The United States Men's National Team cannot let their guard drop ahead of their Concacaf Nations League double-header.
On paper, matches against Grenada and El Salvador aren't quite as exciting considering the USMNT are coming off friendlies against Uruguay and Morocco - ranked 13th and 24th in the world and recent quarter-finalists at their respective continental tournaments.
But time is running out for players to prove to Gregg Berhalter that they have what it takes to be on his roster for the World Cup in November.
And if nothing else, the USMNT head into the opening match against Grenada - ranked 170th in the world - on Friday looking to begin the defense of the title they won last summer, knowing Friday's visitors to Q2 Stadium would love nothing more than to pull off a shock result.
“We have to have the same approach to each game and I think that's going to be a challenge for this group,” full-back Reggie Cannon told reporters on Tuesday (via MLSsoccer.com). “You're going to have to have the same approach and same mentality to every game [at the World Cup]. Can't really lower that mentality, because those are when these teams are going to be the most dangerous.
“Which is why I think these types of games are going to help benefit this group the most. When you’re going from Morocco to Uruguay to now Grenada, it’s going to be a very tough mental switch, but it's our responsibility to do.”
Midfielder and fellow FC Dallas product Kellyn Acosta agrees with Cannon, insisting the USMNT are approaching this Nations League run with the same 'competitive' edge.
“I don’t think this camp has been different than any other camps,” said Acosta. “As players, we come in to national camps ready to make an imprint of ourselves and having that competitive drive that's already within us, that kind of translates on the field, I think for all of us, we're all competitive, we're all winners. And so when it comes to training sessions, we all bring it.”
If nothing else, the United States must be on their guard against Grenada, who proved they're no pushovers with a 2-2 draw against El Salvador on Tuesday after holding La Selecta to 1-1 from the fourth minute until the 43rd just days prior.
The Caribbean nation are packed with players from USL and the English lower leagues, all hungry to prove a point against one of the traditional Concacaf giants.
“It's going to be a dogfight," Acosta declared. “First starting point is intensity and mentality. We've got to shift our focus; Grenada is going to be a tough game. It's going to be a team with some talent, and we’ve definitely got to be mindful.”
Friday's match is the first of just four remaining fixtures between now and the start of the USMNT's World Cup campaign against Wales on November 22. For every single player in contention, there's work to be done.