USA Vs. Ecuador, 2011 International Friendly: USMNT Looks To Build On Win

The United States takes on a full strength Ecuador team at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday as Jurgen Klinsmann's team looks to build on their first win under their new boss.

On Saturday, the United States got their first win under Jurgen Klinsmann. It wasn't exactly a fantastic performance, with Tim Howard having to make some great saves to preserve the result, but the team should be satisfied with a win while playing some decent football in bad weather against respectable opposition in Honduras.

Tuesday, the team will need to up their game for a higher level of competition. Coming off of a win against Venezuela in World Cup qualification, Ecuador will travel to Red Bull Arena with a full strength team that's playing with confidence. Mexican Primera Division stars Jamie Ayovi and Christian Benitez were the scorers in their country's 2-0 win over Venezuela, while Manchester United's Antonio Valencia is also healthy, in the squad and playing well. He might not start the friendly against the United States after going 90 minutes against Venezuela, but he should make an appearance and will be a major factor if he does.

Though he missed an embarrassing sitter that can be partially chalked up to the bad weather in Miami, Brek Shea was arguably the United States' best performer in his regular left wing position. Clint Dempsey operated in a position that he is familiar with, but that he hasn't played much in with the national team as he lined up as an attacking midfielder/second striker behind Jozy Altidore. He was also fantastic, and also made a case for a man of the match award. Klinsmann could look to continue with those two players in those positions as he attempts to build some continuity, but he could opt to give both players a rest and get a look at some new blood, as his left wing and No. 10 spots seem all but set for competitive matches going forward.

In the center of midfield, the Maurice Edu-Kyle Beckerman pairing was average. While both might have a place in Klinsmann's full squad going into World Cup qualifying, neither looked worthy of starting for the first team in the roles that they played on Saturday. The long-term injuries to Stuart Holden and Jose Fransisco Torres seriously limit what Klinsmann can do with his midfield, but it was obvious on Friday that the Edu-Beckerman pairing was not the answer. Klinsmann could opt to move Saturday debutante Danny Williams into a central midfield position, and it's likely that Michael Bradley will get more time on Tuesday than he did on Saturday. Jeff Larentowicz is the other central midfielder on the roster, and he's been fantastic for the Colorado Rapids since moving there from the New England Revolution.

At the back, Klinsmann will likely have to make at least one change. His 45th minute substitution of Michael Orozco Fiscal, who played poorly both on Saturday and his previous appearance, might be indicative of Klinsmann's feelings on his current form. Fans and media alike are currently calling for Orozco Fiscal's exclusion from the starting XI, and they may get their wish. Though he may not be a long term solution at 29 years old, Oguchi Onyewu moved better than he has in a USMNT shirt than he has in any other match since his knee injury in 2009. Tim Ream of the New York Red Bulls is also on the roster and is easily the most technically gifted defender in the U.S. team, but he did not dress on Saturday.

With competitive fixtures coming up next spring, Jurgen Klinsmann is running out of time to pick his first team and getting them playing the style of football he wants to see. Ecuador will provide the USMNT with a very high quality of opposition, but not so high quality that they won't have a chance to build on what they've done so far and play their preferred style of football. It's not exactly clear what that is at this point, with the team often switching between a short passing and direct style, but Klinsmann's team can take another step towards establishing whatever footballing identity they want to establish on Tuesday.

United States vs. Ecuador

Projected United States starting XI (4-2-3-1): Howard; Chandler, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo; Edu, Bradley; Shea, Dempsey, Williams; Altidore

Ecuador's last starting XI (All players available for Tuesday): Banguera; W. Ayovi, Campos, Erazo, Paredes, Saritama, Valencia, Noboa, J. Ayovi, Suarez, Benitez

Venue: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey

Time: 7:00 pm ET

TV: ESPN2 (USA - English), Univision (USA - Spanish)


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