recently, in 2014.
“The U.S. has gotten to this point before, but pretty rare to get beyond it,” said journalist Grant Wahl. “I don’t think this U.S. team fears any other team in the tournament.”
They’ve been relying on star forward Christian Pulisic – nicknamed Captain America – who was cleared Friday night to play after a pelvic injury. The 24-year-old scored the team’s winning goal against Iran on Tuesday, but collided with the goalkeeper and ended up in the hospital.
He said his “team’s talent – and spirit – help him focus on the field.
“They know that I got their back. They got mine. That’s how it works,” he said.
The American players are “giving everything for each other, for this country,” he said.
“You can see all the individual talent … but without the brotherhood and without this family aspect, you know, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he added.
The match at Khalifa International Stadium cannot end in a tie. Instead it could go into extra time – maybe even a penalty shootout.
The winning team goes on to the quarterfinals. The losing team heads home.
U.S. men’s national team defender Walker Zimmerman told CBS News on Friday the team is focused on the task at hand.
“We’ve been the underdogs before,” Zimmerman said. ‘U.S. Soccer is used to that role, and I think it’s kind of what has made our team so special, is the resiliency that we have, that competitive spirit that every team before us has had.”