FOOTBALL: Zardes’s late goal hands U.S. a 1-0 win vs. Ecuador in Orlando

U.S. striker Gyasi Zardes

It was only a friendly, but the third game for the U.S. men’s National Team under new coach Gregg Berhalter was another win, this time a 1-0 victory over a mostly passive Ecuador team before 17,442 spectators in Orlando, Florida.

The first half was scoreless, although Paul Arriola scored a goal that was waved off as the U.S. was called offsides, and another Arriola chance was stopped by Ecuadorian keeper Alexander Dominguez.

The U.S. keep trying in the second half, but the packed-in Ecuador defense yielded nothing. A series of substitutes around the 70-minute mark made the game a little more open, but the game changed very suddenly on a bad clearance.

The U.S. took possession at midfield and a Tim Ream pass into the middle found Gyasi Zardes and he rolled toward the top of the box and let loose with a right-footed shot that deflected off Ecuador defender Robert Arboleda and popped into the air like an infield fly ball in baseball. It barely grazed the underside of the crossbar and behind Dominguez for a goal.

It was hardly a masterpiece, but Dominguez’s error in the 81st minute proved to be the difference. The U.S. ended with five shots on goal to just one for Ecuador.

The U.S. defense showed some weakness on a couple of Ecuador possessions, but no damage was done and American keeper Sean Johnson managed to complete the shutout.

For Zardes, his last goal for the U.S. also came against Ecuador, back in 2016 in the Copa America.

The U.S. will finish its two-game series of friendlies next Tuesday against Chile in Houston.