Nagbe gives USA win over Ecuador with 90th-minute goal
The U.S. men's national team received a 90th-minute goal from Darlington Nagbe to beat Ecuador 1-0 in front of a crowd of less than 10,000 in its penultimate match before kicking off Copa America Centenario.
The U.S. was coming off a 3-1 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday, but that was with a makeshift squad featuring a number of extras and preliminary roster players, while the much of the final group of players completed their club commitments before being released for Copa America duty. With a full roster in tow, Klinsmann opted for a three-man midfield with Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman behind a front line of Gyasi Zardes, Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi, and it didn't lead to much.
A sloppy and chippy first half yielded no legitimate scoring chances for either side. In fact, neither team registered a shot on goal, and each took one shot, period. Zardes had the USA's best opportunity 30 minutes in, but his first touch let him down following a promising set up by Dempsey, and he wound up colliding with Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
The U.S. nearly put a chance on frame a couple of minutes into the second half–Bobby Wood and Nagbe came on at the break–with Michael Bradley delivering a promising ball toward the far post after a short corner. Neither Dempsey, Steve Birnbaum nor John Brooks could make a play on the pass, though, and backup goalkeeper Esteban Dreer collected the ball to end the threat. Dreer replaced the injured Dominguez at halftime.
The U.S. had its most promising moment on the hour mark, when, after a quick-hitting combination sent Wood down the left channel, Dempsey had a close-range chance blocked, and Bradley fired high and over the bar on a long-range follow.
Substitutions continued for the U.S. in the 63rd minute, with 17-year-old Christian Pulisic and Alejandro Bedoya replacing Jones and Dempsey.
They both played a role in another moment of promise for the U.S. attack, with Pulisic feeding Nagbe, who found Zusi in the attacking third. Zusi beat his defender into the left side of the box and crossed to the far post, but the angle was a little tight for Bedoya, who rolled his chance across the goal mouth and wide of the post.
The U.S. finally got its goal through Nagbe in the waning moments. DeAndre Yedlin sent a cross in from the right, and it was poorly cleared. Wood was alert to head it back across the box, where an unmarked Nagbe was waiting in the center. He chested the ball to himself and roadhouse kicked a low effort in to give the USA the win with his first international goal.
Pulisic helped the U.S. kill off the match in stoppage time with this impressive piece of persistence and skill:
The U.S. plays Bolivia in another friendly on Saturday before opening Copa America against Colombia on June 3.
These were the starting lineups for the match:
Rosters for both teams are below:
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moncengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham)
MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
GOALKEEPERS: Máximo Banguera (Barcelona), Alexander Domínguez (LDU Quito), Esteban Dreer (Emelec)
DEFENDERS: Gabriel Achilier (Emelec), Robert Arboleda (Universidad Católica), Walter Ayoví (Monterrey), Frickson Erazo (Atlético Mineiro), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Cristian Ramírez (Ferencváros)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Arroyo (Club América), Fernando Gaibor (Emelec), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Pedro Larrea (El Nacional), Fidel Martínez (Pumas UNAM,), Ángel Mena (Emelec), Jefferson Montero (Swansea), Christian Noboa (Rostov), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
FORWARDS: Jaime Ayoví (Godoy Cruz), Miler Bolaños (Grêmio), Juan Cazares (Atlético Mineiro), Enner Valencia (West Ham United)