USA 1, Ecuador 0 | 2019 International Friendly Match Recap – MLSsoccer.com

USA 1, Ecuador 0 | 2019 International Friendly Match Recap - MLSsoccer.com

United States vs. Ecuador – Football Match Report – March 21, 2019

The USA was the better side for 81 minutes of a friendly against Ecuador in Orlando, but they didnt have any goals to show for it until forward Gyasi Zardes stepped up and let fly on a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. The shot deflected off an Ecuadorean defender then beat Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez as the USMNT won 1-0.

The US controlled the run of play and held the ball much of the time in Ecuadors half of the field, but despite the crisp passing leading into the final third, clear-cut scoring chances were at a premium on the night.

Its now a perfect 3-for-3 for the USMNT under Berhalter after wins over Panama (3-0 on Jan. 27) and Costa Rica (2-0 on Feb. 2) which came only a few weeks following his appointment as US head coach on Dec. 2.

It was hard to take much from the United States mens national teams two friendlies earlier in the year as the players were all MLS based. But on Thursday in Orlando, new coach Gregg Berhalter had pretty much every player at his disposal to give fans a look at whats to come, the players that may feature in the Gold Cup and more. The U.S. beat Ecuador 1-0 on a Gyasi Zardes goal, but it wasnt all positive as the team could be without one of its key young players who came off injured. Here are three takeaways from the match.

Share Share USA 1 – 0 Ecuador: Gyasi Zardes gives the US a promising result tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports An Ecuador squad with players representing clubs in Europe, Latin America, and MLS took on the US Mens National Team in the first friendly for the Stars and Stripes with a full contingent of top choice players representing clubs in Europe, Latin America, and MLS available for Gregg Berhalter. Ultimately, the US would come away with a 1-0 win on the back of a late goal from Gyasi Zardes.

Bear that in mind when considering the roster, which includes 13 holdovers from Januarys camp (the number was originally 14, but Zack Steffen has withdrawn with a minor knock). A lot of those holdovers drew the ire of certain US fans on social media and in comments sections around the internet, and here is the reason: There is a zero percent chance that each and every one of those 13 holdovers are amongst the 23 best or most talented players in the current US pool. Some of them surely are, but many of them are not.

The US had a good start to the match keeping possession and pushing into the Ecuador defensive third – or at least were let in by a defensive minded Ecuador. Berhalters perhaps questionable decision to start Tyler Adams at right back, though pushing into central midfield and down the right flank, seemed to work out. Perhaps one of the main issues for the Stars and Stripes in the match was Tim Ream at left back. The position is a permanent problem with no obvious answer and Ream had a few early miscues leaving open space for Ecuador to exploit on a counter attack.

• One of the things to consider about the bullet point above is the defensive responsibility of the field stretcher, who will function more as an advanced wingback than a pure winger. Berhalter has said that DeAndre Yedlin – whos played mostly at wingback for Newcastle this year – is likely to be used at that spot, and while he hasnt said as much, I suspect thatll be Jordan Morriss residence as well. Corey Baird was the player of choice in January, and is back for these guys.

Armchair Analyst: Projected XI & the context of the US national team

Through the first half, Ecuador seemed content to defend and generally frustrate the US attacks. Former Panama coach Hernan Gomez had his team well prepared in the ways of Concacaf for a stout defensive effort in the first 45. Still, when the US was able to string together a few quick passes, they found space between the defenders of La Tri.

Even with nothing to show for it for most of the match, the U.S. was able to control the ball and the game against the South Americans. From the start, the hosts combined passes and unsettled Ecuador by pulling them from side to side, just as new boss Gregg Berhalter intended. And sure enough, potential scoring opportunities began to materialize before long. The best of them fell to left winger Paul Arriola in the 25th minute, but Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez made a strong, point-blank stop with his legs.

The best chance early for the US came when Trapp, McKennie, Zardes, and Pulisic played one touch until the soon to be Chelsea man backheeled a pass to the feet of Paul Arriola who slammed his shot into the feet of Ecuadorian keeper Alexander Dominguez.

On the other hand, the back four of Adams, Ream, John Brooks and Aaron Long was air tight. When the final whistle sounded, the U.S. hadnt conceded a single shot on goal. Our collective defense I thought was good, Berhalter said. We didnt really give them many openings. They couldnt find penetrating passes. They resorted to long balls, and those guys gobbled everything up.

Yes, that was Gyasi Zardes with a good touch (he had some bad ones too (and some good ones too), but its just a friendly).

Ecuador didnt exactly change their tactics in the second half, but the visitors seemed to notice that with Adams pushing forward and into the center of the field, there would be space where he would normally occupy as a typical right back. Luckily, Aaron Long and Weston McKennie provided cover on the occasions when La Tri could have had a scoring chance and aside from some tense moments, the US defense held strong.

Instead of giving you our player ratings, we want to know what you think. Below is a ratings form for you to fill out with ratings for each USMNT players performance. After a day/night of voting, well tabulate the ratings and reveal them with the top rated player being named Stars and Stripes FCs Man of the Match. Feel free to head down to the comment section and leave your thoughts on the match as a whole or give your detailed explanation of your ratings.

By the 70th minute, Berhalter brought Michael Bradley in for Wil Trapp, Sebastian Lletget in for Christian Pulisic, and DeAndre Yedlin in for Jordan Morris, and Christian Roldan taking over for McKennie who went down with a sprained left ankle. Following the subs, it took the Stars and Stripes a few minutes to settle back into the game.

And this is where we talk about continuity. There was actually quite a lot of turnover from the lineups in January camp to this one, with only 3 players who got playing time two months ago starting against Ecuador. Of the newcomers, one did essentially nothing (Johnson), two had stellar nights (Brooks and Adams) and the rest lacked consistency, sharpness, and end product. Its not easy to just throw a bunch of new players into a new way of playing. Thats why the USMNT has historically just trotted out some version of the 4-4-2; players already knew it and didnt have to learn a whole lot. Having players who know how to play in the system alongside players learning that system helps a lot, even when those players are not the ones who will be on the field in the biggest competitions. Having players who have more training in the system like Zardes and Arriola and Long out on the field, regardless of their individual talents, provides a source of constituency and helps new players, even superbly talented players like Pulisic and McKennie, learn what to expect on the field. Those other players from January camp that so many of you were upset about play into that as well. Lima, Lovitz, Baird, and Ramirez did not play. That does not mean that they are deadweight. It means that they probably were really useful in training to help get those guys you do want to see on the field up to speed on how all of this works.

US win over Ecuador showed players taking ideas on board – Berhalter

It didnt really matter though as Zardes put the USA ahead on a goal that can best be described as: Huh?

Ive already talked about how good Adams was in the recovery. But credit needs to go to the backline as well, particularly Aaron Long and John Brooks. Nothing got between the two of them. Whenever Ecuador threatened to break down the side, there was Long, matching those pacy wingers step-for-step. When Tim Ream screwed up at the end of the match, there was Brooks to shepherd the attacker until the defense could recover. Those two were always where they needed to be. And they also played on the front foot. The two center backs, though particularly Brooks, played out of the back reliably, consistently, accurately, and effectively. They were able to distribute the ball and diffuse pressure all game long. I talked a lot towards the end of the last cycle about how the lack of players to distribute the ball made Michael Bradley an easy and effective target to press, even as he sat deep in front of the backline. Well, if our center backs are distributing like this, thats far less of a viable strategy. If both your midfield and your center backs can ping the ball around the field, the opposing attackers are going to be running in circles, out of position, tying to chase the ball and implement a press. Its something that the USMNT sorely needs, and tonight showed how much promise the likes of Long and Brooks have in the program.

This goal has everything – poor goalkeeper positioning, a pretty well executed chip from Gyasinho, and an assist by Tim Ream. Id like to see Josh Sargent do that (no really, Id really like to see it). Another miscue at left back almost gave Ecuador an equalizer, but the US saw the game out to come away with the victory.

Overall, things looked promising for the USA. Not only did the team win 1-0 on a hilarious mistake by the opposing keeper, but the team had about two jet-lagged days to come together and learn exactly what Berhalter had in mind. That said, Ecuador may have been more obliging in letting the US keep the ball and try to break them down, but Chile should present a much tougher challenge for the team. While its just a friendly, it will also be the biggest challenge for the team under Berhalter in his early tenure as manager.

Tyler Adams (6.5) — Playing in Berhalters hybrid right back role for the first time, Adams covered a ton of ground. It wasnt always a great idea to roam so much and his teammates were called on to cover a few times when he got caught up. That said, the RB Leipzig youngster generally moved the ball forward and forced a few turnovers across midfield, which is precisely why he drew the quirky assignment.


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