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Global Mar 22, 2019

Gyasi Zardes nets late goal as U.S. MNT blanks Ecuador 1-0

ORLANDO (Via U.S. Soccer) — The U.S. Men’s National Team used an 81st minute strike from Gyasi Zardes to earn a 1-0 victory against Ecuador in front of 17,442 fans at Orlando City Stadium. With the win, Gregg Berhalter became the second MNT head coach to begin his tenure with three straight victories.

After controlling the flow of much of the match, the USA found the game-winner through Zardes, who collected a pass from Tim Ream about 25 yards from goal. Zardes unleashed an effort that took a wicked deflection off Ecuador defender Robert Arboleda and looped over ‘keeper Alexander Domínguez. The goal was the seventh of Zardes’ international career and first since scoring the game-winner in a 2-1 victory against Ecuador in the Copa America Centernario quarterfinals on June 16, 2016 in Seattle.

Controlling much of the first half possession, the USA came close to scoring in the 25th minute. Receiving a ball in the penalty area, Christian Pulisic laid off a pass for Paul Arriola on the left, but the winger’s first-time effort was turned away well by Ecuador ‘keeper Alexander Domínguez.

+READ: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team roster set for friendlies in Spain

The USA looked to have gone ahead five minutes later when Weston McKennie made a line-breaking pass for Jordan Morris on the right. He centered for Zardes, who touched the ball into the path off Arriola to finish from close range, but linesman Philippe Briere ruled that Morris was just offside on the original pass.

In a match where USA goalkeeper Sean Johnson was left with little to do – Ecuador was limited by the U.S. defense to a single shot on goal – the MNT continued to control the flow of play in the second half, connecting well on passes, but coming up short with the final product. Defensively, Weston McKennie and Aaron Long combined well to thwart a dangerous counter attack from Renato Ibarra in the 52nd minute to help keep the team’s third-straight clean sheet.

The MNT continues its march towards the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup against another South American foe, taking on Chile on Tuesday, March 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Kickoff is set for 7:55 p.m. ET with ESPN2, UniMas and UDN covering the action.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Gyasi Zardes (Tim Ream), 81
st minute:
After collecting a pass from Tim Ream about 25 yards from goal, Zardes turned with space and dribbled towards goal before unleashing a shot that deflected off Ecuador defender Robert Arboleda and looped over ‘keeper Alexander Domínguez. USA 1, ECU 0 [WATCH] FINAL

Key Save and Defensive Plays:
ECU – Beder Caicedo, 6th minute: After a number of connected passes in midfield, Christian Pulisic collected the ball at the top of the area and threaded a pass to Tyler Adams on the right. The full back alertly sent in a low cross, but Caicedo slid through at the end line to put it out for a corner kick.

ECU – Alexander Domínguez, 26th minute: Gyasi Zardes and Weston McKennie connected well on a combination at the top of the box before the latter slipped a ball through to Pulisic at the penalty spot. The MNT attacker slid it to Paul Arriola in stride on the left, but his effort was thwarted as Domínguez came bravely off his line to thwart the effort.

USA – Aaron Long and Weston McKennie, 52nd minute: Ecuador forced a turnover and quickly transitioned into attack with Jhegson Méndez sending Romario Ibarra into space with only Long in his way. Long worked to slow down the run and McKennie made an 80-yard jaunt to track back before the duo forced Ibarra outside and cleared the ball for a throw in.

Additional Notes:

  • Along with remaining unbeaten (3-0-0), the USA has not conceded a goal in the three matches under head coach Gregg Berhalter. The record for most consecutive shutouts at the beginning of an MNT coaching tenure is held by Alkis Panagoulias, who guided the team to four straight clean sheets from 1983-84.
  • With tonight’s win Gregg Berhalter follows Bob Bradley as just the second MNT head coach to win each of his first three matches.
  • The MNT Starting XI had an average age of 25 years, 268 days and 20 caps.
  • Seven players earned their first caps of 2019: Starters Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Weston McKennie, Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Tim Ream and substitute DeAndre Yedlin
  • Making his 27th appearance, veteran defender Tim Ream captained the MNT for the first time.
  • Midfielders Wil Trapp and Weston McKennie departed the match due to injury.
  • Forward Jordan Morris made his first MNT appearance since recovering from a torn right ACL suffered with Seattle Sounders FC last February. The 24-year-old last played for the USA in a 0-0 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28, 2018 in Carson, Calif.
  • A product of the nearby University of Central Florida, goalkeeper Sean Johnson kept his third career clean sheet in his seventh cap for the MNT.
  • Having come through U.S. Soccer’s U-17 MNT Residency Program together, the match marked the first time the 20-year-old trio of Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic started a match together.
  • With the MNT dressing 20 players, Omar Gonzalez, Jesse Gonzalez, Nick Lima and Christian Ramirez are healthy scratches from the gameday roster. Teams were allowed six substitutions tonight.
  • The USA improves to 5-5-5 all-time against Ecuador and 2-0-0 at Orlando City Stadium.

– U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ecuador
Date: March 21, 2019
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Orlando City Stadium; Orlando, Fla.
Attendance: 17,422
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Weather: 66 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                             0          1          1
ECU                            0          0          0

USA – Gyasi Zardes (Tim Ream)                  81st minute

USA: 1-Sean Johnson; 14-Tyler Adams, 23-Aaron Long, 5-John Brooks, 13-Tim Ream; 6-Wil Trapp (4-Michael Bradley, 59’), 8-Weston McKennie (15-Cristian Roldan, 68’), 10-Christian Pulisic (17-Sebastian Lletget, 62’); 11-Jordan Morris (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 68’), 9-Gyasi Zardes, 7-Paul Arriola (18-Jonathan Lewis, 77’)
Substitutes not used: 22-Ethan Horvath, 16-Daniel Lovitz, 19-Matt Miazga, 20-Corey Baird
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter

ECU: 22-Alexander Domínguez; 4-Juan Carlos Paredes, 21-Gabriel Achiller (capt.), 3-Robert Arboleda, 13-Beder Caicedo; 8-Carlos Gruezo, 20-Jhegson Méndez, 18-Jefferson Orejuela, 16-Antonio Valencia, 5-Renato Ibarra (9-Leonardo Campana, 46’); 7-Romario Ibarra (19-Jhohan Jullo, 71’)
Substitutes not used: 1-Maximo Banguera, 12-Pedro Ortiz, 2-Cristian Ramirez, 6-Cristhian Noboa, 10-Ángel Mena, 14-Xavier Arreaga, 15-Jefferson Intriago, 17-Ángelo Preciado, 23- Jackson Porozo
Head coach: Hernan Dario Gomez

Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 5 / 1
Shots on Goal: 2 / 0
Saves: 0 / 1
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls:  7 / 4
Offside: 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Paul Arriola (caution)                          56th minute
ECU – Jhohan Jullo (caution)                         90+3

Referee: David Gantar (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Philippe Briere (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Barwegen (CAN)
4th Official: Adonai Escobedo (MEX) Man of the Match: John Brooks