Copa America preparation rolls on. With a 3-1 friendly win over Puerto Rico under its belt, the USA Men’s National Team can really start to gel as the full 23-man roster convenes in Dallas. The next friendly in line before the Copa America starts is against a much sterner test in Ecuador.
The 23-man US roster for the Copa America was announced on Saturday at halftime of the 7-0 Hudson River Beatdown (that’s New York Red Bulls vs. New York City FC). There were not really any earth shattering surprises on here but there were one or two mild shocks. The biggest of them was the omission of Seattle Sounders youngster Jordan Morris in favor of San Jose Earthquakes veteran Chris Wondolowski. Jozy Altidore was not included as he has been sidelined for six to eight weeks with yet another hamstring injury (his fifth since 2011). Another surprising inclusion is that of Timmy Chandler, who was yet to fully translate his good club form from Germany to international duty with the US. USMNT Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann seems to have finally settled the goalkeeping dispute, naming Brad Guzan as the starter for the tournament. Borussia Dortmund wunderkind Christian Pulisic has also been included. All the rest of the usual suspects of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones (who is having an outstanding year for the surprise package Colorado Rapids) and DeAndre Yedlin have all been named.
The US was somewhat underwhelming against Puerto Rico on Sunday. The field was awful and it was a makeshift team, but many expected the US to do much better than 3-1 scoreline against a team ranked 152nd in the world. Bobby Wood did well, scoring his fifth international goal and he seems to have carried his fine club form over to the US camp. However, the US will need to play much better in the next two friendlies and once the Copa America starts if they want to go deep into the tournament. With the full complement of players now available, that looks like a much more realistic possibility.
Ecuador comes into this game having not yet won a game in 2016 (losing one and drawing one). They failed to advance out of the group stage at the 2015 Copa America but closed 2015 on a high winning their last six games. They currently sit second in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualification standings, tied with Uruguay with 13 points but behind them on goal difference. Ecuador has also announced their 23 man roster for the Copa America (they are in group B with Brazil, Peru and Haiti). The roster includes four players who play in the English Premier League (Juan Carlos Paredes at Watford, Antonio Valencia at Manchester United, Jefferson Montero at Swansea City and Enner Valencia at West Ham United) plus one player who plays in MLS (Carlos Gruezo at FC Dallas).