After starting the same lineup for three games in a row -- something it has never done since the 1930 World Cup -- the USA will be forced to make at least one change, at right back, against Ecuador on
Thursday. DeAndre Yedlin
's red card means Michael Orozco
will likely get the biggest start of his national team career and be tasked with helping shut down the strength of the Tricolor
Left winger Jefferson Montero
and captain Walter Ayovi
at left back will present a huge challenge to Orozco -- a challenge he is all to well familiar with. He faced
Montero in Mexico when he played for Morelia and Ayovi at Monterrey.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann
is not worried who starts in the place of Yedlin, who will miss his homecoming
"It's a bummer that DeAndre cannot play,"Klinsmann said on Tuesday, "but I'm not worried because I know whoever plays instead of him will get his job done, will give everything he
has. The team know it, the starting team. The bench know it and everybody feels appreciated in his own role right now."
Klinsmann has multiple options -- put Steve Birnbaum
right back (like he did against Canada in January), move Geoff Cameron
to right back (an unlikely option, given the Stoke City defender's successful partnership at center back with John
) or put Fabian Johnson there (like at the World Cup 2014) and install Edgar Castillo
or Matt Besler
at left back -- but all indications are he will start
Orozco, one of five starters from Klinsmann's first game with the national team in 2011 still with the team.
Orozco, whose goal gave the USA its first win over Mexico at Azteca Stadium in
2012, was a starter for the first part of the 2013 Gold Cup before Besler was called in for the knockout stage. In injury kept him off Klinsmann's short list of 30 players for the 2014 World Cup, and
another injury limited him to three league appearances at Mexican club Tijuana in 2016.
Despite being in and out of the national team, Orozco, Klinsmann said, has never complained.
"He's an outstanding individual, very focused," Klinsmann said. "Michael has always been there for the team. Every time he's come in, he's done his job."
Another key to the game is
how the U.S. outside midfielders handle Ecuador's wing play. Particularly, how they push forward without the support of Yedlin, who is a much more attack-minded outside back than Orozco.
"If you look back two years ago in Brazil," said Klinsmann, "our wingers -- it was Ale [Bedoya
] and it was Graham [Zusi
] -- had to deal a lot with the fullbacks from the other teams
going forward. Often they were pushed backwards. Now they've learned -- and Gyasi [Zardes
] is in that learning path right now -- to push their fullbacks back, to make an impression on them.
Take the game to them, that's what we talked about over the last couple of years.