FRISCO, Texas -- Jill Ellis wasn't taking anything for granted. When her team gathered together to start training for the 2018 Concacaf Women's Championship, the United States head coach put a picture up of the Women's World Cup trophy.
She said that was the defending world champions' destination as the trophy faded into the background.
"Right now we've got to earn the right to get there," she told her team.
"I think that's the message the players know, this is game is crazy and everything we have to do is earn the right to be there," Ellis added. "I don't think they're overconfident. I think there's a tremendous confidence in the group. Before our first game, Carli [Lloyd, forward] spoke to the group and she said take nothing for granted."
And that included Jamaica, the USA's opponent in Sunday's semifinal encounter at Toyota Stadium. The winner will book at spot at France 2019, the loser will try again in the third-place match Wednesday night.
"We've played teams with a lot of fast forwards, fast number nines,” Ellis said. "They [Jamaica] have good size, so they have aerial presence to play with. They have the pace, skill and talent to hurt your transition. If you put a team into an opportunity to qualify for a World Cup, we're going to get the best of them."
Ellis liked the Americans' chances of qualifying for their eighth consecutive Women's World Cup.
"We have a very deep squad," she concluded. "We have a lot of talent and a lot of choices. But what's been consistent over the past six months is the players understand the roles and responsibilities with the game and getting better at it.
"The players are in a really good spot, physically and mentally and they're ready to do this."