USMNT stars targeting dominant World Cup qualifying campaign

Lizzy Becherano
Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams during United States v Mexico: Championship - CONCACAF Nations League Finals
Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams during United States v Mexico: Championship - CONCACAF Nations League Finals / Omar Vega/Getty Images

US men’s national team players Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams are aiming to set the standards high for the upcoming 2020 World Cup qualifiers, hoping to prove the American side reigns over Concacaf. 

The USMNT claimed two Concacaf titles this summer, defeating Mexico on both occasions to lift the Nations League and Gold Cup trophies. 

“Our goal is to prove also that we’re the best in Concacaf, and I think the only way to do that is to dominate it – and to dominate you’ve got to win your games. that’s what we're here to do,” said midfielder Weston McKennie ahead of Thursday’s Octagonal round opener against El Salvador. 

Juventus player McKennie played an influential role in the American team’s summer success alongside teammate and RB Leipzig player Adams.

Like McKennie, the Bundesliga midfielder spoke frankly about his ambitions for the national team during the Octagonal round of qualifiers after falling short of reaching the 2018 World Cup. 

“We've talked about it as a group, how in the last cycle, they [the US] didn't win one game away from home. So going into this window, right off the bat we have two opportunities to win two games away, and that puts us obviously in a good position. We're looking for a nine-point week, bottom line. We want to set the standard.

“You can't be naive in these games,” Adams said. “When you go into these games being naive, thinking that they're going to be an easy game or that there's going to be opportunities for a lot of goals, I think this is where you’re able to make a lot of mental mistakes. And for us, going into this game, we need to be prepared for a challenge, for a battle.”

Throughout the conference, both Adams and McKennie remained confident that this round of qualifiers would be different. Building off the summer’s success, the Juventus player believes a winning mentality may propel the United States to top tables. 

“Our mentality, the coaching staff’s, I think, from top to bottom, throughout the US organization here, I think our mentality is to go in and win all the games that we can,” said McKennie.

“I think there's an evolution with everyone in the group,” said RB Leipzig star Adams. “Our confidence in the group is growing a lot, the team chemistry as well is starting to grow. There's a huge belief in every single player and every single staff member that's involved.

"As far as Gregg goes, I think that he's more and more excited about the group every single day. I think that when he sees that his plans are working and coming to fruition, he has a huge belief in the group and exactly what he's doing."