United States needs better 'collective effort' against Nicaragua - Arena
CLEVELAND - U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena said he'd like to see "a better collective effort" from his team in Saturday's Gold Cup encounter with Nicaragua, though he added his side will need to be mindful of an opponent playing with no pressure.
The U.S. has looked far from convincing in collecting four points from its first two group matches. The Americans opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Panama and then were given a fright from unheralded Martinique, squandering a two-goal lead before prevailing 3-2.
Arena still insisted on taking a positive tack on his side.
"I thought the team played well in the last game and we were very close to having a dominating performance," he said at his prematch press conference. "I thought in game two of group play the team played well. Game one was not our best game, but give Panama credit as well and the same for Martinique. But I think we've made progress and we're heading in the right direction."
Nicaragua lost both of their matches, falling to Martinique 2-0 before losing to Panama, 2-1. As such it will take a miracle for Los Pinoleros to advance to the knockout stages. Arena insists that makes Nicaragua a dangerous opponent.
"When players can play free, they often play better, so I think they'll be relaxed," said Arena about Nicaragua. "From what I've seen in the first two games, they can be direct, they can be good on the break. We saw a spectacular goal the other day versus Panama, so we need to be prepared to play."
Arena added that he'd like to see more consistency from his side, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
"We were sloppy on a couple of plays that created probably two to three good chances for Martinique during the game, so we have to be little bit more solid," he said. "When we have a lot of possession of the ball we need to keep our concentration.
"At times we got caught on the break a little bit. We were a little bit sloppy on a couple of occasions, and it cost us, so we have to have better concentration and better collective effort from our team."