Copa America 2016 sees the United States take on Ecuador tonight. The U.S. has been on quite a run, coming out on top for Group A on strong defense anchored by John Brooks. The young defender could help the U.S. team bust out of the quarterfinals and please the soccer-hungry U.S. fans in tonight’s match in Seattle. Another great team performance can seal a victory over Ecuador, just like how the U.S. beat Ecuador in a practice match before the competition officially started.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 15, 2016
John Brooks came off the bench to score the winning goal against Ghana at the World Cup, and now he has matured into a starting player. The process isn’t over, and Coach Jurgen Klinsmann told the Boston Globe how his game is improving.
“He’s getting calmer. He’s becoming more mature communicating with the whole back line. As a center back you need to keep a high level of aggressiveness because you are there to intimidate those strikers. So he does all those little things better and better. Doesn’t mean he is perfect, but he is really maturing his game and it’s fun for us coaches to watch.”
Brooks is only 23-years-old and has time to grow. But a U.S. victory at Copa America 2016 would be a growth spurt. The United States has only reached the semifinals once before. The only team able to score on the U.S. in earlier games was Columbia, who beat the U.S. 2-0, and one of those goals was a penalty kick. Otherwise the U.S. has simply dominated their opponents.
— FOX (@FOXTV) June 16, 2016
Defense has been the obvious factor, with Brooks leading a defense that has been ruining tournament hopes for all teams they have faced. This has allowed Clint Dempsey and others the breathing room to kick in goals and remind other country’s teams who is the host of this tournament.
That first match against Ecuador was a low energy affair in Frisco, Texas. It was just a friendly warm up bout, though the almost 10,000 fans in attendance might have made it seem otherwise. Ecuador was without some of their top players, and the energy level didn’t reflect what they are likely to bring to a quarterfinals match.
Jurgen Klinsmann gave his thoughts to Fox Sports on why a match against Ecuador this time will require more effort from the U.S. soccer team.
“It’s not the same team that we played a couple weeks ago.”
He went on to name some of Ecuador’s power players who will be present tonight when he spoke with Fox Sports.
“Antonio Valencia is there, Walter Ayovi is there. But still it was a good test for us that we can play with them and compete with them. It’s going to be a very even game. It’s going to be a fight until the very last moment. It might go to a penalty shootout and hopefully we’ll be prepared for that also.”
Ecuador tied Brazil and Peru in the first two weeks of play, and then beat Haiti by four goals, the same amount that the United States beat Costa Rica by. But Ecuador played in Group B. It’s hard to compare their performance there with what teams the U.S. had to face in Group A. That’s what will make this quarterfinals fairly unpredictable.
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 15, 2016
Other matches scheduled for Copa America’s 2016 quarterfinals besides tonight’s match include tomorrow’s tangle between Peru and Columbia, and Saturday’s games where Argentina takes on Venezuela while Mexico faces Chile later in the night.
It’s been 100 years since Copa America first started, but it’s just the first time the United States has been the host. If the U.S. can come out of this the winner, or at least make it into the semifinals, Copa America 2016 might finally spark a larger interest in stateside professional soccer — if it hasn’t already.
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