Ecuador at USA (-1), Draw (+220)
Looking ahead to June’s Copa America, Team USA will host Ecuador in a preparation game at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, tomorrow (Wednesday, May 25, 8:00 PM Eastern).
Both teams will compete in the Copa America‘s Centenario, but they’ll come in with slightly different expectations. The host Americans are fourth in the odds to win, sitting at 9/1, while Ecuador are a 33/1 longshot in the 16-team tournament. The discrepancy is despite Ecuador sitting 12th in the current FIFA rankings, while the US are well down in 29th.
Team USA’s dip in the rankings is thanks to some less than stellar results of late. After bowing out of the 2015 Gold Cup in the semis to Jamaica, the US went onto lose three of their next four to Brazil (4-1, friendly), Mexico (3-2, 2015 CONCACAF Cup), and Costa Rica (1-0, friendly). They’ve gone 2-1-1 in their last four World Cup qualifiers, but the wins came against St. Vincent and the Grenadines (6-1) and Guatemala (4-0).
The downturn has manager Jürgen Klinsmann on the hot seat, and if his squad under-performs as Copa host, the ship may have a new captain for the run-up to Russia 2018.
The problems for the US have come at both ends of the pitch. They’re defending poorly and their attacking has been disorganized. Ecuador, who sit a surprise second in WC qualifying in South America (13 points through six matches), have the ability to expose those flaws in this friendly.
The team has become road-warriors of a sort, using well-timed counterattacks to beat world power Argentina (2-0) and Venezuela (3-1) in enemy territory during the 2018 qualifiers.
The handicap has team USA at -1. Friendlies can be hard to handicap because you don’t know how motivated each side will be. Yes, the Americans will likely want to put on a show at home. But Ecuador are in top form and the Americans have been anything but. Banking on a draw or a win by the visitors looks like better value.
Pick: Ecuador +1.
(Photo Credit: IIJ Events (World Cup 2014: Brazil) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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