After an amazing turn of events to close out the group stage in the Copa America Centenario, the US Men’s Soccer team emerged as the group A winner. That gave the US a quarterfinal matchup against the 2nd place finisher in group B, which would help them avoid Brazil. We didn’t know at the time that Brazil would ultimately lose and be eliminated from the Copa America tournament in the group stage for the first time since 1987. As a result, the US gets to play Ecuador in Seattle tonight at 9:30pm ET.
In the group stage, Ecuador played to a nil-nil draw with Brazil, a 2-2 draw with Peru and then beat Haiti 4-0. Ecuador is a formidable opponent, ranked #13 in the FIFA world ranking. They have not had much success in the Copa America, reaching the quarterfinals in 1997 and nothing much since. The World Cup has also not been their friend, reaching the Round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup, reaching the group stage in 2002 and 2014, and not even qualifying in 2010.
On the other side of the pitch, the USMNT hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. After a 2-0 loss to Columbia, they beat Costa Rica 4-0 and then Paraguay 1-0 to advance. Both wins were big for their confidence, but can they translate that into a good game tonight? The last time the US made any headway in the Copa America was a 4th place finish in 1995. In World Cup play the US has had some mild success, reaching the Round of 16 in 1994, 2010 and 2014 and the quarterfinals in 2002.
Tonight should be a tightly contested match and will be a true test of where the USMNT is at this moment. A win could propel them into a matchup with Argentina in the semi-finals, which would likely be where their Copa run ends. Either way, the Copa America tournament has been a good test for this young USMNT as they set their eyes on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.