I’m going to borrow my own line from last weekend following the USMNT’s friendly loss to Switzerland: Friendlies are friendlies, and good teams know how to work their way through them and find good stuff to learn and take away from them, then apply them for real when the whistle blows in official competitions.
But history is littered with teams who did only part of that and were just never able to flip that switch, get out of third gear and get into “must-win” mode.
This is especially true of young teams. Veteran sides have, by definition, been there before and more often than not know where to find the switch and how to turn it on. Young teams? Well, it’s a journey.
This is a point I’ve made repeatedly over the past few years, but especially in the past week. I was not sure if this team even knew how to begin looking for the switch, and was worried they’d become somewhat complacent.
That worry was unfounded . . .