SAN JOSE, Calif. - U.S. men's national team captain Michael Bradley is looking at Friday's World Cup qualifier against Honduras as "the beginning of our chance to put things right and get ourselves back in a good position."
The U.S. currently sits at the bottom of its final round qualifying group, behind Trinidad & Tobago on goal difference.
The Americans dropped the first two qualifiers in the Hexagonal - 2-1 against Mexico and a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Costa Rica - for the first time since CONCACAF adopted the current format ahead of the 1998 World Cup. The hope is that the hiring of Bruce Arena as manager will kickstart the Americans' qualifying campaign.
"The reality is simple. We let ourselves down in the first two games," Bradley told reporters following Tuesday's training session. "It means that our margin for error is now very, very small. Nothing has changed in that we still feel good about the team that we have, the group that we are.
"I think Bruce has come in and done a good job in terms of reestablishing certain things, getting out a few things. I think the mentality and the spirit in training and around the group, both in January and now this week has been excellent."
When asked what things in particular Arena had focused on, Bradley said the emphasis had been "across the board."
"We feel like we let some different things slip, and [Arena has] come in and found the right way to work and talk and show some things and make sure that we understand who we are and what we're about and ultimately we're stepping on the field giving ourselves the best chance to win," he said.
Honduras is expected to get plenty of players behind the ball, and then try to hit the U.S. on the break through speedy attackers like Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis, with former Seattle Sounder Mario Martinez and Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek providing the creativity in midfield.
Breaking down such opposition could prove difficult for a U.S. side that in the past has struggled against teams that bunker in.
"Certainly patience is important," said Bradley. "You understand that when you play against a team that has a lot of guys behind the ball, and lines are tight, [there's] the understanding that things aren't going to come easy, there's not going to be tons of space. It's not going to be - I wouldn't think - a wide-open game.
"We've worked on a few different things in terms of how we like to go about things so that we can put them on their heels a little bit, be dangerous, and tilt the bar in our favor. And still in a moment like this it's going to come down to the group and the group on the night playing a really good game."
Bradley emphasized that the U.S. will be focused on what lies ahead, and not the two previous defeats.
"There is zero point in continuing to look back on that at the moment," he said. "We are where we are, and now it's about on Friday night beginning this process of moving ourselves back up the table, and stepping on the field from the first minute and playing in a really aggressive way that ultimately leaves no doubt who is stepping off the field a winner."