U.S. Tops Ecuador, Heads To Copa Semi-Finals

Photo via U.S. Soccer
Photo via U.S. Soccer
Photo via U.S. Soccer

In the two United States group stage wins during the 2016 Copa America Centenario, there have been common themes that helped lead the club to the quarter-finals.

Clint Dempsey’s offense, John Brooks portraying a brick wall on defense and Brad Guzan turning away shots at key moments.

Those trends continued on Thursday at Century Link Field in Seattle as the U.S. defeated Ecuador 2-1 in a wild match that ended with each team playing a man down.

Dempsey gave the U.S. a lead it would not relinquish with a header in the 22nd minute off a feed from Jermaine Jones. After weathering consistent pressure during the first 15 minutes of the second half, the U.S. would extend its lead to 2-0 with Dempsey again involved.

With Bobby Wood driving the ball forward, a subsequent cross into the box would find Gyasi Zardes, who would head the ball back to Dempsey. Fighting off an Ecuadorian defender, Deuce gained control and found Zardes alone along the back post for an easy tap-in at the 65th minute.

Nine minutes late, Ecuador would cut the lead to one with a goal from Michael Arroyo.

Defensively, the United States was again strong with the backline anchored by Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Guzan was also solid between the wood-work, making several key saves to keep Ecuador off the board.

The U.S. will next play in the semi-finals Tuesday in Houston against the winner of the Argentina/Venezuela match. U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have some lineup decisions to make. Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya will each be out as the result of yellow-card accumulation. Jones, who received a straight red card in the 52nd minute along with Antonio Valencia, will also miss the semi-finals.

The good news is that DeAndre Yedlin returns from sitting out a one-game suspension after receiving a red card against Paraguay.