Commentary

USA-Ecuador: Men's Friendly Player Ratings

USA-ECUADOR EXPRESS:
March 21 in Orlando, Fla.
USA 1 Ecuador 0. Goal: Zardes 81.
Att.: 17,442.

The USA beat Ecuador, 1-0, in the much-anticipated first game under new head coach Gregg Berhalter with a full contingent of foreign-based players. The USA's dominance grew as the first half went on, but it struggled after the break to find any rhythm against an opponent that showed no willingness to attack. The USA was, therefore, fortunate to get a goal on Gyasi Zardes' deflected shot in the 81st minute.



USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)
GOALKEEPER
In his first U.S. start in more than five years, Sean Johnson faced only one shot all evening and it sailed over the goal in the first half. His improved foot work was a reason he earned a recall, and he did a good job as the USA worked to play the ball out of the back.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Sean Johnson (New York City FC) 7/0 (29)

DEFENDERS
The back four made things easy for Johnson, allowing La Tricolor to penetrate only a couple of times. Both Aaron Long and John Brooks covered a lot of ground and won their individual battles. One of the few turnovers came late in the game after the USA went ahead, but Brooks bailed out Tim Ream, who was wearing the captain's armband for the U.S. for the first time. Right back Tyler Adams occasionally found himself pressing more than he should in midfield, but his boundless energy made up for it. The backline was rarely pressured on the ball by the Ecuadorans, who chose to sit in a deep block. Ream showed off his passing ability, finding Zardes on the game's only goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
6 Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER) 10/1 (20)
6 Aaron Long (NY Red Bulls) 5/0 (26)
6 John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER) 37/3 (26)
6 Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG) 27/1 (31)

MIDFIELDERS
In the first half, Wil Trapp was the most effective U.S. player, running the attack and frequently finding Paul Arriola open on the left wing. But a knock to the thigh picked up late in the first half tightened up and he had to be subbed early in the second half. Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie both worked hard to break through the Ecuadoran backline without much success. Pulisic, who laid a ball off to Arriola for the USA's best chance in the first half, was ineffective after the break and taken off after an hour in a planned substitution. Shortly thereafter, McKennie had to leave the game after falling badly on his ankle. It was so bad a cart had to come and deliver him to the U.S. bench after he was substituted.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
6 Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew) 14/0 (26)
5 Weston McKennie (Schalke 04/GER) 8/1 (20)
5 Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 24/9 (20)

FORWARDS
At center forward, Gyasi Zardes worked hard in the first half to unlock the Ecuadoran defense. His perseverance was rewarded late in the game when he fired a speculative shot from 25 yards that deflected off Robert Arboleda's foot and high into the air, skimming off the underside of the crossbar and over helpless goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez. Paul Arriola saw a lot of the ball but failed to put away the best chance of the first half. Jordan Morris looked uncomfortable in the role of the right winger though he had the best cross of the first half, finding Arriola for a goal called back for offside.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) 26/5 (24)
6 Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew) 43/6 (27)
5 Paul Arriola (D.C. United) 20/3 (24)
 

SUBSTITUTES
The game had already begun to slow down in the second half before the early substitutions. Michael Bradley and Sebastian Lletget controlled midfield and made few mistakes but couldn't break down the determined Ecuadorans. DeAndre Yedlin replaced fellow Seattleite Morris and showed glimpses of promise in his new role of winger in front of Adams. Cristian Roldan came on after McKennie's injury while Jonathan Lewis was a late sub for Arriola.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) 144/17 (31)
5 Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy) 8/2 (26)
5 DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG) 58/0 (25)
5 Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders) 8/0 (23)
NR Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC) 3/0 (21)
 
TRIVIA. The USA won its third straight game since Berhalter took over as national team coach. The only other coach in the modern era to start his tenure with three wins was Bob Bradley in 2007.

March 21 in Orlando, Fla.
USA 1 Ecuador 0.
Goals: Zardes 81.
USA --
S.Johnson; Adams, Long, Brooks, Ream; Trapp (Bradley 59), McKennie (Roldan 69), Pulisic (Lletget 62); Morris (Yedlin 68), Zardes, Arriola (Lewis 77).
Ecuador --
Dominguez; Paredes, Arboleda, Achilier, Caicedo; Gruezo; A.Valencia, Mendez, Orejuela, Renato Ibarra (Campana 46); Romario Ibarra (Julio 71).
Yellow cards:
USA -- Arriola 56; Ecuador -- Julio 90+3. Red cards: none.
Referee:
David Gantar (Canada).
Att.:
17,442.

Stats:
USA/Ecuador
Shots:
5/1
Shots on Goal:
2/0
Saves:
0/1
Corner Kicks:
6/1
Fouls:
7/4
Offside:
1/1
Possession:
62%/38%

30 comments about "USA-Ecuador: Men's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Bob Ashpole, March 22, 2019 at 9:06 a.m.

    I liked how the team played in the first half, but Ecuador did not press the back line at all.

    There were some bad touches and passes. Some bad decisions too. Ream wasn't the only one to make a questionable back pass to the keeper. Also play was too slow too often. Predictably when the speed of play was quicker, the US attack broke down the opponent. 

    Two pleasant surprises. Trap and Zardes showed much improvement. Trap was better positioned and more consistent. Zardes was much more effective playing in the CF position. His goal was a lucky deflection, but his excellent positioning to receive the pass was what made the chance happen.

         

  2. beautiful game replied, March 22, 2019 at 7:59 p.m.

    Zardes made one good pass for Pulisic and got a lucky goal. So, now you are all excited about a player with a mediocre soccer IQ that has never delivered a solid game. Yes, Ecuador was even worse, but coach B never changed the rythm and tempo of the game by pressing the opponent in their end. This friendly proved nothing except that playing not to lose is the wrong mental prescription.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2019 at 8:50 p.m.

    BG, come on. If you're honest, you have to admit that this was Zardes best game at CF. I am only comparing him to himself, not to anyone else. You can call this game something less than solid, but this game is an improvement over his past in the 9 position.

    I said I was surprised, not excited. 

  4. Dan Flood, March 22, 2019 at 9:15 a.m.

    Zardes had a lucky goal plain and simle and did nothing else all evening.  Why he still sees the field for the National team is a mysterry.  Pulisic should be playing outside as he needs more space to operate.  Adams should be in the midfield, this hybrid right back/center mid is not using him wiesly, Yedlin should play right back, he is good coming forward and that would allow Adams to move into the mid field.  It would have been nice if Ecuador came out of their bunker more often.

  5. Kent James, March 22, 2019 at 9:34 a.m.

    Disappointed with Ecuador, since they did not press us much. I thought we did not try enough to penetrate (too many passes around the back), but there is a fine line between patience and over caution.

  6. Carl Neff replied, March 22, 2019 at 3:20 p.m.

    agree that they passed around the back field way too much, and feel they were way over the wrong side of the line.  i can't figure out what they were trying to do.   There was a 2-minute period from minute 71 to 73 where they passed the ball around their back field.  I don't think they learned anything during times like that, and neither did we.  I don't know much about the Ecuadorian coach, but I'd bet that he'll be replaced before Conmebol begins its world cup qualifiers.

  7. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2019 at 3:46 p.m.

    Carl, I looked at minute 71-73 and I was impressed how they held on to the ball without kicking it long downfield for they could have, but instead the played  it to their goalie who didn't attempt to blast it long downfield but instead to a back  and realize the US were pressing up high. They showed how well they were handling the ball under the pressure.....

  8. Brian ELLIS, March 22, 2019 at 9:42 a.m.

    My greatest disappointment was the crowd. I pray the TV audience was much stronger than what I saw in the stands last night. Even in tough times, true fans stick by their team. 

  9. Philip Carragher, March 22, 2019 at 10:03 a.m.

    I'm laughing at myself, sitting here trying to decide whether to risk my honest response to last night's game without first reading opinions that agree with mine or, do like so many soccer teams do these days and wait, sit back, and counterattack after more comments are posted, hopefully agreeing with my perspective. Well, I guess I'm in attack mode today. I was appalled at what I witnessed last night (with apologies to those who are looking for positives). I had to replay Tyler Adams first miscue, where his first touch disappeared the ball out of bounds. I thought, “did I really see that”? Well, I did, but okay. I'm a believer that substitutes who are fresh to the game need to be forgiven when their first touch or pass is poor, but a starter? Okay, he's nervous. Then, not long after,  McKennie has one, then another, first touch come bounding off his foot.  Yikes. Later, I’m looking for Pulisic to remove at least a little of my USMNT negativity with some magic, yet even Pulisic, who is being tabbed as Eden Hazard’s replacement on Chelsea, takes on his man, gets double-teamed, and easily gives it away. Very un-Hazard like. Next, how about them finishes? Arriloa can’t put that one in, then, did Zardes really whiff right in front of the net or was he dummying? Again, apologies to those looking for positives but, from where I sit, these examples are, at the international level, too egregious to ignore.

  10. Wallace Wade, March 22, 2019 at 10:08 a.m.

    How much $ would you spend to see this USMNT play Ecuador? If prices stay the same, more pitiful crowds. That’s not even speaking to the grassroots soccer crowd that refuses to put even one more $ in Cordeiro’s coffers. It’s more people than the “media” can even imagine. 

  11. stewart hayes, March 22, 2019 at 10:21 a.m.

    Weston McKennie's injury, though thoroughly self inflicted, was hard to watch.  I hope he recovers quickly.  Ecuador did little to press the back line but pressed in the MF well and toward the end of the game it was evident the strategy almost paid off.  They did not have to press high to get the ball.  We were quite fortunate to come away with the win.  It was a good excecise in patience for the men and it demonstrated that we need even less direct play.  Far far too many 1 touch passes were intercepted.    


  12. John Soares, March 22, 2019 at 11:45 a.m.

    pc, I have had the opportunity/pleasure of watching Pele, Best, CR, Messi and a few other top players live. As great as they are, were. No question every one of them have made many poor even silly passes/plays/mistakes. If you are going to scrutinize every touch I promise you will find faults.
    Why are you waisting your time watching?

  13. frank schoon, March 22, 2019 at 12:19 p.m.

    I watched the first 60min. of it and I'm not impressed. I see the same mistakes made as in all the previous NTs. First of all there is no balance at midfield. What I mean by that is McKenna, Trap and Pulisic ,all the midfielders like to have the ball come to their feet first, which is not good nor efficient and it makes the game to predictable at midfield. The other problem is that Pulisic is playing left half and is right footed, which often means his body position is wrong and receives  the ball lacking good fieldview, thereby slowing the attack. I sense he doesn't feel comfortable there, either. 
    Pulisic has not improved his play or rather his development this past year and that's why he'sbeen benched and has not played much for Dortmunt. And now he's going to England which will not help his , instead he should have gone to Spain to play to further develop,technically as well tactically. The only thing that's further going to develop Pulisic is the size of his wallet... The overall problem is  that most of our boys end up going to Germany or England, two countries that I'm not high upon when it comes to player development. Both countries have similar playing characteristics that fit our players style ,run, fight and hustle...
    Pulisic needs to work on his corners, his kicking techniques are not all that great. Talking about corners, did you notice how Ecuador sets up their corners. By keeping 3 players up front, reduces the amount of traffic in front of their own goal, giving the goalie more time to see, react, and move positionally; and as a result it is less hectic in front of the goal. It's much easier for him, for in front the goal with a 6v5 advantage, exclusive the goalie(7v5). Compare to the US defense set up on corners which is 10v7. In other words 17players in front of the US goal as compared to 11 to Ecuador. 
    This is the way Johan Cruyff wants the corners defensively to be set up by placing 3 attackers up field forcing the opponents to take 4 defenders back, thererby clearing the goal area. The US decided to only play 3v3 upfield which ,I think, is not wise.
    Furthermore on corners, Pulisic should not take corners on the leftside, which result in Inswingers. Here are two points to take into account. One we don't have leftfooted attackers in front of the goal but right footed ones which means they'll have a difficult time to head the ball with the right side of forehead. Furthermore, the inswingers are at a disadvantage to US players for they are committed to go forwards towards the goal to try and head the ball. But it's a big advantage for Ecuador defenders for the ball will come towards them and therefore able to head the ball with power outwards for the counterattack where 3 Ecuadorian attackers are waiting upfield. We should have  NO INSWINGERS ,to play it safe. NEXT POST
     

  14. Richard Bzdek replied, March 22, 2019 at 4:18 p.m.

    Most studies I've seen said corner inswingers result in a higher percentage of goals than outswingers, so not sure I understand your position on taking no inswingers. While some of your points might be logical there must be other factors that contribute to a higher percentage of goals from inswingers, such as the ball moving toward the goal versus away, opportunities for a redirect, etc.

  15. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2019 at 5:03 p.m.

    Richard,stats do not make a soccer game, maybe in baseball. In soccer because of its fluidness anything you do is related to something else. An inswinger  is called for if ,for example, the goalie doesn’t function well with guys coming in. Other goalies don’t feel comfortable with out-swingers because they are not sure if they should come out or not. In this particular game taking into account the tactics and the way opponents positioned themselves on the front line for a quick fast counter attack, it behooves the US to cut down chances of counter attack and is done not giving the opponents a chance to head the ball out with power as a result of an in swinger.
    Soccer is a very detailed game for example if during the late afternoon the game is scheduled to be played and the field is covered with a shadow lengthwise, then it very important to know where the slower players of the opponent’s are positioned....

  16. frank schoon, March 22, 2019 at 12:22 p.m.

    The balance between our flanks is also missing. I mentioned improper midfield balance, but balance between the flanks is also not there. In other words, if one flank is playful, what Cruyff calls, Tutti-fruitie, then other flank needs  to be STABLE, conservative. Our left side is more playfull, better technical attacking players,there is more movement ,combinational play and attack .But you need a conservative side on the right to support the leftside attack. If both flanks are Tutti-fruiti  that can only lead to serious defensive holes resulting in dangerous counterattacks.So what happens we have on the right side, Tyler Adams, running around like a headless chicken, sometimes popping up around the leftside of the field. Of course ,this is allowed by GB, otherwise no one in his right mind would do this. Adams isn't needed on the leftside of the field for he not only gets in the way, but he leaves his own position wide open forcing Morris to run his butt off to cover for Adams. I've never seen a winger having to run so much going back on defense, which forces Morris spend a lot of energy. Can you imagine if Messi run back so much, he wouldn't be as dangerous up front...


    Notice how often Adams has to run back chasing his own attacker from behind to catch up...That's not right. When it gets to be hot in the 90's , an oxygen tent would be needed.


    Morris lacks good one on one skills, the only time he's useful is when he's able to run into a open space chasing the ball down. But what do we see mostly ,he gets the ball passed to his feet. And when he has a defender on him the ball should not be passed to his feet but in space behind the defender where Morris can run into. These are simple A,B,C's of soccer that I don't see at this level of play. NEXT POST


     

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2019 at 5:35 p.m.

    I like it when both flanks are capable of "tuti-frutie", they just have to not press up at the same time.

    I see your point about inswingers vs. outswingers. I liked to use inswingers to the weak side winger because I could bend the ball away from the keeper. If the forwards commit too early (which was often the case with amateurs) the outswingers won't work. Also amateur fullbacks generally weren't good in the air. I guess you could say a poor level of play breeds poor habits.

    What suprised me on the corners was the repeated lofted balls.

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2019 at 5:38 p.m.

    Another point in your favor, I imagine the outswingers are safer--less risk of injury.

  19. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2019 at 6:50 p.m.

    Bob, it would be nice to have  both sides to be Tutti-frutti, but if both sides  play creative fast loosy goosy than the makeup of the team as a whole would not function as well defensively. Just like in the backfield , you can’t place all offensive players, there needs to be a balance with some defensive players

  20. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2019 at 11:07 a.m.

    Bob, you notice on the corners against Ecuador, we were not really a threat, especially when you realize we score plenty of goals on corners. The Ecuadorian took our threat away by placing more guys up front.
    Those lofted balls were embarrassing especially when you're a pro. But that goes to show the poor kicking techniques of pros today..

  21. frank schoon, March 22, 2019 at 12:23 p.m.

     Furthermore the right flank lacks any good combinational play, for McKenna and Morris don't click and are not known for short technical give and go's, especially Morris. Zardes has no playing affinity with either of these two players. Zardes, like Adams, has never been taught to make space.  When the ball is on the right side(flank) Zardez should be running to the farpost or away from the attacking side thereby creating space in front of the goal for Pulisic to make a blindside run(vice versa) which never happens. As a matter of fact Pulisic likewise has no clue as far as positional soccer, field position that is. I see Pulisic in the middle of the penalty area where Zardes is positioned which is not helpful ,space wise; instead they cancel each other out. Notice also Zardez is not respected enough by the centerbacks of Ecuador because neither will follow him back up field if Zardez moves towards midfield. The only effect Zardes could have is his ability to move horizontally not vertically.


    On the build up from the backfield, the passes to the back, Adams or Reams, are made to stationary backs. Why even bother passing to Adams or Reams who standing stationary receiving the ball to the feet because the other side, weak side, will be cancelled out leaving the US 7v10. The only reason you pass to a back if he is running on the flank with space ahead...but that's not happening for there is no space created for the back to run into. As result ,everything is bottled up at the midfield line. And if Adams decides to run somewhere else than it forces Morris to come back receiving the ball with his back facing downfield with or little or no options other than to pass it back or square to Trap.


    Can you imagine if Ecuador played high defense upfield, the amount of long balls coming out of our backfield. GB needs to work more on the build up and offensive details. 

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2019 at 5:45 p.m.

    It is a work in progress, but it appears to me that the coach is trying to use positional play.

    This may sound strange, but after Bradley came in I saw at least twice when he looked for a 1-2 with the left FB, the FB was oblivious to it. Sadly Bradley was through and had open space in front of him in the center channel. So it wasn't just some of the team not doing the simple things.

  23. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2019 at 11:18 a.m.

    Bob ,it may be a work in progress but there is no excuse in how Zardes positions himself. That's the overal fault of the coaching staff. The moment ,for example our attack start from the right side of midfield, Zardez should be making a contrarun, meaning diagonally away from the ball. This does two things: one, you shift or split their centerbacks defense to their right ,away from the ball creating a open gap for Pulisic, or McKenna to run into or even allowing Zardez ,himself to run back into, two by making a contrarun , you take away defenders from that area, but what happens instead, Zardez often stays in the center lane or runs toward towards the flank of attack and thus bringing in more defenders....

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2019 at 3:28 p.m.

    I agree with that, Frank, but I didn't see a lot of good movement off the ball by anyone. Sadly creating space with runs is something I consider a fundamental. I taught U10s how to make clearing and checking runs. It is quick and easy to teach. Of course then they spend decades learning how and when to apply it. 

  25. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2019 at 4:05 p.m.

    Bob, that is very disappointing for me at least that Zardes isn't doing this contrarun. This gives me no confidence for the coaching staff. I mean ,lets face it, the coaching staff works on this full time, 24/7. This is a no-brainer, it is easy to see the Zarded needs to move off the ball to open space. All they have him doing is hang in the middle and lay off short passes.... Zardez is not good on a dime with the ball, he lacks that technical finesse to operate in space that he is in. He needs to create space for himself and others. 
    Look at the game again and see how close Pulisic comes to Zardes ,which I don't understand for they cancel each other do to the traffic . I can understand this situation if it were Maradona and Messi were close in tight for they can handle the ball dribble and give a quick short in traffic. But Pulisic and Zardes are Neanderthals in situation.
    I'm really questioning GB on what he wants to do on the right wing.

  26. uffe gustafsson, March 22, 2019 at 4:46 p.m.

    damn you are a tough crowd to please.
    equadore never got one real chance so that I think is something none of you mention, I saw some very positive things the outside back was open high up on the field and we had some great crosses as well some quick passing in front of the goal to make several dangerous situations. But playing against a team that have every player bunker inside the final third is not an easy thing to break down. And make for a boring game to watch. I think the US played a very good game.

  27. James Madison, March 22, 2019 at 6:25 p.m.

    5 shots; 2 on goal.  in 90 minutes.  It looked like momentary opportunities by the bucketful were available from 15-20+ yards, but either not seen or not taken.  That needs fixing.

  28. beautiful game, March 22, 2019 at 8:18 p.m.

    Take it for what it is people; Ecuador played like a "D" team at best. USNT played like a "C" team at best. Coach B's game plan was a "D" in both halves. The TV commentary was an "F". and the TV camera director kept me in a dizzy more than a few times. Someone in this discussion opined that players like Pele, Cruff, Messi, etc., make mistakes. Why would anyone bring these icons into this conversation in order to excuse the USNT player of their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, but the really good players make them far, far  less and they make it up with multiple great plays. Some of the mistakes made in this Ecuador game were howlers and some just can't bring themselves to say that certain veteran players don't belong on this team. I for one think Zardes brings nothing to the table and his track record speaks for itself it. Any decent coach needs to make tough decisions on players that bring little to the table. So far, coach B is derelict in unloading such players.   

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, March 22, 2019 at 9:07 p.m.

    I agree with most of what you say BG, except that I don't think the coach is making a mistake in his selections.

    Regarding Zardes, we need someone like Brian McBride, but I don't see one to select. I believe that the coach is using Zardes as a standin for Altidore. In other words the selection is not about Zardes, but rather about providing experience for the team relevant to the future. I am not a fan of Altidore either, but I don't know of anyone else ready to step up there now. This is CONCACAF, not Spain. 

    Regarding the 6, Trapp took a knock and came off. That is going to happen, especially in CONCACAF. The away games especially are very much about physical aversity and survival. 

  30. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2019 at 9:27 p.m.

    BG, I likewise question Zardes at the position he is playing. He is no better or worse than Morris on the wing. That whole front line needs a makeover

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