Preview: USMNT Faces Ecuador in Copa America Quarterfinals

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Deny Gallagher

It is win or go home for the United States Men’s National Team against Ecuador in the quarterfinal of the Copa America Centenario.

The Stars and Stripes will look to get the better of the South American side for the second time in three weeks when the two meet in Seattle on Thursday.

KNOW THE ENEMY: ECUADOR

Make no mistake about it: this Ecuador team is much better than the side that Jurgen Klinsmann and company saw last time out.

Expect a heavy dose of Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia with Walter Ayoví playing as the target man this time around. In the Ecuador’s 4-0 thrashing of Haiti, manager Gustavo Quinteros played Ayoví as the lone marksmen with Enner Valencia, Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero in the attacking midfield.

The aforementioned Ecuadorian attack will be the biggest concern for the United States Men’s National Team, especially with the absence of DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Unlike Klinsmann, Quinteros has not stuck to a consistent XI through the group stage. It appears, however, that the manager sorted out his attacked in the last match. The communication and understanding between Brad Guzan and John Brooks will be an X-factor in keeping their dangerous attack at bay.

On The Home Front

For the Americans, the conversation starts and ends with who will replace DeAndre Yedlin at right back. Michael Orozco appears to be the odds-on-favorite to get the starting nod. The Club Tijuana man performed admirably in his 40-minute cameo against Paraguay. In this upcoming fixture against Ecuador, Orozco is tasked with keeping up with left midfielder Jefferson Montero of Swansea City. This could prove to be a significant challenge for Orozco, as he lacks Yedlin’s pace. It would not be surprising to see Geoff Cameron move out to the right, while a player like Steve Birnbaum could get the start at center back. Breaking up the Cameron-Brooks tandem could do more harm than good, but it may be a risk that Klinsmann is forced to take given the state of the American defense.

Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3) GUZAN; OROZCO, BROOKS, CAMERON, JOHNSON; BEDOYA, BRADLEY, JONES; ZARDES, DEMPSEY, WOOD