Ecuador were pegged as one of the two favorites to advance from Group B, but find themselves in a win or go home situation heading into Sunday’s finale vs. Haiti. Les Grenadiers, meanwhile, have been eliminated from the tournament after dropping their first two decisions, but will be more than eager to give their country more to cheer about after they scored a first-ever Copa America goal to salvage a measure of pride in a 7-1 loss to Brazil.
Putting it all together
Ecuador have as fearsome a front four as any team in the Copa America, save for maybe Argentina, and we finally saw them click after a rough opening stanza against Peru. Premier League vets Antonio Valencia, Jefferson Montero and Enner Valencia joined forces with Miller Bolaños, perhaps the greatest post-Chivas USA success story, to put together some truly enticing moves and lead a two goal comeback. Though they are coming up against a weaker opponent in Haiti, they will need to draw on all their skill and guile against an opponent that will test them physically and pack numbers inside the box.
Heads held high
The scoreline may have made for ugly reading by the end of Haiti’s loss to Brazil, but after former Portland Timbers man James Marcelin found the net vs. one of the world’s premier teams, the Caribbean side will be looking to go one better and earn their first point at a Copa America. It’ll be a tall order, but you can’t help but see a great underdog story in the making for the team representing the poorest nation in the Americas.
MLS followers will also be wondering if they’ll get a chance to see midfielder Soni Mustivar, one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for Sporting Kansas City, but yet to get off the bench in two games for Haiti.
US fans, keep an eye out
This game, along with the Brazil-Peru kickoff immediately after, will almost certainly have implications for the United States, should the US advance on Saturday.
The scenarios for Group B may get a little tricky, but we’ll start by getting this out of the way. A loss or a draw for Ecuador against Haiti will knock them out, full stop, as they have two points as opposed to four for Brazil and Peru. A win for Haiti would put them on three points, also not good enough to advance.
Should Ecuador win and one of Peru or Brazil win their game, then Ecuador would go through in second place with the winner of the late game going through in first.
If Ecuador win, and Peru and Brazil draw, then it gets tricky, as three teams would all have five points. Goal differential is the first tiebreaker, with Ecuador at 0, Peru at +1 and Brazil at +6 after two games. That means, if Ecuador win by two or more and Peru and Brazil tie, Ecuador would go through ahead of Peru, but would need to win by six or seven goals to claim first place from Brazil. But if Ecuador (who have scored two goals so far) win by just one goal, Peru (who have scored three) would just have to score the same number of goals in their tie as Ecuador would in their one-goal win to go through on the second tiebreaker, which is goals scored.
What does this mean for the US? If can avoid defeat against Paraguay, it will in all likelihood mean a second-place finish in Group A (all the scenarios here) and a match-up against the winner of this group. Brazil look like the odds-on favorite for now, but Peru could snatch it with a win, and Ecuador only if things really break their way.