Two halftime subs combined for a 90th-minute goal to give the U.S. Men’s National Team a 1-0 victory over Ecuador on Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium.
The match was Team USA’s penultimate tuneup match before hosting the Copa America Centenario beginning June 3. The U.S. will play Bolivia on Saturday for its final warmup friendly.
In a game that featured few chances, it was Darlington Nagbe that made the most of his, slotting home a ball from the middle of the area in the final minute of regulation. Bobby Wood set up the goal by winning a header that fell to Nagbe, who had come on at halftime to replace Kyle Beckerman. Wood replaced starter Gyasi Zardes.
I told them at halftime this game would be decided after minute 70. I thought it was a very good test. It gives us a good first taste of the football they play in South America.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann
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On a steamy, humid night, USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he expected the game to be decided late.
“I told them at halftime this game would be decided after minute 70,” Klinsmann said. “I thought it was a very good test. It gives us a good first taste of the football they play in South America.”
Ecuador had the better chances of what few there were in the first half. The game started anxiously for USA when Enner Valencia found himself alone atop the 18-yard box less than a minute in, but scuffed his shot harmlessly toward keeper Brad Guzan, who Klinsmann has said will be his No. 1 choice for the tournament.
Six minutes later, Jefferson Montero’s cross deflected off Beckerman and forced Guzan to react and push the ball behind the goal for an Ecuador corner kick.
Guzan was called on again in the 17th minute, when Montero worked his way to the end line and put a ball dangerously across the middle, forcing the keeper into action.
The best first-half chance for the U.S. came in the 29th minute, when Clint Dempsey dropped a deft chip pass over the defense to play Zardes in, but Zardes’ first touch was heavy and Ecuador keeper Alexander Dominguez was able to close and smother the ball.
As Klinsmann predicted, the game started to open up for the U.S. after the hour mark and the offense strung together several opportunities for shots.
In the 72nd minute, Graham Zusi cleverly dribbled himself deep into the left side of the area before cutting a ball all the way across for an oncoming Alejandro Bedoya, whose tight-angle shot flashed back across the mouth of goal and narrowly wide on the opposite side.
Just as a draw seemed inevitable, DeAndre Yedlin worked himself free for a cross from the right side that started the series of events leading to Nagbe’s goal.
“I’m happy because we want to build confidence with these two friendlies,” Klinsmann said. “We want to prove to ourselves we can compete with them.”