The USA are upbeat that they can pull off a major shock and defeat European champions Spain to move into the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 final. Coach Bob Bradley is realistic enough to know his team face an uphill battle against a side unbeaten since November 2006, but has belief in his players ahead of their semi-final here on Wednesday.
"We're excited, the team is on a high," he said. "We understand the challenge of playing Spain. From a technical standpoint, they are so proficient. But it is a chance for us to test ourselves and perhaps get to the final."
If the US do the unthinkable and win, it will go down as one of the most important victories in their football history. Bradley knows the stakes are high.
"If we are able to win it will be so important. Right from the start we have talked about growing and shooting higher and now we have an opportunity to get to the final," he said.
"It is the right kind of experience that we need and all we can do is go for it and hope that our best can take us to a new level."
The US are unexpected semi-finalists after beating Egypt 3-0 on Sunday while Italy lost by the same margin to Brazil. It allowed Bradley's team to stay in the tournament on goals scored, after finishing level with the Azzurri on goal difference.
They have no injury worries going into the game, with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard set to start after Brad Guzan was given a chance against Egypt. Their only concern is Rennes defender Carlos Bocanegra, who has been carrying a hamstring injury, but is now back training. Bradley acknowledged the danger posed by Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and the ingenuity of Barcelona's Xavi in midfield, and said his team must go out and play their own game.
"When playing a team like Spain we are challenged to be good on the ball, and we have to put their defenders under pressure and create chances," Bradley said.
"It will take a good game plan, but also full commitment from the players."
Landon Donovan, David Beckham's teammate at the Los Angeles Galaxy and the all-time top scorer for the US, said the team had the ability to give Spain a run for their money.
"Considering they haven't lost in a very long time against quality opponents, the challenge is very difficult," said Donovan, who will captain the team if Bocanegra fails to recover.
"However, we believe in ourselves and if we play well, then we have a chance to win the game. That's our intention and we'll go out with a good game plan and try to get the job done."