By FRANCO PANIZO
HARRISON, N.J. – The U.S. men's national team saw an all too familiar game play itself out against Ecuador.
For the third time in five games, the Americans created chances but had nothing to show for it, falling 1-0 to Ecuador in front of 20,707 supporters at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday night.
Second half substitute Jaime Ayovi netted the game's lone goal, rising above U.S. substitute Tim Ream to head the ball past Tim Howard and into the back of the net.
"They played a brilliant first half, created lots of chances, didn't score, but didn't allow anything for Ecuador at all there," said head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who is now 1-3-1 as head coach of the U.S. team. "Then we had to make some changes … Ecuador, second half, got better into the game and created some chances but never really any threat for Tim Howard, so he never really had anything to do in that game besides that one beautiful goal that they scored."
Playing in a 4-1-3-2 formation, the United States began the game well, creating a chance in the opening seconds when Jozy Altidore got on the end of a quick throw in. Altidore then took a shot on goal, but Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera got down to make the save.
The United States nearly scored in the fifth minute as well, as Danny Williams fed Brek Shea for an open look. Shea unleashed a hard shot that Banguera was able to knock away for a U.S. corner.
Two minutes later, the United States had another chance, but left back Timmy Chandler's shot from just outside the penalty area went wide by inches.
"We came out and wanted to play," said Shea, who was replaced at halftime. "We wanted to do well and to come out and create chances. I think we did that."
Ecuador settled after the early chances and began to control possession a little more. But aside from Steve Cherundolo having trouble with the speed of Jefferson Montero on a handful of occasions, the Americans held their own defensively in the opening 45 minutes.
Chandler and Oguchi Onyewu, who started in his first game under Klinsmann, were two of the bright spots defensively for the Americans, with Chandler shutting down Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia and Onyewu continuing to show that he's back to top form.
"We saw many, many good things in that game. Starting maybe with (Onyewu) in the back, he's back. Maybe that's the easiest way to say it," said Klinsmann. "It's awesome to see. He's getting his rhythm; his presence is amazing and really good to watch.
"You see a Timmy Chandler at left back, he didn't allow Valencia not even one thing," said Klinsmann. "You're talking about a player that plays at Man. United and is a very, very good player, but you couldn't see him at all because Timmy Chandler closed him completely down."
The second half was a different story, as Ecuador was able to find a rhythm and hold the ball for longer stretches against a U.S. team that made four substitutions at halftime.
That played a role in the United States' struggles to create chances, as it took them midway into the half to create a quality opportunity.
"We lost a little bit of our rhythm after making so many changes," said Clint Dempsey.
Ecuador took advantage of that and went up in the 79th minute when Ayovi beat Ream to the ball and headed it into the back of the net following a cross from the left flank from his brother, captain Walter Ayovi.
Desperate for an equalizer, the Americans sent numbers forward but never found a goal.
The result marked the Americans' third shutout loss since Klinsmann took over.
What do you think of the United States' loss to Ecuador? Who impressed/disappointed you? Wondering what cure is out there for the U.S. team's scoring woes?
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