midfielder Darlington Nagbe takes a shot and scores in front
of Ecuador's Christian Ramirez (5) during the second half of
an exhibition soccer match, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in
Frisco, Texas. The United States won 1-0.
FRISCO, Texas — Darlington
Nagbe's first international goal was a lift for the United States
in its next-to-last tuneup before hosting next month's Copa
Nagbe scored on a 90th-minute
volley, and the U.S. beat Ecuador 1-0 in an exhibition Wednesday
night for just its third win in 21 games against South American
teams over the past nine years. The U.S. had 14 losses and four
draws in that span.
Born in Liberia, Nagbe was making
his fifth international appearance following his debut in
November, made shortly after he became a U.S. citizen.
"It gives you a lot of
confidence," Nagbe said. "To come out here and have a
little bit of the ball and create some chances and get a goal and
get the win, it's good."
The No. 29 Americans face Bolivia
on Saturday in an exhibition at Kansas City, Kansas, then open the
tournament against fourth-ranked Colombia on June 3 at Santa
After a listless first half, the
U.S. attack improved with the entry of Nagbe and Bobby Wood after
the break and of 17-year-old Christian Pulisic in the 63rd minute.
The goal developed after Alejandro
Bedoya dribbled down the right flank and cut the ball back to
DeAndre Yedlin. He beat a defender and crossed into the penalty
area, where Juan Carlos Paredes at the 6-yard box tried to clear
with a header.
Wood outjumped Robert Arboleda not
far from the penalty spot and headed a pass to Nagbe. The
25-year-old midfielder chested the ball and, while falling,
volleyed a right-footed shot from about 8 yards past Esteban Dreer,
who replaced injured starter Alexander Dominguez when the second
"It says that Darlington
understands the moment in time," said U.S. coach Jurgen
Klinsmann said. "He knows that he has to push the envelope.
He knows that he's a couple of years late for us because he
couldn't play before that. So he's not a youngster anymore."
Dempsey, who grew up in the East
Texas town of Nacogdoches but trained in the Dallas area as a
youth, didn't have many other chances on the same field where he
scored twice in a CONCACAF Gold Cup-opening win over Honduras last
American goalkeeper Brad Guzan,
starting ahead of Tim Howard, was rarely tested by Ecuador, which
was missing Antonio Valencia following last weekend's FA Cup final
and left back Walter Ayovi, who is with Monterrey for Liga MX
playoff game at Pachuca on Thursday.
"They didn't really create a
whole lot, and I think that was a testament to the work of the
guys in front of me," Guzan said. "Tonight was a taste
of what we're going to probably experience in the next couple of
weeks. It was good not only to get a clean sheet, but I think it
was really important in terms of getting a result."
After Sunday's 3-1 win at Puerto
Rico, the U.S. starting lineup turned over with the addition of
seven players who had been with their Major League Soccer teams
last weekend: central defender Steve Birnbaum, midfielders Kyle
Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, and Dempsey flanked by
Zusi and Zardes in the attack.
In addition, Fabian Johnson played
the entire match at left back after recovering from a groin
injury, his first game action since April 24 with Borussia
Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga.
"I thought defensively was a
very, very good game," Klinsmann said. "It just helps
us, the learning curve in a short amount of time with these two
games to give the guys a feeling of what they can expect in the
With Geoff Cameron nursing an
injured groin sustained in Stoke's season finale on May 15,
Birnbaum was paired in the center of the defense with John Brooks.
Klinsmann coached against Ecuador's
Gustavo Quinteros, 22 years after the former German star played in
the World Cup against Quinteros, who was born in Argentina and
Ecuador opens Copa America against
Brazil on June 4 at Pasadena, California.