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USA wins crazy game against Ecuador, 2-1, and advances to Copa America Centenario semifinals

The USA was able to grind out a 2-1 victory, but couldn't avoid several players getting suspended.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

An action-packed quarterfinal featuring player ejections, coach ejections, and seemingly never-ending waves of Ecuador attacks, ended with the United States Men's National Team defeating Ecuador 2-1.

The match began slowly with both teams looking to get into a rhythm, but struggling to connect passes in the attacking third.

During the opening stages the U.S. started playing hopeful long balls, but by the 15th minute the team was holding possession well.

Clint Dempsey broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute with an exquisite header. After receiving a through ball, Bobby Wood ran to the endline and cut the ball back to Jermaine Jones.

From the right side of the top of the 18-yard box, Jones sent a one-time cross to Dempsey. Dempsey rose above his marker and sent a header flying into the back of the night.

Around the 33rd minute, John Brooks looked to have suffered an elbow injury although the cause of the injury was unclear. Brooks was clearly in pain, but remained on the field.

After Brooks' injury, Ecuador had a few instances in which it got into the attacking third and looked dangerous but it ultimately failed to put shots on target.

Alejandro Bedoya looked destined to double the lead, in the 42nd minute, but sent a weak left-footed shot right at goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.

La Tricolor had a chance to level late in the first half, after John Brooks was stripped of the ball near midfield. A streaking Enner Valencia sent a ball down the left wing to Michael Arroyo. After cutting inside Arroyo sent a low shot to the near post, but Brad Guzan was up to the task.

The USMNT headed into the locker room in a good, but delicate position.

Ecuador came out of the locker room aggressively and dominated the opening five minutes.

This relatively tame match exploded in the 52nd minute with Antonio Valencia and Jermaine Jones both getting sent off. Valencia blatantly kicked Bedoya, and was shown his second yellow card (he received one earlier in the first half).

As the Americans and Ecuadorians confronted each other, Jermaine Jones appeared to slap the face of an opposing player. Jones was promptly ejected and then Bobby Wood was booked for arguing with the referee.

La Tricolor was forced to use its first substitute in the 62nd minute, as Christian Noboa picked up a knock. Fernando Gaibor replaced Noboa.

Against the run of play, the U.S. doubled its lead in the 65th minute. A cross from the left wing was whipped into the box to Gyasi Zardes. Zardes nodded it down to Dempsey who sent the ball to the back post. As the ball was about to roll over the line, Zardes tapped it home doubling the lead.

Just as it looked like the U.S. was destined for victory and a shutout, Ecuador got a goal. A visibly exhausted Alejandro Bedoya fouled Juan Carlos Paredes on the right-wing. Bedoya was booked and will now miss the semifinal.

From the free kick, Walter Ayoví sent a low driven ball to the top of the eighteen. Michael Arroyo was waiting, completely unmarked, and slotted home with ease.

Right after the goal, with the USMNT looking to hold on, Kyle Beckerman came on for Clint Dempsey.

In the 81st minute, Klinsmann took out Alejandro Bedoya for Graham Zusi. With Ecuador desperate for a goal, in the 82nd minute coach Gustavo Quinteros replaced defender Juan Carlos Paredes with forward Jaime Ayoví.

In the 89th minute, Ecuadorian substitutes threw water bottles on the field and Gustavo Quinteros had a lengthy outburst directed at the referee. As a result, Quinteros was sent off.

With La Tricolor throwing everything at the U.S., Klinsmann brought on Steve Birnbaum for Gyasi Zardes in the 94th minute.

Despite numerous late Ecuadorian attacks, the USMNT was able to hold and win 2-1. The U.S. will now face the winner of Argentina-Venezuela in the semifinals.

3 Thoughts

Survive and Advance

The game wasn't pretty and there certainly were moments where it looked like the U.S. might not advance, but the team was able to grind out a win.

The USMNT met Jurgen Klinsmann's goal of advancing to the semifinal and has gone farther than many fans expected.

The U.S. may be in a bad position for the semifinal, with three players suspended, but the team has performed well in this tournament. Jurgen Klinsmann deserves some credit for this Copa America run and looks to have put an end to questions about his job security.

Lack of Composure

Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, and Bobby Wood's respective cards were completely unnecessary. All three will now be suspended for the semifinal.

Jermaine Jones can be a brilliant player. He outworks almost everybody else on the field and is an excellent tackler. With the Colorado Rapids, Jones has also shown that he can be an attacking threat.

However, Jones makes a lot of poor decisions that result in him picking up far too many cards. There was no reason for him to slap an opposing player.

This attack was completely unprovoked. It's incredibly frustrating to watch a 34 year old veteran player make poor decisions that hurt the team. The U.S. won't be able to effectively replace him in the next match.

I have never understood how forwards get cards. They rarely have to make tackles and are almost never in positions where they need to commit fouls.

Bobby Wood knew that he would be suspended if he got a yellow card, yet he still decided to argue with the referee. It was a bone headed decision that will surely cost the U.S.

Alejandro Bedoya's foul was understandable, but avoidable. Bedoya was clearly tired and needed to be subbed out, yet Jurgen Klinsmann didn't remove him until much later.

Bedoya knew Juan Carlos Paredes was going to beat him on the wing and possibly get a cross in. Bedoya probably should have let Paredes beat him and have confidence that the U.S. backline would clear the cross.

Hard Work

Hard work and pressure were vital components of the U.S.' narrow victory. Up until about the 75th minute, the U.S. was sending double and triple teams to pressure Ecuadorian players.

Despite playing 4 games in a short period of time, which led to visible fatigue, USMNT players were running hard until the end of the match.

The U.S. players simply looked like they wanted the victory more than the Ecuadorians. Even when the team shape was breaking down, hard work and a never say die attitude allowed the U.S. to grind out a win.

It might not have been the best soccer, but it was the style of play needed for a victory in this game.