Late Gyasi Zardes Goal Wins Game for USMNT Over Ecuador 1-0

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ORLANDO, FLORIDA - MARCH 21: Orlando City Stadium, before the USMNT vs. Ecuador International Friendly on March 21, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (March 21, 2019) – The United States Men’s National Team hosted Ecuador in an international friendly at Orlando City Stadium on Thursday night. The Americans put on a decent performance and got a lucky goal from Gyasi Zardes at the end of the match to win it.

Late Gyasi Zardes Goal Wins Game for USMNT Over Ecuador 1-0

The theme of the night was plenty of the ball but not chances. La Tricolor sat deep most of the night and rarely counter attacked with more than four players. The Yanks had plenty of the ball from start to finish, but only a handful of chances.

The best chance of the night came in the 26th minute. The Americans pinged the ball through the Ecuadorian defense jut outside the box with a nice exchange between Gyasi Zardes and Weston McKennie. Christian Pulisic got the ball and back-heeled it to the front of goal. Paul Arriola ran onto the ball, unmarked, and shot almost from the penalty shot. Goalkeeper Alexander Domínguez made a fantastic leg save, kicking the ball out of danger.

Ecuador had a decent counter attack opportunity in the 52nd minute, but Weston McKennie and Aaron Long combined to put the fire out before it started.

In the final 20 minutes, the Americans threw numbers forward, but had trouble creating any good chances. The final touch and pass were missing once they got into the final third. They found their goal, albeit out of nowhere, in the 81st minute. Zardes got the ball right outside the box from Tim Ream and fired a hard shot that was deflected up in the air. Domínguez misplayed the falling ball and it snuck in, just under the crossbar.

The two sides exchanged good opportunities but no real shots in the final minutes, but neither could score. The match ended 1-0.

Three Takeaways:

Tyler Adams at right back: This was the first match of the Gregg Berhalter era that Tyler Adams started at right back. The (normally) holding midfielder had some good moments in possession, but got caught a few times up field. Given what Adams has shown in this position at the club level, there is potential but more time and acclimation is needed.

Weston McKennie injury: McKennie was a good No. 8 in this game, but had to be subbed off in the 68th minute. The midfielder took a nasty tackle and appeared to hurt his ankle. He had been playing well for Schalke 04. Hopefully he’s not badly hurt.

Zardes tries something, Domínguez hesitates: The USMNT played well in this game. They were clearly the better team by the eye test and the stats. The goal was a bit lucky, but the result was deserved. Zardes tried something, got a deflection, and the goalkeeper made a mistake.

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