The U.S. national men's soccer team remains hungry after Wednesday's disappointing 1-0 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup.
"We are just so frustrated because we know we should have won that game," midfielder John Harkes said.
On Friday, the Americans get the chance to back up their bravado against a German team that cannot afford to lose. The teams play their final first-round game at Jalisco Stadium at 7 p.m.
The Americans will reach the semifinals -- likely against host Mexico at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium on Sunday -- with a win or a draw. But the United States will have to overcome history to get there: Germany's national team has never failed to advance out of the first round in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament.
But, in perhaps a harbinger, the German players -- who are drawing heavy criticism at home for their play -- are already distancing themselves from the tournament.
"I love the excuses," Harkes said. "They're mentioning that it's the preseason and they aren't as fit, and maybe that's true. But I know that when I played all year in England and came back to play with the U.S.A. in the summers, I maybe had a week to myself."
Certainly, the Americans have a lot to be proud of: They played an exceptional game against Brazil, and psychologically, perhaps, cleared a major hurdle. In fact, the topic that rankles the American men most here is not whether they will win or lose Friday, but the incessant comparisons to the U.S. women's team, which won the Women's World Cup.
"If we can advance [to the semifinals], it will be a very positive step," U.S. Coach Bruce Arena said. "If not, maybe the accomplishments we have made to date will seem meaningless to some people. . . . One very positive thing we've already shown here is the ability to play in different ways. That is all part of the growth process."
The Americans will need depth to have a chance against Germany. After the U.S. team ran hard for 90 minutes against Brazil in high altitude, Arena could make as many as five lineup changes.
The probable changes include: defender C.J. Brown starting for D.C. United's Carlos Llamosa, who suffered a quadriceps strain Wednesday; Paul Bravo getting his first start in midfield, allowing Gregg Berhalter to step back into the center defense and give Jeff Agoos or Robin Fraser a rest; Cobi Jones taking a seat to give Joe-Max Moore 90 minutes; and Harkes starting, possibly spelled by Richie Williams.
Arena said he would not make final decisions until shortly before kickoff.
"Surprisingly, almost everyone here feels pretty good," U.S. forward Brian McBride said. Friday, "we just have to maintain the team's shape. We can't allow [Germany] second-chance balls and we can't give up the wings. Yesterday, we stayed pretty compact, whether they were pressing, or we were up or we were in midfield, which was our goal. The bottom line is that a lot of the game is going to be based on team pressure."
And, despite needing only a draw, the Americans say no one is going to sit back.
"We have to be the aggressor," Agoos said. "You have to play for the win and not get passive, because when you play for the draw, you lose."