USMNT

Recap: USMNT 1–1 Ecuador

Watching Landon Donovan walk out onto the field in East Hartford, the names of the ten men he led became almost irrelevant. None mattered. But those ten men will remember the moment. Donovan will, too, with Sunil Gulati presenting him with a jersey collage of all the national team jerseys he has worn, mounted on a display case with the names of all the teammates he’s taken the field alongside. It was a small moment, really, but touching. Donovan’s No. 10 can’t be retired, obviously, but the next man to take it up and make it his own in a permanent way will have great shoes to fill.

For all that, there was a game, too.

First half

The most interesting bits of the roster not named Landon were the two players playing in unusual positions. DeAndre Yedlin started at right midfield, ahead of Timmy Chandler, and Alejandro Bedoya was in the center, alongside Mix Diskerud.

The Americans came out amped, clearly up for Donovan’s last game. The energy paid off, with the U.S. scoring an early 5th minute goal. Donovan was at the heart of it, chasing a pass up the left sideline. His cross from the endline found Jozy Altidore at the far post, but his attempted shot was miscued, He recovered, however, and gave the ball to a supporting Yedlin. Yedlin looked up and centered the ball to a late-arriving Diskerud, who finished first time. It was a good team goal, instigated by the running and technique of Donovan, finished off by the man who might very well replace him in the national team setup.

Donovan nearly got on the score sheet himself, shortly after. A long cross from Chandler was chased down by Joe Gyau on the left corner of the 18-yard box. His attempt to cross deflected off a defender and straight to Donovan’s head. His snap header was on target, but well saved around the post.

The game settled down somewhat after that, with Ecuador threatening the U.S. back line on through balls or over the top, though not putting any chances on goal. Joe Gyau was removed after appearing to tweak his left knee while cutting the ball back, and was replaced by Bobby Wood.

But Donovan brought the energy level back up as the end of his projected 30 minutes approached. Diskerud played a pass straight up the Ecuador gut to Altidore, who did well to hold it up on the edge of the box. Seeing Donovan’s off-ball run, he back-heeled the captain into the box. Donovan took one touch and shot across the keeper, beating him handily, only for the ball to rattle straight back off the far post.

Guzan had a little bit of work to do a few moments later, when Chandler was muscled off the ball and subjected the keeper to a breakaway. The Aston Villa man stood up well to block the shot, then made two excellent saves following the resultant corner.

The half-hour mark passed without a Donovan substitution, as Klinsmann and everyone else waited and waited for Donovan to get one more chance. He’d get it in the 38th. Taking the ball out of defense, Donovan fed Altidore on the left side of the Ecuador box. Altidore could have taken the ball on and looked for a shot, but, sensing the moment, looked up and crossed the ball back to Donovan as he arrived at the box. Donovan took the ball down and got a shot away, but it dribbled just wide.

There would be no perfect moment, in the end. Donovan came off in the 40th, having played ten minutes longer than planned, searching for something special. He shared an awkward hug with Klinsmann on the sideline, then more heartfelt ones with other members of the coaching staff and teammates on the bench, and the half had the good graces to end without further incident.

Second half

Surprisingly, both teams came back out for the second half, even though the game, with Donovan’s exit, was over. The U.S. looked fairly comfortable in the early going, with more good play from Altidore giving Joe Corona, Donovan’s replacement, a chance inside the box, Corona, however, delayed his shot too long and had it blocked.

On the hour mark, a great cross from Chandler nearly found Altidore in the six-yard box, but the covering defender just got in the way. As the subs rolled in, the U.S.’s fluency dissipated, though in the 66th, a deep cross from Yedlin found Wood at the back post, but he couldn’t get his volley on target.

Chandler made a long run out of defense in the 71st, getting into the Ecuador box with the ball at his feet, before going down, but no foul was called.

Ecuador began to take advantage of the U.S. lack of coherence and started generating more dangerous chances. Still, as the game wound down, it appeared that the U.S. would get it’s 17th win in the last 18 home games. Ecuador had different ideas. First, Tim Ream was called upon to make a heroic, goal-saving block, only for moments later, in the 88th, Enner Valencia strode forward from midfield, unchallenged. Needing no second invitation, he let fly with a long-distance strike. The shot at first appeared to be no problem for Guzan, but it dipped and swerved ferociously, and wrong-footed the keeper for the tying goal.

The U.S. would have one final chance to win it all, in the 94th, when Wood found himself one-on-one inside the Ecuador box. Instead of shooting, however, he attempted a lame square ball for substitute Chris Wondolowski that was easily cleared.

The final whistle blew, and the entire stadium sat, underwhelmed by the finish to what had been an electric night in the first half.

U.S. verdict

Landon Donovan can still play: He may be retiring soon, and the game was only a friendly, but when Donovan was on the field, he looked the most likely of any player to make something happen. He’s 32, sure, but he’s also only 32. But Donovan does things his own way, always has, and he’s leaving on his own terms.

Veterans and semi-vets shine brightest: The least experienced players looked it, while the more experienced players looked good. Altidore and Diskerud looked especially good. Wood, for his part, could have scored twice or more, but failed. He’ll have more opportunities, and showed some good touches, but he’ll be regretting the chances he missed.

Gyau injured: Joe Gyau looked dangerous again, until he limped off and left the bench on crutches. With Borussia Dortmund’s injury crisis deep, he’s actually seen some time for the first team, and it would be a shame for a serious injury to take that chance away.

So yeah, it was a little awkward: This was Donovan’s last game, and parts of it went perfectly, but parts of it felt weird. He didn’t score or get an assist, his moment with Klinsmann was a little hard to watch, Ecuador equalized, and the game ended on a down note. One can’t help feeling his send-off should have happened several months ago, and in South America.

Final thoughts

What else is there to say? If you watched the ESPN broadcast of the game, you saw many, many highlights of Donovan’s career, Whatever you thought of him and his career decisions, Donovan has given U.S. Soccer more than perhaps any other individual in history. While other players will take up the symbolic mantle of American soccer, it will be a long time before anyone matches the contributions of Landon Donovan. Congratulations to him; he’ll be missed.

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 21-Timmy Chandler, 4-Michael Orozco (3-Omar Gonzalez, 62), 6-John Brooks (5-Tim Ream, 62), 14-Greg Garza; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 11-Alejandro Bedoya (19-Alfredo Morales, 62), 8-Mix Diskerud, 7-Joe Gyau (23-Bobby Wood, 22); 10-Landon Donovan (capt.) (15-Joe Corona, 41), 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Chris Wondolowski, 76)
Unused substitutions: 9-Miguel Ibarra, 20-Luis Gil, 22-Nick Rimando
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

ECU: 1-Maximo Banguera; 4-Juan Carlos Paredes (16-Mario Pineida, 90+3), 20-Luis Canga, 3-Frickson Erazo (19-Luis Fernando Leon, 86), 10-Walter Ayovi (capt.); 6-Cristhian Noboa, 14-Segundo Castillo (8-Carlos Gruezo, 86), 5-Renato Ibarra (18-Jonathan Gonzalez, 44), 11-Juan Cazares (17-Junior Sornoza, 85), 9-Cristian Penilla (7-Joao Plata, 46), 13-Enner Valencia
Unused substitutions: 2-Arturo Mina, 12-Hamilton Piedra, 15-Cristian Ramirez, 21-Johnny Uchuari, 22-Alexander Dominguez
Head Coach: Sixto Vizuete Toapanta

Scoring Summary
USA – Mix Diskerud (DeAndre Yedlin) — 5′
ECU – Enner Valencia (Cristhian Noboa) — 88′

Disciplinary Summary
USA – Michael Orozco (caution) — 32′
ECU – Frickson Erazo (caution) — 54′
USA – Joe Corona (caution) — 61′

Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 11 / 17
Shots on Goal: 4 / 7
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 9
Offside: 0 / 4

Officials
Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Williamson (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Keyzell Corrales (NCA)
4th Official: Ricardo Cerdas (CRC)

Attendance: 36,265

5 Comments

  1. Liking Diskerud in the middle. Seems to have ideas and looks to play through- a different player than Bradley. Jozy looked like a beast last night. I think TT nailed it- he just wants to play a stinking game. He’s hungry.
    .
    Definitely liking Garza. Unsure of Yedlin in midfield- see more of that I guess.
    .
    The blown chance in the 94nd minute, with Wood squaring the ball too late? You know that stuff bakes JK’s noodle. Those are the plays Germans make in their sleep and ultimately are what separates advancing to quarters from not advancing to quarters- particularly as it relates to the Semis Run in ’18 he intends to make.
    .

  2. How about Joe Gyau?! Strong and quick on the ball. Missed him sorely (Wood’s unscheduled debut was OK despite missing the chance to be a hero.) and let’s hope it’s not serious.

    • as David Byrne sings, he’s a real live-wire.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah a Gyau looks real good, a shame for the injury. I thought Yedlin was decent last night and Altidore looked good given his club situation.
      .
      I’d back the Brinks truck up to his house to make him come here. Just throwing that out there.

  3. It’s difficult to find knowledgeable people in this particular topic, however, you
    sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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