Well, it may not have been the prettiest game, but Jurgen Klinsmann got the monkey off his back with a 1-0 win over Honduras on Saturday evening. Now, the Yanks look to keep their win streak going against a hot Ecuador side that won their first CONMEBOL qualifying game 2-0 and won three summer friendlies by a score of 11-2.
There is no doubt that Klinsmann must thrive with the fans’ new-found confidence and produce another positive result on Tuesday night. How can he do that? I’ve got you covered with this preview of the enticing matchup.
Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Star Players: Christian Benitez, Antonio Valencia, Jaime Ayovi
2-0 Win over Venezuela (CONMEBOL Qualifying)
5-2 Win over Jamaica (International Friendly)
2-0 Win over Costa Rica (International Friendly)
Although Ecuador might not be the cream of the crop in CONMEBOL, the US cannot afford to overlook this attacker-infested team. Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia seems to be fully recovered from his ankle injury that kept him out most of last season and striker Christian Benitez is finding his form for Club America. Simply put, Ecuador has the offensive weapons to keep up with the USMNT.
What Ecuador Needs to Do to Win- With Klinsmann’s back line still struggling to play together as a unit, Ecuador must be willing to throw plenty of players forward at the risk of getting exposed at the back. In simpler words, Ecuador might not have the defense to contain the likes of Altidore and Dempsey, but if La Tri can fight fire with fire, Reinaldo Rueda and company might have a chance to spoil the USMNT’s New York showing.
The two matchups that Ecuador must take advantage of are Valencia vs. Chandler on the left wing, and Benitez vs. Ream/Onyewu/Orozco up the middle. If Ecuador works these areas with great determination, the US is bound to concede a goal at some point in the night. After all, Howard is no superman.
Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
Star Players: Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard
1-0 Win over Honduras
1-0 Loss to Belgium
1-0 Loss to Costa Rica
The USMNT comes into this game with a completely different attitude than the one they were expressing prior to Saturday night. With the pressure off Klinsmann’s shoulders, expect a more ambitious approach in some areas of the game, as this friendly can now be looked at as strictly developmental thanks to Saturday’s win. Whether Klinsmann decides to finally unleash the 4-3-3 or feature his younger, more-flashy strikers (Agudelo, Bunbury), the overall flow that the USMNT produces should feel different than in past games.
What the US Needs to Do to Win-
Shea’s size and physical presence are going to be incredible advantages in the attacking third for the Yanks on Tuesday night. The 6’3" athletic American monster could quite possibly have his best game in a USMNT uniform yet as he faces an Ecuadorian defense that is tiny in comparison. Ecuador features no starting defender over 5’10", hinting that the dominating figures of Dempsey, Altidore and Shea might physically abuse an already mediocre defense.
So what should the US do to win? Go hard for 50-50’s, fight for lose balls and beat down Ecuador physically in order to put up points on the scoreboard.
Although Ecuador is still far from being labeled a powerhouse of the Americas, this game will be closer than most may think. This is the same Ecuador team that recently beat Costa Rica 2-0 (USMNT lost to CR 1-0 last month) and destroyed Jamaica 5-2 earlier in the summer (USMNT only beat Jamaica 2-0 in June).
In fact, if the USMNT wasn’t playing on its home soil, the Ecuadorians would most likely be labeled the favorite in this anticipated friendly between two developing sides. But considering the USMNT almost always puts forth a good showing in the Metropolitan area, fans should feel pretty confident heading into Tuesday night.
Although the immaturity of the unstable USMNT defense is bound to give up one goal to the Ecuadorian attackers, the physical presence of Shea, Dempsey and Altidore should be able to give the US a two-goal lead that not even the errant passes of Tim Ream can blow. Howard will come up big on multiple occasions, but the real star of the night will be Jurgen Klinsmann as he gives the US its first win streak since the Bradley era.
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