The United States Men’s National Team kicked off their road to the 2019 Gold Cup in Orlando. They hosted Ecuador in an International Friendly. Former Red Bull Academy products Tim Ream and Tyler Adams, as well as current RBNY defender Aaron Long, comprised the majority of the back line. Matt Miazga was also available on the bench.
First Half Threats
The USMNT held onto possession for the majority of the match, 63% overall. The first real chance for the Yanks came in the 26th minute when Ream recovered a save from Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez. He could not, however, angle it back to the net. Gyasi Zardes was called offside at the thirty-minute mark as he just missed the cross that Paul Arriola buried. Ecuador countered moments later, but skied the ball over Sean Johnson. Indeed, Ecuador had to rely on only a handful of counterattacks in the first half.
Set Pieces and Breakthroughs
In the first half alone, the US had five corner kicks. The Americans tried to be dangerous on those set pieces, but the Ecuador defense was well-placed. In the second half, Los Amarillos took a larger attacking stance. They nearly outran Tyler Adams, who pushed up the right channel of the pitch at every opportunity. Veteran midfielder Michael Bradley entered just before the hour mark. He was followed by Sebastian Lleget, who came in for Christian Pulisic. Zardes scored in the 81st minute when his chipped ball dropped just behind Dominguez.
Highs and Lows
Aaron Long: The captain of Camp Cupcake, the US enjoyed two solid wins at the start of 2019. His shift at centerback was more of what fans have come to expect from him. Going the full 90 minutes, Long started plays and covered the back line, allowing Adams to push higher.
Christian Pulisic: There were several shining moments for the Dortmund midfielder. While the lone goal of the match occurred after his exit, he was making things happen in the attacking third.
Jordan Morris: The Seattle homegrown has made a solid comeback in MLS but could not translate it to success in the International Friendly. He was often a half step behind, and was chastised for ball watching on Ecuador’s attacks.
Weston McKennie: His ankle injury looked bad in real time and worse in slow motion. The Schalke midfielder could be valuable during the Gold Cup, but his Bundesliga side needs him sooner than that.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography