U.S., Ecuador begin knockout stage in Seattle

U.S., Ecuador begin knockout stage in Seattle

Very few pundits predicted the U.S. men’s national team’s rise to the top of Group A. Can America keep exceeding expectations as the knockout portion of the Copa America tourney arrives, though?

According to handicappers, that’s a fairly good gamble. Online sports book Bovada.lv pegs Jurgen Klinsmann’s crew as a 1.5-goal favorite entering tonight’s clash against Ecuador. La Tri, meanwhile, symbolizes a +180 underdog. The over/under goal total currently rests at two.

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Several weeks ago, the USMNT dropped its Centenario opener to Colombia. Subsequent victories vs. Paraguay and Costa Rica, however, got people talking. Klinsmann started the same 11 in each of the three first-round tilts, much to the delight of Stars and Stripes enthusiasts.

Such a luxury won’t be available this evening. DeAndre Yedlin received a second-half red card Saturday in Philadelphia, so that ensures tinkering with respect to the back four. Will Fabian Johnson move from left back to right back? Could Michael Orozco net the primary responsibility of shadowing Swansea City winger Jefferson Montero? Thankfully, Klinsmann has numerous options.

Perhaps most importantly, of course, Clint Dempsey and Gyasi Zardes must continue to make waves up front. Ecuador is FIFA’s 13th-ranked squad in the world, so we’re talking about a legitimate test for the Americans. Expect them to seize the stage at CenturyLink Field and set up a likely semifinal showdown with Argentina.

THURSDAY COPA AMERICA FREE PICK: UNITED STATES/ECUADOR OVER 2 GOALS

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