United States wary of talented Ecuador in Copa America quarters - Klinsmann
SEATTLE - The United States may have avoided five-time World Cup champion Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn't taking the opponent they did get in Ecuador lightly.
"They have some special players in that side," Klinsmann said of FIFA's 13-ranked team before rattling off the names of some of Ecuador's stars, including English Premier League trio Antonio Valencia of Manchester United, Enner Valencia of West Ham and Swansea City's Jefferson Montero.
"It's a good team," added the U.S. coach.
Yet Klinsmann still likes his squad's chances of advancing at CenturyLink Field in front of the Seattle Sounders' boisterous supporters-even if he thinks the outcome could go either way for the No. 31 Americans.
"To play this game in front of the Seattle crowd is huge for us," he said. "It's a 50-50 game. Anything can happen in that game, and every little small piece can make the difference."
Klinsmann went with the same lineup in all three of the tournament hosts three group stage games, marking the first time since 1930 that the U.S. has gone with the same starting 11 in back-to-back-to back matches.
Despite losing the tourney opener to Colombia on June 3, the Americans finished atop Group A after beating Costa Rica and Paraguay. As a result, the U.S. ducked a date with the top team in Group B. That turned out to be Peru, which eliminated Brazil on Sunday night in a hugely controversial upset determined by a blatant handball that was somehow missed by officials.
Klinsmann will have to make at least one change against Ecuador. Defender DeAndre Yedlin, a Seattle native and former Sounder, is suspended for the match after picking up two yellow cards early in the second half of Saturday's 1-0 over the Paraguayans in Philadelphia.
"It's a bummer that DeAndre cannot play, but I'm not worried because I know whoever plays instead of him will get his job done, will give everything he has," Klinsmann said.
The coach wouldn't let on who Yedlin's replacement might be.
"No, I'm not going into details about that, if you don't mind," he said, eliciting laughter from reporters. "We're working on it."
Still, veteran defender Michael Orozco is the clear favorite to fill Yedlin's role at right back. Orozco manned the spot for the final 40 minutes in Philly, helping the shorthanded Yanks keep the clean sheet.
"If I get the chance to play I'm going to do as best as I can," Orozco said.
Whoever gets the nod in Yedlin's place, Klinsmann said all of his players must be ready to perform in the high-profile, do-or-die match.
"I think the players realizing that there's everything to play for," he said. "This is the stage you want to be at as a player. This is where you define your value in the global soccer community. This is where you're getting watched -- if you want to get watched -- from the top clubs in the world. They're going to watch and analyze every game at the Euros and they're going to watch and analyze every game at the Copa America.
Klinsmann added: "So this is the platform for a player that you want to be at, so take that opportunity. This is what I'll tell them."
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.