The South Americans have the advantage
The USMNT will be facing Ecuador for the 13th time on Wednesday. The Ecuadorians have won five of those matches. The South Americans overall record against the U.S. is 5-5-2 (W-D-L) and they have a positive four-goal differential.
All but one of the 12 matches has been played in the United States. The very first match against Ecuador came on November 30th, 1984. That first match ended in a scoreless draw. However, it would take the Yanks eight more games in a span of 18 years to beat Ecuador for the first time. The United States just got by Ecuador 1-0 due to a first half goal from Eddie Lewis on March 10th, 2002 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
In the last five matches against the South American nation, the United States has been able to pick up some results. They have gone 2-2-1 and have a positive two-goal differential. That record is better than the first seven matches against Ecuador, where the U.S. failed to win a match. The Americans record was 0-3-3 and they had a disappointing negative six goal differential.
In fact, before the 1-0 victory in 2002, the United States had not scored against Ecuador since a 2-2 draw in 1984. The U.S. will be looking to pick up their first victory against the South American nation since their commanding 3-1 win in 2007. Landon Donovan led the United States in that game with a hat-trick performance at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.
How the USA can earn their third victory
U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have to quickly move on from the 3-1 friendly victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday. This match against Ecuador is more of a realistic test of what they will see in the Copa America Centenario. With Klinsmann only having one more match after this game before the opener on June third against Colombia at Levi's Stadium, the former German international will most likely start the strongest squad possible.
It is publicly known that results tend to not matter in friendly matches. However, with the start of the tournament so close, a defeat will raise some flags. That being said, Klinsmann will need Bobby Wood to continue his goal scoring form on Wednesday. For the United States to have any chance of picking up a result against Ecuador, Wood will need to convert the chances he gets.
Ecuador are currently second in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifiers with a positive five-goal differential. Their defense at times is vulnerable as they have conceded seven goals in six matches. That means if Wood or Clint Dempsey is able to score first, then the Ecuadorians defense will open up to counter-attacks, since Ecuador will search for the tying goal.
Another key task for the United States to complete on Wednesday is to earn a positive result against the South American nation is for the defense to stand their ground. Yes, the midfield needs to also put in a solid shift to slow down the Ecuadorian attack, but the defense needs a shutout to gain some confidence.
In the last 17 matches, the United States has only earned five clean sheets. The toughest opponent that they kept a clean sheet was against Trinidad and Tobago in a scoreless draw for World Cup Qualifying road match in November. The other four countries that were kept off the scoreboard were: Canada, Haiti, Cuba and Guatemala.
It is important that the defense begins to build some stability and rhythm since the last South American nation they left scoreless was Venezuela in 2012. The Americans have yet to record a shutout against Chile or Uruguay, the U.S. has faced both countries more than five times. It is not secret that the United States struggle against CONMEBOL countries so the defense recovery phase needs to begin against Ecuador.
The road to victory for Ecuador
Their route is simple pressure the shaky defense and score early. After scoring, Ecuador needs to control possession and force the U.S. to chase after them. By doing so, the United States will be forced to solely rely on the counter-attack and long balls.
With players like Enner Valencia and Jefferson Montero available for Ecuador, the United States defense will have a lot of problems attempting to contain them. Ecuador, at the moment, is tied with Uruguay and Chile for the most goals scored in the South American qualifications with 12 in six games. So if they catch the United States defense napping, they will make them pay and it will turn into a long night for Klinsmann and company.