YA WRITER QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS
The YA panel of experts once again puts their credentials as sports psychics on the line, peering into the future to see what awaits the team in tonight's quarterfinal against Ecuador.
It's a new situation with an old foe, with the simple formula: win or pack up your bags and go home. The USA already beat Ecuador in the pre-tournament warm-up, although both teams have evolved considerably since that late-May clash.
This time the panel is split, and the majority think it will be decided one way or another in penalties.
Does the dream finally end in the Emerald City, or will the team march onto Houston?
Klinsi's got a lineup predicament on his hands thanks to the boneheaded play of DeAndre Yedlin against Paraguay. Who he decides to play there and whether that involves some shuffling around of players will be crucial in determining the outcome of this match.
Should the US coach get it right, the Americans should manage to get by Ecuador - barely. I foresee there being penalties involved.
Prediction: USA 1 - 1 Ecuador, USA wins 5-3 on PKs
What a gutsy performance by the Yanks! Brad Guzan was a wall, Dempsey scored again, and the defense did just enough to win, 1-0. The Ecuadorians though will pose a formidable threat to the US' Copa América run.
Without the suspended DeAndre Yedlin, do not expect Klinsmann to do anything fancy with his lineup. Michael Orozco should be a straight swap at right-back, leaving in place Fabian on the left, and the Cameron/Brooks pairing intact in the middle.
Prediction: USA 2 - 2 Ecuador, US win in PKs
The US have all the advantages coming into this game against Ecuador, but it will not be an easy one. The key to them winning will be shutting down the wings as Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero will certainly be threats on the right and left. Without DeAndre Yedlin in the lineup, Michael Orozco will need to step up and stifle Montero's chances to cross the ball in the area.
The real stars in this game will be the US fans in Seattle who will push the team until the final whistle.
Prediction: USA 2 - 0 Ecuador
After considerable (and correct) optimism, I'm predicting the dream finally ends with a draw at the end of 90 minutes and a shootout loss for the US. Ecuador's wingers could give the US issues, especially without Yedlin on the field to help stifle the pressure.
I hope I'm wrong.
Prediction: USA 1 - 1 Ecuador, US loses in PKs
It's true, Ecuador's front four are on a rampage and the loss of Yedlin will complicate matters. However, the chemistry that has developed in the team is fantastic, and they've had an extra day compared to Ecuador to work out the solution. Momentum, chemistry and home-field advantage are a powerful trio.
Neither team will be able to maintain a shut-out, but the American defensive unit will come through in the end. Dempsey continues to show he's still got enough gas in the tank, and a late goal resulting from the final kamikaze-style press by Ecuador seals the deal.
Prediction: USA 3 - 1 Ecuador