It was a much anticipated match for most, as the US Men’s National Team was set to play at RBA for the first time against Ecuador, following their first victory under Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, over Honduras on Saturday night.
The squad selected by Klinsmann was an eclectic mix; veteran GK, Howard, a defensive line up consisting of Cherundolo, Chandler, Oguchi and Bocanegra. Midfield saw the likes of Beckerman, Williams, Edu and Shea, while the two strikers were Altidore and Dempsey, as the absence of Donovan continues.
The game was off to a scintillating start as the U.S looked towards their second victory under Klinsmann, but the Ecuador side was equally hungry for a win. The fans were not left disappointed, as not one minute passed where they was not glued to the field. The atmosphere in the arena can best be described as energetic; although the “American Outlaws” were definitely outnumbered by the Ecuadorian fans, they kept chanting the entire ninety minutes. Sadly, it would take one simple chant from an Ecuador fan that inevitably managed to get every fan sporting the yellow national jersey involved, and soon, the chants from the South Ward in Red Bull Arena could not be heard. 20, 707 fans attended the international friendly, which is a sad fact and reflection on the support of the USMNT.
Youngster, Brek Shea who has recently made headlines due to all the interest he has received from the EPL showed exactly why he is a part of the starting eleven; on the attack and defensively on top of his game. Chandler making the Manchester United player, Valencia seem nonexistent in this match; shutting down every possible attempt by the midfielder, and of course no one can deny the energy and desire behind Danny Williams, who seemed to break away time and time again. Unfortunately, he just could not seem to find an open boot in the box.
The story of the night had to be Oguchi Oneywu, and Klinsmann put it best when he said; “Gooch is back.” The defender seemed like a giant on the field, back in shape and hungry to prove to everyone that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
On the other end of the field, the Ecuadorian midfielder, Jefferson Montero seemed to be the biggest threat to Howard, repeatedly attacking and hoping to find the net. Unfortunately, he could not break through the US defense, and neither could anyone else. That is, of course, until the second half.
Klinsmann opted to sub six players, bringing in Spector, Ream, Bradley, Beasly, Buddle and Agudelo. It would take 78 minutes for a ball to find the back of the net; a beautiful header from Jaime Ayovi , assisted by his brother, Walter Ayovi, put Ecuador in the lead.To many, there was nothing that Howard could have done to block the goal, and the scapegoat for allowing the goal became Tim Ream. As most social networks immediately flared up following the goal, the word used most to describe the gaff-“ball watching.” What a season it has been for Ream?
To many, a mistake like that cannot be allowed on the national level, and perhaps Ream is not ready to play at this level. Klinsmann disagreed stating “It was a learning moment for Ream. He needs these moments.”Furthermore, the German praised the RBNY player as being “one of the most promising center backs for this country.”
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the game was the fact that the U.S had seemed in control, keeping possession, double the amount of shots on goal, and a staggering 22 shots versus Ecuador’s 9. It took only one chance for Ecuador to capitalize, and in soccer, that is all it takes.
Klinsmann had nothing but good things to say about the team performance; “I think the team tried really hard to do what we asked of them-stepping it up a notch after the Honduras game.” He was beyond content with the performances of Shea, Oguchi, Chandler and Agudelo. He was adamant about keeping the youngsters in shape during the MLS off season, and even hinted that the MLS needs to change its season to last eleven months. As of now, Klinsmann is still toying with different formations, but assured everyone that he would find the chemistry needed to have an unstoppable team for WC 2014.
“It is a growing process, and it will take time.”- The real question here is how patient can U.S fans remain?
For video footage, check out http://www.youtube.com/user/sk8trgirl9?feature=mhee
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