USA 2 Ecuador 1 - Americans advance to Copa America semifinals

Published Thursday, June 16, 2016 11:12 PM by Shane Barrow
USA 2 Ecuador 1 - Americans advance to Copa America semifinals

What a night in Seattle for Jurgen Klinsmann and the US Mens National Team as they slipped past Ecuador in a quarterfinal match at the Copa America Centenario.  Can I say we need to play more matches in Seattle?  Great crowd support lifting the boys all night long.

The US came out on the opening foot bossing possession and pushing the visitors into their own half.  The boys were stringing togethre passes and looking quite comfortable as Ecuador searched for a way into the match.  The US would get their just reward in the 22nd minute as a Jermaine Jones cross found the rising Clint Dempsey who headed home past a helpless Alexander Dominguez.  A really nice goal to put the US into a deserved lead.

The team relaxed a bit after though as Ecuador slowly began to fight back.  The Americans dropped deeper the final fifteen minutes of the half allowing the South Americans to get some confidence. Ecuador almost found the equalizer at the death of the opening half as Arroyo raced in on goal.  Brad Guzan was up to the task as he turned the shot out for a corner.  1-0 USA at the break.

The complexion of the match would change in the 52nd minute.  After Bedoya won a 50/50 battle with Antonio Valencia the Ecuador winger kicked out at Bedoya cheaply sending him to the turf.  Several players converged after the cheap shot with Jermaine Jones putting his hand into the face of an Ecuador player.  The referee showed a second yellow to Valencia and a straight red to Jones.  Both teams down to ten men for the final 40 minutes.

Question marks all around as the extra space looked to favor the speedy wingers from Ecuador.  It would be the Americans that struck next though.  The tireless Bobby Wood once again got in behind the defense where he sent a ball to the back post.  Gyasi Zardes battled a 50/50 header and the ball looped to Clint Dempsey who pounced. He strongly pushed into the six yard box where he fought off a defender rolling a ball to the backpost that might or might not have gone in.  Zardes left no doubt though as he poked home while Ecuador protested for offside in vain. 2-0 USA.

The match was far from over though.  Only a minute later Bobby Wood saw a yellow that will keep him out of the semifinal as well.  Things were devolving quickly and the US needed to get their composure back.  It was one way traffic as the US legs were tiring.  Bedoya was beaten out of the right corner and he was forced to take a professional foul to keep the play out of the penalty area. It cost him a yellow card and also would cost the Americans a goal on the ensuing set piece. With all ten US players deep in their own area, Ecuador played the free kick on the ground to the top of the area where Michael Arroyo lashed past a sprawling Brad Guzan.  Game on at 2-1.

Ecuador were throwing everything they had at the bunkering Americans as Klinsmann introduced Kyle Beckerman into the game.  Enner Valencia had a pair of golden opportunities to tie the match as he found space between the American centerbacks.  Both headers were not good enough though and Ecuador were slipping to defeat.  One final sigh of relief came after a cross was nearly turned into the US net by John Brooks.  Luckily his deflection sailed inches wide.  Celebrations all around as the final whistle sounded the US win. A typical gritty American victory as they advance to the Copa America semifinal for the first time since 1995.

Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood and Bedoya all will be suspened for the coming Tuesday semifinal in Houston.  Huge losses as all three have started every match so far in the Copa America.  DeAndre Yedlin will return from suspension, but the US will need players like Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman and the reserves to step up in a big way.