Watch all the key plays as the USMNT hosts Ecuador in a friendly in Orlando.

By Avi Creditor
March 21, 2019

The U.S. men's national team made it three wins in three matches under Gregg Berhalter, edging Ecuador 1-0 in Orlando, Fla., on a fluky goal from Gyasi Zardes.

Zardes's long-range chance in the 81st minute took a wicked deflection off a defender, looping over goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez and under the crossbar for the only score on a night which the U.S. carried the run of play but generated very few dangerous chances.

The win, which followed triumphs over Panama and Costa Rica earlier this year, also came at a cost, with Weston McKennie being stretchered off after landing awkwardly on his left ankle and being unable to walk off the field under his own power.

The match represented the first opportunity for the Bundesliga-based Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and McKennie to start together, with Adams getting a run out at right back after a week of focus put on the RB Leipzig midfielder. It was also John Brooks's first time playing under Berhalter, while Tim Ream got the start at left back and donned the captain's armband.

The U.S. looked to strike early, with holding midfielder Wil Trapp dealing a pinpoint long ball down the left channel for Paul Arriola. The D.C. United winger tried to square the ball for Zardes streaking through the center of the box, but Ecuador had it covered and cleared the danger.

Three minutes later it was the McKennie-Pulisic-Adams trio combining, with McKennie finding Pulisic at the edge of the box, where the Dortmund playmaker slid it through for Adams. His chance was blocked out for a corner, and McKennie put his header off the ensuing set piece wide of the target.

The U.S. forced Dominguez into his first save of the night, with McKennie, Zardes and Pulisic combining well at the edge of the area before Arriola had his close-range chance denied. Pulisic got the final touch to play Arriola through, but Dominguez made himself big and came up with the clutch save in the 26th minute. Had Arriola picked out either corner instead of firing straight down the center, perhaps the U.S. would've taken the lead.

Ecuador's first chance came three minutes later, when Jordan Morris lost track of the forward-surging Beder Caicedo. Renato Ibarra played him into the box, where his left-angled chance was hit well over the bar.

The second half unfolded much like the first, in which the U.S. carried 64% of the possession. The U.S. had plenty of the ball but difficulty in breaking down Ecuador's organized block. The first time the U.S. troubled Ecuador at all came in the 56th minute, when Pulisic received the ball some 25 yards out, turned and raced forward before firing a deflected chance from just outside the box.

Pulisic followed that with one of the better individual moves of the night, when he left Antonio Valencia in his dust, but he exited soon after, coming off for Sebastian Lletget in the 62nd minute.

Five minutes later, the U.S. was forced into another change, when McKennie turned his ankle badly coming down after an aerial and had to hobble off, unable to walk off under his own power. He was eventually stretchered to the locker room after being tended to by the medics on the opposite sideline of the benches.

The U.S. got some good news as the match entered its final stages. It came with a dose of good fortune, as Zardes tried a speculative 25-yard shot. It took a wicked deflection off defender Robert Arboleda, looping over Dominguez and under the crossbar to give the Americans the goal they needed in the 81st minute.

The USA will play against Chile in Houston on Tuesday to complete its camp–the final one before pre-Gold Cup training following the conclusion of the European club seasons.


Here were the lineups for both sides:


Here were the rosters for both nations:

USA

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)

Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Ramirez (Los Angeles FC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

ECUADOR

Goalkeepers: Máximo Banguera (Barcelona), Alexander Domínguez (Vélez Sarfield), Pedro Ortiz (Delfín)

Defenders: Christian Ramírez (Krasnodar), Jacson Porozo (Santos), Juan Carlos Paredes (Emelec), Angelo Preciado (Independiente del Valle), Gabriel Achilier (Morelia), Robert Arboleda (Sao Paulo), Xavier Arreaga (Barcelona), Beder Caicedo (Barcelona)

Midfielders: Jefferson Intriago (Liga de Quito), Renato Ibarra (América), Jefferson Orejuela (Liga de Quito), Jhegson Méndez (Orlando City), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Christian Noboa (Zenit), Romario Ibarra (Minnesota United)

Forwards: Leonardo Campana (Barcelona), Jhojan Julio (Liga de Quito), Ángel Mena (León)

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