The United States Men's National Team will look to build on its 3-1 victory against Puerto Rico as it takes on Ecuador in an international friendly in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday the 25th at 8 p.m. EST.
The 12th ranked Ecuadorian side should provide a much stiffer test then Puerto Rico. Ecuador is in Group B for the Copa America Centenario and could potentially face the U.S. in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
While Ecuador probably isn't the 12th best national team in the world, as the FIFA Rankings suggest, the team is still very good. The Ecuadorians are a physical team and rely on pace to overwhelm their opponents. Expect Ecuador to lineup in its typical 4-4-2.
Ecuador's offense will be led by West Ham striker Enner Valencia. While Valencia struggled to hold down a starting spot for West Ham this past season, he is arguably Ecuador's best attacker. Valencia is an excellent dribbler and his high work rate should keep the USMNT defense busy.
On the defensive side of the ball expect Juan Carlos Paredes to anchor the backline. The Watford right-back has been a key part of his nation's defense since the 2014 World Cup. Paredes likes to push up and attack down the wing, so the U.S. left-back will need to be vigilant.
Other players to watch for are Manchester United's Antonio Valencia, who still features regularly for his country despite taking on a lesser role at ManU, as well as FC Dallas' Carlos Guerzo. The young DP is the youngest player on Ecuador's team at only 21. A late addition to the roster, the defensive midfielder already has 10 caps for his country.
The result of this match will be largely dependent on the lineup Jurgen Klinsmann deploys. Unlike against Puerto Rico, the roster for this friendly will be the same as the one for the Copa America.
MLS players have joined the team after this past weekend's fixtures. However, it is unclear how many of these MLS players Klinsmann will start against Ecuador as they all played games over the weekend.
Look for newly appointed starter Brad Guzan to get the nod in goal. DeAndre Yedlin also should start again after a solid performance against Puerto Rico, further building on a good club season at Sunderland.
The two starting centerbacks will likely be chosen from the trio of Geoff Cameron, Matt Besler, and John Brooks. Brooks started against Puerto Rico, but Klinsmann should look to test out the pairing of Cameron and Besler.
Fabian Johnson is listed as a defender on the roster and if this is indicative of where he will play in the Copa America, then expect him to start at left-back against Ecuador.
U.S. captain Michael Bradley should start in the central midfield, despite playing 90 minutes over the weekend. Often noted as the fittest player on the team, Bradley almost never misses national team matches and will probably play even if he is exhausted.
With Jermaine Jones having played 90 minutes over the weekend, Perry Kitchen has a good chance to start in central defensive midfield. Gyasi Zardes should get a chance to start at left-midfield.
Bobby Wood and Clint Dempsey will almost certainly start up top, although Klinsmann may be hesitant to start Dempsey considering his history of injuries and the fact that he played 90 minutes over the weekend for Seattle.
The U.S. dominated possession against Puerto Rico, but will have significantly less control of the ball in this friendly. The USMNT needs to be more efficient in attack and better organized in defense. This match should be close and hard fought. I predict that the U.S. loses 2-1.