USA survives, defeats Ecuador to advance to Copa Semis

SEATTLE — A 65th minute goal by Gyasi Zardes was the crucial goal that earned the U.S. the 2-1 victory over Ecuador to advance to the Copa America Centenario Semifinals where they’ll face the winner of the Argentina-Venezuela game.

The U.S. got on the board in the 27th minute when Bobby Wood laid the ball back to Jermaine Jones whose cross to the second post found Clint Dempsey.

In the second half Zardes won a ball inside the box which fell at the feet of Dempsey who placed it to the far post where Zardes  simply had to tap the ball into the net.

Ten minutes after, Ecuador cut the U.S. in a drawn play in a set piece Michael Arroyo took a shot on the edge of the box that beat Brad Guzan but it wasn’t enough to force the send the game into penalties.

Here are the keys to the game:

Defense

During the first half the U.S. like in big part of the tournament played a good game defensively primarily due to John Brooks who always seemed to find himself in position to break up plays.

The second half was differently, Ecuador was able to generate more chances from the flanks, but despite the increasing pressure Ecuador put the U.S. ream in Brooks still remained one of the best in the team.

Missed Chances

Despite the win, the U.S. suffered a lot more than they would’ve hoped for, especially in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Ecuador had the chances to win the game but their lack of efficiency which had been an issue in the tournament made them pay for it.

In the 18th minute Geoff Cameron failed to clear the ball which fell into the path of Arroyo who hit a powerful shot that went wide off the goal

In the final play of the first half Michael Bradley played the back back putting his defense in peril Arroyo stole the ball and found space but a shot down the middle found Guzan.

In the 48th minute on a set piece Enner Valencia squandered what should’ve been the equalizer after he failed to head the ball into the goal.

Ecuador looked the most dangerous after they scored the first goal. Just two minutes after Arroyo’s goal Enner Valencia made a run into the first post and was all alone but his header went off the mark. One minute later Valencia again failed to get his header into Guzan’s goal. Two minutes later Walter Ayovi took a shot from distance the just sailed high off the crossbar.

In injury time Ecuador generated one more chance, a cross into the box hit Brooks and miraculously the ball passed just wide of the post for a corner.

Questionable Decision

With a 2-0 lead manager Jurgen Klinsmann wanted to get a second defensive midfielder into the game to help manage the lead for the last 15 minutes of the game. The problem was that just before the substitution could’ve been made Ecuador cut the lead in half and Klinsmann still went ahead and took one of the best players of the team in Clint Dempsey which ensued in a flurry of chances that the Ecuadorian team squandered.

Suspensions

After completing his one game suspension right back DeAndre Yedlin will be back with the team for the semifinal, however the U.S. will have three players suspended for that stage.

After a frustrated Luis Valencia harsh challenge on Alejandro Bedoya which earned him a second yellow, Jermaine Jones faced off Arroyo and grazed his face with his knuckles which got him a deserved straight red. The other two players that won’t be available for the U.S. are forward Bobby Wood and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya who accumulated a second yellow card in the course of the tournament.

The good news for the U.S. is that the team will have an additional 48 hours of rest than their rival which will come out of the game between Argentina and Venezuela. The first semifinal game will take place on June 21  at the NRG Stadium in Houston.

 

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