US Soccer

Match Preview: U.S. Men's National Team prepares for Copa America Centenario with friendly versus Ecuador

Clint Dempsey USMNT 160525

The US national team’s Copa America Centenario preparations will get into full swing on Wednesday, when Jurgen Klinsmann will lead most of his 23-man tournament roster in a friendly against fellow Copa participants Ecuador.

The match will be the US’s first with their 11-man MLS contingent, which didn’t join the team until Monday in Dallas. In all, 22 of the 23 players named to the US’s final Copa America roster (third goalkeeper Ethan Horvath will remain with Norwegian club Molde until just before the US’s opener) will be available on Wednesday – a stark change from the “transition camp” group that trained last week in Miami and won 3-1 at Puerto Rico on Sunday.

The US will face a tough test in Ecuador. They should offer a similar challenge to Colombia, whom the US will take on in the tournament opener on June 3, and should serve as a quality warmup ahead of the Americans’ final pre-Copa friendly on Saturday against Bolivia in Kansas City.

What will the lineup look like?

With so much of the roster playing significant minutes over the weekend in MLS, against Puerto Rico or in Germany, Klinsmann’s options will be a bit limited on Wednesday. The US should trot out a strong starting group, then use their subs early and often. Risking any one player in the Texas heat on short rest with recent travel seems unlikely. Expect Klinsmann to take a look at plenty of players on Wednesday, then use Saturday’s match against Bolivia as more of a dress rehearsal for Colombia.

How healthy are Fabian Johnson and Geoff Cameron?

Two of the US’s best – and most consistent – players, both Johnson (groin) and Cameron (hamstring) entered last week’s Miami camp with nagging injuries. Both were limited in training in Miami, and neither traveled to Puerto Rico for Sunday’s friendly, instead heading straight to Dallas from Florida. They still have a bit of time to recover before the Copa opener on June 3, but it’d be a little worrying if either is unable to suit up on Wednesday.

Where will DeAndre Yedlin play?

Often used by Klinsmann as a winger, DeAndre Yedlin has played his last two USMNT matches at his more familiar right back spot. He thrived there while on loan to Sunderland last English Premier League season, and, while he said on Monday that he’s not sure where he’ll play this summer, Klinsmann was a bit more definitive in a Facebook fan Q+A on Sunday.

“DeAndre is, for us, also always an option maybe to bring in as a winger,” Klinsmann said. “But right now we hope that he is going into the Copa America as a right back with a lot of confidence.”

Players to Watch

Jermaine Jones, USA

Box to box destroyer? Center back? Target striker? No. 10? Jones could, theoretically, play in any of those spots during the Copa America. It’s probably most likely that he’ll line up between Michael Bradley – who usually plays in an attacking role for the US – and a holding midfielder, but it’ll be interesting to see if Klinsmann has any tricks up his sleeve for the Colorado Rapids’ creative engine on Wednesday.

Miller Bolaños, Ecuador

FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo is the Ecuadorian likely to draw the most attention from MLS fans on Wednesday night, but former Chivas USA attacker Miller Bolaños will also be worth keeping an eye on. The 25-year-old spent 2012 and half of 2013 with Chivas, recording three goals and four assists in 29 MLS games before returning to Ecuador with Emelec in 2013. He was a terror there, scoring 61 goals in 105 appearances in all competitions with the club before moving to Brazilian side Gremio this winter.

His success with Emelec placed him firmly in the national team picture, and even though he missed out on their recent World Cup qualifiers against Colombia and Paraguay, he could serve as a sparkplug for Ecuador this summer. 



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