Ecuador cautiously optimistic for quarterfinal showdown with United States

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The opponent is a “complicated one,” but Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros is optimistic about playing the United States in the Copa America Centenario quarterfinals.

Referencing the United States' 1-0 win over Ecuador in a pre-tournament friendly in Frisco, Tex. on May 25, Quinteros said his team outplayed the Americans in the opening half hour.

“We were superior in our game,” he said after a 4-0 win over Haiti at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night booked Ecuador’s spot in the quarters. “We had some chances to create some damage.”

There were lessons learned from that friendly, in which Darlington Nagbe scored the 90th-minute winner for the United States. And for Ecuadoran defender Frickson Erazo, there’s a good basis of knowledge as to what makes Jurgen Klinsmann’s side tick.

“The United States has fast players in attack, players who can play well diagonally between central and lateral defenders. And they have too [Michael] Bradley, who runs his midfield,” Erazo said. “While the reference in the area is [Clint] Dempsey, we know those two players very well and we will try to make a very intelligent game against them.”

Perhaps no one knows the USMNT’s strengths and weaknesses better than FC Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo.

“Against the United States it will be a very difficult match,” he said. “We all know what happened to us when we played against them in Dallas. You have to be mentally prepared and not allow mistakes.”

Midfielder Christian Noboa, who had a goal and an assist in Ecuador’s big win over Haiti, said it’s important not to look too much into Ecuador’s performance in that friendly, saying his team didn’t want to “risk too much” and didn’t “give 100 percent.”

That will, of course, be different Thursday night at CenturyLink Field (9:30 pm ET, FSI). 

“It will be very difficult to face the United States in Seattle. We know they have great support from their fans there,” he said. “United States is the home team, they are the 'homeowners' here. So we have to concentrate just on soccer. We have a good team that can play with confidence against the United States.”

And if Ecuador plays as it did in a comprehensive win over Haiti, Quinteros likes his team’s chances regardless of the opponent.

“On whatever day we can play up to our potential, it doesn’t matter who we have on the pitch because we really trust in our team,” Quinteros said. “If in 90 minutes we play to our full potential, we will be most dangerous for anyone we face.”