In a pre-game interview just before kickoff Wednesday night against Ecuador, ESPN's Taylor Twellman asked U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to name a player in each position who had the most to gain this summer. In midfield, he picked Darlington Nagbe.
Perhaps Nagbe can hear through walls.
Entering as a second-half substitute, he brought energy, skill and dynamism to the MNT attack, and the effort was rewarded with the last-minute winner when he finished off some fine work from DeAndre Yedlin and Bobby Wood.
"It felt great," said Nagbe of his first goal for the United States. "I’ve been wanting my first goal to come, and in a big game like this before Copa America against a good team, I was happy it was in this game.”
Of his efforts in Ecuador's attacking half, he said that Klinsmann has been encouraging all of his midfielders to play a bigger role.
“He just wants me to get on the ball, same as all," Nagbe said. "For all of his midfielders, he just us to get on the ball and continue to get possession and help create."
One youngster who also heeded those words was former PA Classics midfielder Christian Pulisic. The 17-year-old showed poise, confidence and a clean touch in his 27 minutes on the park. Entering only his second match for the senior team, he said Klinsmann's instructions were simple.
“He said to just be dangerous and go do what I do," Pulisic offered. "Of course I have to help the team and try to make a difference in the game.”
As he continues to get integrated into the group, Pulisic is here to contribute however he can going into this huge tournament.
“We have 23 very strong players," he said. "Of course everyone wants to start and that’s the goal, but I just want to be successful with the team. Whether that’s starting or coming off the bench, that’s fine by me. It’s the coach’s decision and I’m just happy to be here.”
FRISCO, Texas (May 25, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team used Darlington Nagbe’s 90th minute strike and first international goal to earn a 1-0 victory against Ecuador in its second warm-up match ahead of the upcoming Copa America Centenario. [TICKETS].
After a first half that lacked chances, the MNT controlled the run of play in the second half, as Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya both had opportunities to find the score sheet. Just as it looked like the game would end in a 0-0 deadlock, Nagbe finished headed pass from Bobby Wood in the penalty area to tally his first international goal and give the U.S. a 1-0 victory.
The MNT continues preparations for this summer’s Copa America Centenario on Sat., May 28 when it meets a second South American foe in Bolivia at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on FS1, UniMas and UDN [TICKETS].
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Darlington Nagbe (Bobby Wood), 90th minute: DeAndre Yedlin did well to earn space on the right before seeing his initial cross headed up in the area by Ecuador’s Juan Carlos Paredes. Substitute forward Bobby Wood kept the second ball alive, winning an aerial battle to knock down for Nagbe who took the ball of his chest before finishing inside Esteban Dreer’s right post for the game’s lone goal. USA 1, ECU 0 [WATCH] FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Brad Guzan, 7th minute: A headed clearance from Steve Birnbaum fell to Jefferson Montero on the left side of the area. The Ecuador attacker took the ball in stride before hitting a low blast that deflected off Birnbaum and towards the lower left post where Guzan got down with a big hand to turn the ball out for a corner kick.
USA – John Brooks, 14th minute: Catching the U.S. in transition, Miller Bolaños played a clever through ball for Enner Valencia into space, but John Brooks tracked the run before coming through with a well-timed tackle in the box to put the ball out for a corner kick.
ECU – Esteban Dreer, 59th minute: After receiving a through ball at the top of the box, Jermaine Jones hit a blinding effort that saw substitute ‘keeper Esteban Dreer receive his first test, standing tall behind the powerful shot.
Next on the Schedule: The MNT hosts Bolivia in its last international friendly before Copa America Centenario at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan. on Saturday, May 28 (7 p.m. CT; FS1, UniMas, UDN) [TICKETS].
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- Clint Dempsey made his 123rd international appearance, tying him with DaMarcus Beasley for fifth on the MNT’s all-time caps list. He sits four back of Marcelo Balboa (127) for fourth place.
- Darlington Nagbe scored his first international goal, coming in his fifth international appearance.
- The win improves the MNT’s all-time record against Ecuador to 3-5-5.
- With the result, the MNT remains unbeaten in Frisco, Texas, holding a 2-0-2 all-time record at Toyota Stadium.
- Named the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. at Copa America Centenario, goalkeeper Brad Guzan earned his 14th career shutout and second of 2016.
- The USA has scored in the 89th minute or later in four of five matches this year with all four matches ending up in the win column: Steve Birnbaum vs. Iceland; Jozy Altidore vs. Canada and vs. Guatemala; Nagbe vs. Ecuador
- MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann started a back four consisting of DeAndre Yedlin at right back, Steve Birnbaum and John Brooks as the central pair and Fabian Johnson on the left.
- The midfield trio featured Jermaine Jones on the right, Kyle Beckerman in the holding central role and captain Michael Bradley on the left.
- Klinsmann deployed a three-man forward line that positioned Clint Dempsey as the central striker, with Graham Zusi and Gyasi Zardes deployed on the right and left, respectively.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Ecuador
Date: May 25, 2016
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Weather: 84 degrees, cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
ECU 0 0 0
USA – Darlington Nagbe (Bobby Wood) 90th minute
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Steve Birnbaum, 6-John Brooks (5-Matt Besler, 78), 23-Fabian Johnson; 15-Kyle Beckerman (10-Darlington Nagbe, 46), 19-Graham Zusi (14-Michael Orozco, 87), 13-Jermaine Jones (11-Alejandro Bedoya, 64), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 9-Gyasi Zardes (7-Bobby Wood, 46), 8-Clint Dempsey (17-Christian Pulisic, 63)
Subs not used: 12-Tim Howard, 22-William Yarbrough, 16-Perry Kitchen, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Kellyn Acosta
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
ECU: 22-Alexander Domínguez (12-Esteban Dreer, 46); 4-Juan Carlos Paredes, 3-Frickson Erazo, 21-Gabriel Achilier (20-Robert Arboleda, 73), 5-Cristian Ramirez; 6-Christian Noboa (capt.) (8-Fernando Gaibor, 69), 18-Carlos Gruezo (15-Pedro Larrea, 59), 14-Angel Mena, 7-Jefferson Montero (11-Michael Arroyo, 64); 13-Enner Valencia, 23-Miller Bolaños (19-Juan Cazares, 68)
Subs not used: 1-Maximo Banguera, 9-Fidel Martinez, 17-Jaime Ayovi, 24-Mario Pineida
Head coach: Gustavo Quinteros
Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 5 / 3
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 6
Fouls: 16 / 16
Offside: 0 / 2
ECU – Gabriel Achilier (caution) 22nd minute
USA – Jermaine Jones (caution) 26
ECU – Cristian Ramirez (caution) 35
ECU – Angel Mena (caution) 45
Referee: Alfredo Penaloza (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Mario Lopez Carrillo (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Andres Hernandez (MEX)
4th Official: Oscar Macias (MEX)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Darlington Nagbe
Lineup Notes: MNT vs. Ecuador
#USAvECU Starting Lineup Notes
- 4-3-3 (right to left: Brad Guzan; DeAndre Yedlin, Steve Birnbaum, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson; Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley (capt.); Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes
- Fabian Johnson starts at left back tonight. He made six appearances at that spot in 2015, including in the 2-1 win against World Cup champion Germany on June 10 in Cologne
- Brad Guzan has been named the No. 1 goalkeeper for Copa America Centenario. He has a 10-4-4 record in official competitions, which include World Cup qualifying, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup and Copa America
- Clint Dempsey has 49 career goals, good for second on the USA's all-time scoring list. He's also the leading capwinner on the roster with 122 appearances
- Jermaine Jones returns to the fold for the first time since January. Since joining the Rapids, he has tallied three goals in six games
- DeAndre Yedlin makes his third straight start at right back. He had a stellar second half of the campaign at Sunderland, helping the Black Cats keep their place in the Premier League for next season
- Graham Zusi gets his second start of the year, having scored the third goal in the USA's 4-0 win against Guatemala in World Cup qualifying on March 29 in Columbus
- Steve Birnbaum also started in that game, manning the central defense alongside Geoff Cameron. Birnbaum notably scored the game-winning goal in the 90th minute against Iceland on Jan. 31
The primary goal of the United States Soccer Federation is to grow the game of soccer in the United States. To help accomplish that, we begin a new series today called On Location to share the stories of soccer all over our country leading up to U.S. MNT and WNT domestic competition matches. Today, we highlight the success of FC Dallas’ impressive Development Academy initiative ahead of the MNT’s match against Ecuador in Frisco tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
For the past nine years, FC Dallas has been at the forefront of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy initiative, which was established in 2007 with the ultimate goal of identifying and developing world-class players.
Launched in 2008, the FC Dallas Academy has become a model for other clubs to follow, not only because of its success in churning out pro players – which includes 14 signed to the FCD pro team – but also for the philosophy created to identify and groom young talent.
With a complex that features 17 fields just beyond the gates to the club’s soccer-specific stadium, FCD Academy players have been afforded the same environment and facilities as the professionals. Under the guidance of first team head coach Oscar Pareja, who in 2008 helped launch the Academy as the club’s Director of Player Development, the Academy is also fully integrated with the first team.
“At this point our academies need competition, and competition means facing players with different maturity, day-in and day-out,” Pareja said. “So involving them with the first team is a priority.”
The program is geared towards advancing the individual player, encouraging creativity and free play. Academy players are selected regularly to train with the pro team, providing the kids not only a measuring stick of where they are, but also an opportunity to learn from players and to be treated as a professional. The consistent training and learning has in turn resulted in successful Academy teams. The FCD U-18 & U-16 teams have made the Academy playoffs in every season, and have won the 2012 U-18 and 2015 U-16 National Championships.
Some 30 FC Dallas Academy players have also represented the youth national teams of the United States, Canada or Mexico. One of them is fourth-year FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who in January became the 17th player in Academy history to make his MNT debut when he played against Iceland.
“It was always a dream of mine to become a professional soccer player, so that was the closest step for me – being in the FC Dallas Academy,” said Acosta, who is from Plano, Texas. “Seeing the pros next door, it showed me that I was one step closer to becoming like them. My teammates would get asked to go train with the pro team, and then I got the privilege to also go. It helped my development tremondously, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Pareja, who before assuming the FCD Academy post was an assistant coach for the U-17 MNT, has great appreciation for the club’s role in preparing youth players for the next steps in their careers.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” Pareja said. “We have a responsibility to the first team and the community that they belong to. The responsibility is tremendous because you are the link to the national teams, and to different leagues. Providing a good environment for the selected players is crucial.”
And it’s not just the players who benefit. Pareja also insists on Academy coaches attending both the pro team’s training sessions and to be on the bench during pro matches. As well, Academy coaches interact with the rest of the FCD youth structure.
Complement the three U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams, the FC Dallas Youth Club, which features over 100 boys and girls teams ranging from U-11 to U-19 with over 1700 players, and the FC Dallas Juniors Program, which has over 700 boys and girls players from U-7 to U-10.
But for Pareja, the reason for the club’s youth success can’t be pinned on one aspect.
“FC Dallas has developed a family atmosphere,” Pareja said. “Our ownership believes in the process, the front office works very hard to promote our club, we have coaches who have developed here, and we have players who have tremendous love for the club. All this creates a scenario that makes FC Dallas very special.”
We should note that this endeavor is not the first time Dallas has been a pioneer in the growth of soccer in the U.S.
In 1967, visionary Lamar Hunt co-founded the professional soccer team known as the Dallas Tornado in a league that was the precursor to the original North American Soccer League. From 1968 to 1984, the NASL was the top-division league in the country, and the Tornado were the longest-serving team.
The U.S. Men's National Team trains ahead its series of friendlies in preparation for the Copa America Centenario against Ecuador in Frisco, Texas on May 25 at Toyota Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, UniMas and Univision Deportes Network.
Following tonight’s match, the MNT will host Bolivia on May 28 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (7 p.m. CT; FS1 and Univision networks) [TICKETS].Read more