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USA vs Ecuador: This is the not the match up you’re looking for

While everyone was out celebrating that the United States won Copa America’s Group A, Ecuador was showing Haiti what it’s like to play soccer at warp speed and Peru was ushering Brazil back onto their charter just in time to do a little pre-Olympics Zika prep. In the unluckiest of twists, the USMNT was “rewarded” with playing Group B runner-up Ecuador, a team that was undoubtedly the best side despite the final results in group play and might just be the second most dangerous squad after Argentina.

So what does this mean for the United States? Most likely an early exit so they, too, can prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Brazi —

Oh, right. They didn’t qualify.


Well, then, let’s have a look at what they will need to do against an Ecuadorian side that plays like a kid that never took his finger off the turbo button in FIFA ’95 for Sega Genesis.

1. DeAndre Yedlin has to have a big game.


1. Edgar Castillo has to have a big game.

With Yedlin collecting yellows on Saturday like it was a carnival competition, the US now faces the fastest team in the tournament without their fastest player. Klinsmann’s replacement options are limited, but Yedlin’s suspension was a terrible blow the team’s chances regardless.
Orozco and Castillo are the remaining defenders that could reasonably be asked to play outside back (though don’t put it past Klinsmann to try Zardes there), and neither has the pace to deal with Valencia (either; pick one), Montero, who is the wing threat on the left side, or Ayovi (either; pick one).

Castillo probably gets the nod on the left with Fabian Johnson heading to the right, and the US will pray to the soccer gods that their new-found center back pairing of Cameron and Brooks can hold the same line for 90 minutes. Because this is what will happen if they can’t.

2. Jermaine Jones has to be 10 years younger.

Antonio Valencia is so fast (and skilled) that one of the biggest clubs in the world decided to play him out of position at right back. Ecuador, however, deploys him in the middle of the field clustered with all their other track stars, and it creates havoc for teams that try to possess the ball.

Just ask Brazil, who struggled to get anything going in the opener against Ecuador and absolutely lost in the alternate dimension where referees play out-of-bounds rules by the book.

Jermaine Jones is going to be in hell for whatever portion of this game Klinsmann can justify keeping him on the field. Michael Bradley is definitely not the quickest, but his positioning is generally impeccable, and Bedoya at least has the engine to track on defense.

Jones loves to get into big tackles, but without the quickness to keep up, there’s a decent chance that he picks up an early yellow and becomes a liability. MLS darling Nagbe (see what I did there?) could have an impact on this game if he gets the chance, though experience counts in big games and he is lacking in that department.

3. The USMNT has to create attacking chances.

This sounds like the kind of thing Wynalda would try to pass off as analysis on the Champion’s League half time show, but it’s going to be critical if the US hope to have any chance of defending such a potent attack. They have to get forward in sustained attack in order to keep players like Montero from becoming permanent extra attackers.

Zardes and Wood will need to get up the line with the wing backs in support. This will force Ecuador to remain honest in defense, as opposed to regaining possession and quickly striking forward repeatedly with players already leaking out in attack.

The much-maligned US performance against Colombia was, in actuality, something closer to a stalemate. Colombia has an extremely talented pair of wingers, which forced Johnson and Yedlin to stay home on defense more than Klinsmann would have liked. Ecuador has even more pace, and without Yedlin, the US might be facing an extended barrage in their own half.

The quarterfinal might be the right time to take Pulisic out of the box. Like Nagbe, he is lacking in big game experience on the international stage, but all hipster jokes aside, there’s a world of difference between Dortmund and Portland. The US are going to need a spark to keep this game competitive, and it will take a whole lot more than Klinsmann’s optimism to see them through to the next round. type/left

About Author Mohamed Abu 'l-Gharaniq

when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries.


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