USMNT

Copa America preview: USMNT v Ecuador

While optimists thought, prior to the tournament, that the US would get out of the group, few thought the US would top the group, or that the tournament landscape would look like this. Let’s run down how it all played out:

  1. US loses limply to Colombia, 2–0
  2. US rips Costa Rica a new one, winning 4–0
  3. US grits out a 1–0 win over Paraguay to qualify for the next round, but loses DeAndre Yedlin to a stupid ejection
  4. Costa Rica upends a disinterested-looking Colombia, giving top spot in the group to the US
  5. Everyone celebrates avoiding presumptive second-place opponent Brazil
  6. Brazil craps the bed and loses to Peru anyway, meaning the US now faces arguably the stronger opponent, Ecuador, while Colombia gets Peru

You get all that? It’s hard to know how to feel, exactly, considering Brazil isn’t around anymore, but in the end, it’s a good series of events for the US. Winning and topping the group are important mental boosts, regardless of what happened in other groups. The US beat Ecuador just weeks ago, too, so should feel confident they will do it again, but lets look at how Ecuador’s tournament has gone.

Ecuador

Brazil 0–0 Ecuador: Ecuador’s first game came against the pre-tournament favorites, Brazil. As we now know, this Brazil team, lacking marquee players like Neymar and David Luiz (don’t laugh), was underwhelming in the extreme. This game was fairly exciting in the middle third, but neither team produced much. Ecuador had a goal disallowed, which on replay should have been allowed and might have changed the tenor of this group from the start.

Ecuador 2–2 Peru: This was evidently a very good game all around. Peru went up two before Ecuador pulled one back before halftime, then equalized in the second half. Ecuador was the better team in the second, but Peru nearly won it late on.

Ecuador 4–0 Haiti: Poor Haiti. This was a tough tournament for them. And unfortunately, this game got Ecuador into a very good head space. They looked good, front to back in what was a dominant win.

Enner Valencia has two goals and two assists through three games, and is definitely the danger man at this point. He did very little against the US when they met in the friendly of a few weeks ago, but will be looking to pick on Michael Orozco at right back.

US defense gelling

The US defense has really gelled in the last few games, and will feel good about themselves, even though they will miss Yedlin. The key is the Geoff Cameron–John Brooks partnership in central defense. Brooks, especially, has seemed to step up a level in his play, bringing the quality he has shown for his club team to the national team, possibly for the first time. Instead of a giant bundle of potential, he’s put himself on display in the best possible way, and with the calm and tidy Cameron beside him, the US has looked very secure.

Helping them look good, of course, has been Michael Bradley sitting in front. Bradley, finally playing as a true No. 6, has shown his incredible engine, allied with his excellent passing range, and just locked down the middle of the park. He’ll be asked to do a lot, considering the speed on the wing for Ecuador, but he’s up to it.

Predictions

Playing in front of what will hopefully be a raucous and partisan Seattle crowd, the US should be favored. That said, Ecuador looks like a different side from the one the US saw recently, and will be much more engaged, and I think they score at least once. That said, the US is a different animal, too, and have enough to get more than Ecuador do. So, with a relatively unchanged lineup (barring the switch at right back, and perhaps one change in the attack), the US wins: USA 2–1 Ecuador.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve seen a room full of potential starting XI changes to offset
    Yedlin’s foul-up. The only one I haven’t seen is Jones to right back and Pulicic or Nagbe in midfield.I would actually favor both in, with Zardes sitting also.

  2. I guessing that JK will go like for like with Orozco in at RB but keep everything else the same. I would be tempted to bring on Castillo and move Johnson to RB since it would give the US more going forward as well as get more speed on the wings but I can understand not wanting to have too many moving pieces coming off two wins. Ecuador is dangerous up the flanks so I think he’ll also stay with the 4-4-2 instead of the 4-3-3 look.
    .
    I’m a little concerned about the fitness of staying with the same lineup since Bedoya has worked his tail off and Jones has been all over the field. Cannot be concerned with the yellow card suspension possibilities for the next round – need to get there first.

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