USA vs. Ecuador | Copa America Centenario Quarterfinal Match Preview
After a surprise run to the top of Group A, the US men's national team face a challenging opponent in front of what should be a raucous, supportive crowd in Seattle. The US lost to Colombia before rebounding to beat both Costa Rica and Paraguay, while Ecuador leveled Brazil (0-0) and Peru (2-2) before Sunday's 4-0 breakout against Haiti to seal their spot coming out of Group B.
A New Lineup
After Jurgen Klinsmann made the near-unprecedented move of rolling out the same squad for three straight games, right back DeAndre Yedlin went off and got sent off against Paraguay. The single-minute red means a new backline for the US, and potentially changes elsewhere ("If you're already tinkering, why not tinker some more?" Jose Pekerman asks, trudging to the Meadowlands.)
The most likely scenario? First defensive sub Michael Orozco slotting in on the right side. A just-for-fun alternative? Edgar Castillo jumping in on the left, with Fabian Johnson crossing over to play behind Gyasi Zardes and Clint Dempsey.
Yellow Means Caution
With a game remaining before the cards clear, the following US players are sitting on a yellow:
- D: Brooks, Johnson, Orozco
- MF: Bedoya, Bradley, Jones
- F: Wood
All three midfielders. Three of four defenders. That is … quite a few, and against a team with a speedy, relentless attack. If any pick up so much as a second yellow, and the US advance, that ensuing semifinal will feature fresh faces further still. There's room yet on that Nagbe/Pulisic bandwagon – Get on board!
Play the Game You're In
For both teams, the semifinal opponent looms large: the winner of this matchup plays the winner of (in all likelihood) Argentina and either Mexico or Venezuela. A US-Argentina matchup would be of massive interest, given that Lionel Messi is delivering as advertised, and a US-Mexico special is always fun for someone (except, perhaps the CONMEBOL squads ousted along the way).
But before they entertain thoughts of El Tri, the US must first knock off La Tri (Ecuador's nickname). The expected fan support should keep things rocking – unless Ecuador silences them with an early strike, which would lead to a a nervy duration for the home crowd.