U.S. men's national team (USMNT) midfielder Tyler Adams says he would rather play against England or France than in El Salvador as he explained the circumstances faced by any travelling team in CONCACAF after Thursday's World Cup qualifying opener.
Adams captained the USMNT on Thursday in El Salvador in a match that saw the U.S. held in a 0-0 draw at a hostile Estadio Cuscatlan with the hosts frustrating the visitors in front of a raucous home crowd.
The midfielder, who has played in a Champions League semifinal for RB Leipzig, says outsiders don't fully understand how hard it is to navigate these games while setting his sights on much better performances after a disappointing draw on Thursday.
What did Adams say?
"I talk with my teammates at Leipzig all the time about which games I have during the international window," he said. "They sit there and laugh because they have to play against England, France, obviously some great countries with a lot of talent.
"I tell them, 'Trust me, I'd rather play against France or England in these games where the conditions and the fans and the pitch and the ball and everything is an ideal situation'. For us, it's never going to be an ideal situation on the road.
"The energy is just completely different. You have to go into the game with the right mindset, and be ready to battle. That's the best way to describe it. They're intense, they're feisty, they're gritty. You can't go into these games naive. So yeah, for me, I think that the energy going into these games has to be right."
The big picture
The general belief is teams should aim to get a point on the road and all three at home in CONCACAF so, by that measure, the U.S. are off to a good start.
However, with El Salvador being among the weakest in the eight-team field, many expected the U.S. to begin qualifying with a bang, including Adams himself, who called for the team to put together a nine-point week pre-game.
That is now out the window, adding a bit more pressure ahead of Sunday's home match against Canada. After that, the U.S. will face another difficult road test when they play at Honduras next week.
"The standard is obviously to get three points in every game, but we know that that's obviously not always going to be the easiest especially after a game like this," Adams said.
"So, moving into Sunday we know that having our fans behind our back and getting that momentum is going to be super important because that puts us obviously in an even better position to go back on the road again for the Honduras game."
He added: "I get the same feeling from the team that the standard is high, the bar is high. We want to win as many away games as possible.
"We know that tangibly it's not going to be the easiest and we knew that before we had that first experience, but now, after having that first experience, I think that we know we have to dig in a little bit deeper in the late stages of the game.
"When we continue to create these half chances, we just need to get after it, we need to finish and put these games away.
"We know that we have the quality to do so but, again, these games don't rely on quality; these games rely on your mentality and how far you can dig deep and really just give it everything."