It is just a few weeks since USA defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a pre-tournament fixture, however this time there is a lot more on the line. Namely a semi-final spot in this years Copa America – facing either Argentina or Venezuela!
We will look at 3 talking points in the lead up to the game;
US Fullback Conundrum
With DeAndre Yedlin’s suspension for his Red Card in the previous game, Klinsmann faces a huge problem trying to fill the void created by his absence. With no obvious replacement and an Ecuadorean attack that is highly potent on the flanks the US will certainly miss the pace of Yedlin.
Given the strong central defensive pairing of Brooks and Cameron, it would be unwise to break them up by moving Cameron into the right fullback position. Moving down the line, you have the option to move Johnson to the right side and placing Castillo on the left side, but again this results in more disruption for a defensive unit that has not let a goal in since the first game in the tournament.
Orozco is the likely replacement, however he doesn’t possess the pace needed to deal with the speed of the Ecuadorean forwards and will definitely need midfield protection in front and cover behind.
Klinsmann has fielded the same lineup for all 3 group games and has gained more success with the 1-4-4-2 formation. Playing Wood alongside Dempsey in a more central attacking position is likely to yield more success. This will obviously depend on the effectiveness of the central midfield pairing of Bradley and Jones to cycle the ball to advanced positions, with Jones providing support in the second wave attack.
There is no doubting the magnitude of the game, it is therefore imperative that the US team is not intimidated by occasion. The team has a fantastic opportunity to advance to the Semi-Finals but they go into the game with 7 players on a yellow card, so if any of the 7 receive a yellow card they will be suspended for the Semi-Final should the US advance.
The crowd and the nation are behind the US and it is sure to be a lively atmosphere in Seattle with the majority of support cheering the US on. It is important that the team rises to the challenge and continues to build on the success that has lead to them topping Group A.