CHRISTOPHER MCCOLLUM - Friday, October 10, 2014
It's Landon Donovan's final game for the United States National Team before he retires at the end of this season, and a capacity crowd in East Hartford is expected to send him off.
In the first of a two game set of friendlies during this international window, Rentschler Field and the US team will play host to Ecuador on Friday night at 7:00pm EST.
Ecuador has brought a relatively inexperienced squad to the United States for their friendlies this month, with 13 players having fewer than 20 caps. It's a scouting and building mission for interim head coach Sixto Vizuete who will try to line up players for the future to reach the aspirations of a disappointed country after failing to advance in this summer's World Cup.
On the other side of the field, Landon Donovan will lead the team out of the tunnel wearing the captain's armband for the final game of his storied National Team career. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has announced that Donovan will only play 30 minutes before being subbed off, making it a short appearance for the all-time leader in goals and assists.
Saying goodbye to Donovan will be few of his cohorts from famous past rosters, with only Jozy Altidore, Brad Guzan, and Nick Rimando having spent any significant time with him in a National Team camp. The young roster selected by Klinsmann has only five out-field players with more than 15 caps, and includes five players with one cap as well as the hopeful international debut of Miguel Ibarra.
Julian Green was with the team for the first days of camp, before his nagging rib injury sustained with Hamburg forced Klinsmann to send him back to Germany to continue his recovery.
For Jurgen Klinsmann, this marks the second game since the World Cup where he can evaluate a young crop of players that will hopefully steer the team to success over the coming years of international tournaments. While the World Cup in Russia must always be on the horizon, the 2016's edition of Copa America being hosted in the United States will be the current target on the wall. The road started in a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in September, and will continue through the rest of 2014 with following games against Honduras, Australia, and Ireland before the annual January camp kicks off 2015.
There will be plenty of familiar Ecuadoran faces for the Americans on the squads, with Joao Plata, Segundo Castillo, Renato Ibarra, Walter Ayovi, Carlos Gruezo, Christian Ramirez, and Enner Valencia plying their trade in the same leagues as members of the Yank contingent.
In previous results since the World Cup, the United States is 1-0 with their victory coming over the Czech Republic, while Ecuador is 1-1 with a 4-0 victory over Bolivia in September, followed by a 1-0 loss to Brazil