Copa America 2015 Team Guide: Ecuador
Our Copa America preview week continues with a look at Ecuador, specifically their key players, their poor recent run in the tournament and more.
The 2015 Copa America takes places in Chile and starts on June 11, with 12 teams taking part: 10 from the CONMEBOL and two invited CONCACAF sides, Mexico and Jamaica.
You can catch up on the other squads already covered here:
Ecuador finally confirmed their whittled-down 23-man squad on June 1, the deadline, with Gustavo Quinteros cutting the likes of goalkeeper Maximo Banguera and midfielder Angel Mena from his list. Antonio Valencia and Felipe Caicedo missed out through injury. Yahoo Sports listed the players who will compete.
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito), Esteban Dreer (Emelec), Librado Azcona (Independiente del Valle)
Defenders: Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Frickson Erazo (Gremio), Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Oscar Bagui (Emelec), Jhon Narvaez (Emelec), Walter Ayovi (Pachuca), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Mario Pineida (Independiente del Valle)
Midfielders: Christian Noboa (PAOK), Renato Ibarra (Vitesse Arnhem), Osbaldo Lastra (Emelec), Fidel Martinez (UNAM), Jonathan Gonzalez (Leones Negros), Michael Arroyo (America), Juan Cazares (Banfield), Pedro Quinonez (Emelec)
Gustavo Quinteros has only been in charge of Ecuador’s national side since January, with narrow defeats to Mexico and Argentina his results in friendly games so far.
Until now, he has exclusively managed in South America, with most of his career spent in Bolivia, the nation he represented as a player, though he was born in Argentina. At the club level, however, his most recent posting was with Emelec in Ecuador, where he won the Serie A twice in 2013 and 2014.
In the game against Argentina, Ecuador showed some exciting glimpses of attacking intent—but also some concerning defensive issues. The new boss has named three uncapped players in his Copa America squad, including two goalkeepers, and a total of nine of his 23 have three caps or less each, hinting at a new age for Ecuadorian football.
Star Man: Jefferson Montero
With no Antonio Valencia in the squad, the threat and thrust of this Ecuador team must come from wide attacker Jefferson Montero.
Blistering pace, great footwork and a good cross are his three most notable traits—but Montero still fails to show them with enough consistency.
When he’s on his game he can be unstoppable in spells, providing plenty of ammunition for the forward line, which will be led by the aerially proficient Enner Valencia. The two should link up effectively and give Ecuador a big counter-attacking threat, but there will be a lot of pressure on Montero to deliver.
If he thrives, they have a great chance of making it out of the group. If not, it’s tough to see where the final-third quality might come from.
One to Watch: Miller Bolanos
Miller Bolanos is a potential source of goals and possibly an unknown quantity for European-based watchers of the Copa. He only made his debut for Ecuador earlier this year but netted against Argentina in his second cap, with his goals for Emelec in the league and Copa Sudamericana over the past two years winning him a place in this tournament’s squad.
Playing up top or just off the No. 9, Bolanos is averaging two goals every three games this year, and the 25-year old could have a big impact, even if it's off the bench, should Quinteros make the most of his obvious confidence at present.
Bolanos spent just over a year in MLS with Chivas USA in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, spending the rest of his career so far in his home nation.
Ecuador have not enjoyed great success in the Copa America, only twice finishing inside the top four or reaching the semi-finals. Their recent record, for a nation who has reached the World Cup finals three out of the last four occasions, is particularly poor.
Last four: twice
Most recent finishes:
2011: Group stage
2007: Group stage
2004: Group stage
2001: Group stage
1999: Group stage
11 June, 8:30 p.m. CLT, Estadio Nacional, Santiago
Chile vs. Ecuador
15 June, 6 p.m. CLT, Estadio Elias Figueroa, Valparaiso
Ecuador vs. Bolivia
19 June, 6 p.m. CLT, Estadio El Teniente, Rancagua
Mexico vs. Ecuador