USMNT Wins Group, To Face Ecuador
In a stunning turn of events, the U.S. Men's National Team won their group in the Copa America after Colombia faltered against Costa Rica. The U.S now set their sights on getting to the Copa America semifinals by beating Ecuador in the first knockout stage of the tournament.
Ecuador beat Haiti to clinch their spot in the next round as Group B favorite, Brazil, was ousted in surprising fashion by Peru, who won the group.
So how do the USMNT match up against Ecuador?
The U. S. will be without a very key player on Thursday night as Deandre Yedlin will be suspended for a match as he accumulated a pair of yellow cards in the team's 1-0 win over Paraguay. Michael Orozco will likely be the replacement for Yedlin, who is eligible to return to the team should they advance. There will undoubtedly be more pressure put on Michael Bradley, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron to play a near perfect game on defense in front of goaltender Brad Guzan. Brooks has been one of the best players for the U.S. in the tournament thus far as his clearing of the ball in the U.S. zone has been stellar.
However, the matchup against Ecuador favors the U.S. As long as the U.S. can get back and defend the attack of Ecuador, who likes to spread out the defense, the U.S. should get a number of counter opportunities for Clint Dempsey and Bobby Wood. Ecuador isn't as disciplined a team as Colombia, who the U.S. lost to in their first Copa game 2-0. If the U.S. play flawless defense as they did against Paraguay and should they take advantage of the counter opportunities that should be presented to them, the U.S. should be able to take care of Ecuador and advance.
The fact that the game is played in Seattle also helps the U.S. as well. They will have a home crowd, no doubt about it, as Seattle is essentially the U.S. soccer capitol at the moment.
The U.S. now has a chance to reach the Copa America semifinals for the first time since 1995. Should they win, they will face the winner of Peru vs. Colombia.