USMNT Beat Ecuador, But At A Cost
The U.S. Men's National Team beat Ecuador 2-1 last night in the quarterfinals of the Copa America to advance to their first tournament semifinal since 1995.
Clint Dempsey once again got the scoring going as he connected on a header off a cross from Jermaine Jones in the 22nd minute. Dempsey then was a main catalyst again on the attack in the 65th minute as Bobby Wood kept the ball alive and connected with Dempsey who edged one past the goaltender as Gyasi Zardes knocked it in at the goal line to put the U.S. up 2-0 at that point.
Ecuador scored in the 74th minute off a set piece in which Michael Arroyo went unmarked and planted one in the back of the net. That was the first goal the U.S. gave up since late in the first half of their first Copa America group stage game against Colombia.
The win, though, came at a price. Jones was red carded in the 52nd minute after a confrontation with Ecuador's Antonio Valencia, who was also sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the match on a hard tackle into Alejandro Bedoya. Bedoya and stellar attacker, Wood, also received yellow card's, each their second of the tournament. Jones, Bedoya, and Wood will all miss the semifinal match. A huge blow to the U.S.
The U.S. does have a deep bench, but the loss of these three players is monumental. Wood is developing into one of the better weapons the U.S. has had in a while and his ability to get behind the oppositions defense is something the American's will have to make up for. His absence will put more pressure on Dempsey to score in their next match as well. Jones, the emotional leader of this team will leave a gaping hole in the midfield, as will Bedoya.
Deandre Yedlin will return for the U.S. in their next match after missing this game due to picking up a pair of Yellow card's against Paraguay last week. Matt Besler subbed in place of Yedlin and played rather well in his place. Who will fill in the hole's left by Wood, Jones, and Bedoya is yet to be seen. My expectation is that it will be Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, and Michael Orozco, but Jurgen Klinsmann is known to make surprising changes in his starting lineup from time to time.
The U.S. will play the winner of Argentina/Venezuela which takes place on Saturday night.