For only the third time in 21 matches, the United States defeated a country from South America. At Toyota Stadium in Dallas, Texas, the USA knocked off Ecuador 1-0. Darlington Nagbe scored his first international goal late in the match.
Ecuador dominates opening stanza
In the first minute of the match, John Anthony Brooks gave the ball away in a dangerous area. Enner Valencia got on the end of it inside the 18-yard-box. However, the West Ham United forward could not get a clean shot away as the ball trickled into the arms of Brad Guzan. There were more defensive lapses. In the early goings with Steve Birnbaum whiffed on a clearance, but settled down as the match wore on. Jefferson Montero sent in a dangerous cross after gaining possession once more. The delivery deflected off a USMNT defender, but Brad Guzan was quick to react to make a good save.
John Brooks has had a stellar season with Hertha Berlin, improving by leaps and bounds. That work in the Bundesliga paid off in the 14th minute. Miller Bolaños slipped through Valencia. Brooks made an inch-perfect last ditch tackle to conceding only a corner.
Ecuador kept causing problems for the US’ backline, but the final ball kept lacking. In the 29th minute, Montero looked to square a ball to Bolaño but it fell to the opposition instead. Then, the hosts got their first opportunity. Clint Dempsey finally got involved in the attack and chipped a pass into the path of Gyasi Zardes. Zardes’ initial touch let him down and failed to get a shot away.
Brooks, in the 39th minute, made another fine defensive play. Nobody closed Montero down and he whipped a cross towards the middle of the box. The Hertha central defender turned his body to clear the ball out for a corner again.
The US lost possession in the middle of the pitch. Ecuador then attempted to get something going in the 4th minute of the second half. Bolaños had an excellent touch to flick the ball towards 14. Michael Bradley went into a defensive mode and made a great tackle.
Graham Zusi found Jermaine Jones in space near the top of the 18-yard-box in the 59th minute. Jones let fly from distance but watched his attempt fall straight into the arms of the Ecuadorian goalkeeper. The attacks kept coming from the US. Bobby Wood started one down the left before slicing a pass towards Dempsey in the middle of the area. The Seattle Sounders man had his shot blocked. The rebound fell to Bradley who blazed a shot over the crossbar.
The best chance of the match came with 19 minutes remaining. USA were holding possession well. Zusi made a darting run toward the far post before squaring a pass back to the other post. Alejandro Bedoya got onto the end of the ball before firing a shot across the face of goal.
USA score late to seal the deal
In the final moments of the match, there was finally a goal, and it came from Darlington Nagbe. A dangerous ball was whipped in from the left. An Ecuadorian defender failed to pump the ball down to the other side of the pitch. As a result of the miscue, Bobby Wood headed a ball to the chest of Nagbe. Then, Nagbe showed great skill by controlling volleying a shot into the back of the net.
Jürgen Klinsmann will have to be happy with the result even though there are things to work on. His side defended well against the pacey Ecuadorians in the opening half. During the second half, the glaring aspect of the US’ game that needs to improve is the finishing. They created multiple opportunities but concerted only one.
The United States has one final tuneup before the matches start to count. They face off against Bolivia on Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas.