If you didn't tune into last night's game between the United States and Ecuador, I wouldn't blame you. While England vs. Wales was on ESPN, the United States Men's National Team was pushed over to Fox Sports 1 in a match that would decide who reaches the semifinals of the Copa America tournament. I have only started really paying attention to soccer in the past couple of years, but this was a fantastic match between two very evenly matched teams. Clint Dempsey started the scoring in the 22nd minute on a beautiful header. Dempsey has proven to be one of the best players on Team USA, blowing away expectations for the MLS all star.
Unlike many soccer games, this one had some grit and nastiness to it. The United States and Ecuador are two teams that, for whatever reason, don't like each other. There were late, cheap tackles, a couple punches to the face, and, of course, flopping everywhere. After the game, players will occasionally swap jerseys and take pictures, but there was none of that after this game.
Ecuador's Antonio Valencia received a second yellow card, which, for our novice soccer fans, means he is ejected. Unfortunately, our old friend midfielder Jermaine Jones was in the face and may have lightly hit Valencia, which, in accordance with soccer rules, means that Jones would receive a red card and will miss the next match on Tuesday night in Houston, Texas.
Following Jones' ejection, Gyasi Zardes continued the American scoring parade, as the USA went up by two goals. Unfortunately, Michael Arroyo of Ecuador cut the Yanks' lead in half, but that is as close as they would get, as the United States won a hard-fought game to reach the semifinals.
Moving forward, USA will have a tough road if they want to actual win this tournament. Argentina and Lionel Messi will be facing Venezuela, as the winner will advance to meet the United States on Tuesday. The Americans will be without Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya, but at this point they are running on pure adrenaline. Look for another fantastic night against soccer's elite.