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Jurgen Klinsmann confident U.S. can beat Colombia in Copa America opener

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann believes his team has what it takes to beat Colombia when the teams kick off the Copa America Centenario in Friday's tournament opener at Levi's Stadium.

"Having the opportunity to open up the competition with a game against Colombia, which is one of the best teams in the world, it's a real pleasure," Klinsmann told reporters during his prematch news conference on Thursday.

"But it's also something that in this specific moment you want to see where you stand, where you are right now. ... I think we have strong enough, talented enough players to beat Colombia."

Klinsmann has set the goal of reaching the semifinals of the one-off joint CONCACAF and CONMEBOL tournament, which was organized to celebrate the 100th anniversary of South America's regional championship.

But first they have to get out of a tough Group A that also includes Paraguay and CONCACAF rival Costa Rica. Three points in the curtain raiser would go a long way toward ensuring survival.

"It's a nice challenge, and for us it's a way to benchmark ourselves, [show] how good we are, and give them a real, real tough game."

After a disappointing 2015, the U.S. is 6-1-0 this year. The've won all three of their pre-Copa tuneups, including victories against South American opponents Ecuador and Bolivia.

Colombia will pose a stiffer challenge. Klinsmann noted that the Cafeteros boast several world class attacking players, including James Rodriguez of Real Madrid, Carlos Bacca of AC Milan and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado.

"They are all difference makers," he said. "They are also beatable."

Ever since the U.S. lost to Belgium in the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Klinsmann has stressed that the next step in the development of the national team is to consistently win knockout games at major tournaments. But the Americans were upset in the semifinals of last summer's Gold Cup by Jamaica. And unless they win their Copa group, a potential quarterfinal date with Brazil, the Group B favorite, looms.

Still, Klinsmann said his team is focused only on advancing, not topping the foursome and securing a potentially easier second-round matchup.

"Step one is to get out of the group, which we will do. Then we will take it one game at a time," Klinsmann said. "We don't have the luxury to say, 'What would be better?' We have only one message: We've got to go through the group. And then whatever comes then in the quarterfinal is fine with us."

There are more pressing matters at hand, though, starting with Friday's match against a team ranked No. 3 in the latest FIFA rankings.

"The goal right now is to win tomorrow night," Bradley said before the squad's final pre-tourney practice.

"I don't spend a lot of time worrying about anything beyond tomorrow night at the moment."