The Copa America Centenario quarterfinal between the USA and Ecuador will take place on June 16, 2016, where Clint Dempsey (pictured) plays for the Seattle Sounders. (Photo: Mexsport)
SEATTLE, Washington -- Playing in a knockout round doesn't necessarily increase the pressure on the United States, says striker Clint Dempsey. He figures the team has been playing the entire Copa America Centenario on the edge.
The Americans face Ecuador in a quarterfinal match at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night. The winner will play the victor of Saturday's Argentina-Venezuela pairing in the semifinals in Houston, Texas, on June 21.
"It's still the same situation, do or die," Dempsey remarked. "If you don't win, you don't keep going on. You go home. It's the same you had the last few games. Important game and we'll be ready for it."
Since dropping a 2-0 decision to Colombia in its Group A opener, the U.S. needed two straight wins to advance. The five-time CONCACAF Gold Cup champion recorded a 4-0 triumph over Costa Rica, before securing a 1-0 victory over Paraguay to win the group.
Dempsey, who has scored twice for the Americans, is quite familiar with the stadium since he performs there for the Seattle Sounders. He knows the place will be rocking, especially since the Sounders average 39,848 fans a game and a capacity crowd is a genuine possibility.
“The environment makes it special, that passion for the game,” said Dempsey. "It's awesome [playing] here week in and week out."
The 33-year-old striker has been encouraged by the way the USA has grown throughout the tournament.
"There's a lot of character, there's a lot of heart in this team," he noted. "We have our backs against the wall and we turn to each other and people stand up."
The Americans have silenced their critics, though Dempsey would not gloat.
"Satisfaction is just getting out of the group, doing well in the competition," the former Fulham standout explained. "That's what we're excited about. The important thing is still being alive in this competition. We're going to try to do something special.”
In a May 25 warm-up match in Frisco, Texas, the U.S. defeated Ecuador, 1-0.
"There are certain things that you can take from the game," finished Dempsey. "But, at the same time, it wasn't a game where the pressure was on. This game will be slightly different."