Darlington Nagbe wasn’t in the starting lineup on Wednesday night for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but he made the most of the 45 minutes he was given, delivering the winning play in the final minute of regulation.
Nagbe netted the game-winning goal in the game’s waning moments, leading the USMNT to a 1-0 victory over Ecuador on Wednesday night in Frisco, Texas. The win is the USMNT’s second in as many pre-Copa America friendlies following Sunday’s 3-1 toppling of Puerto Rico.
The defining moment came in the 90th minute, when DeAndre Yedlin dribbled into the penalty area and floated a dangerous cross headed into the air by Ecuador. The loose ball fell to Bobby Wood, who headed it to a wide-open Nagbe, who calmly chested the ball and volleyed from close range for his first national team goal.
Throughout the second half, the USMNT proved the more dangerous side and created several chances against the previously-stout Ecuador defense.
Starting in the 60th minute with a Michael Bradley rocket over the bar, the U.S. continued to create as substitutes entered the game. Christian Pulisic and Wood in particular proved dynamic, nearly combining for a goal in the 75th minute. Fellow substitute Nagbe pulled the strings in the middle, playing several key passes while helping the USMNT maintain possession that was sorely lacking in the first half.
The game’s first half was a tepid one, as neither side mustered a shot in the opening 45 minutes. Although Ecuador proved the more active team in terms of possession, the U.S. likely got the best look as Clint Dempsey sprung in Gyasi Zardes before a mistouch extinguished the attack.
Ecuador proved most dangerous down the left as Jefferson Montero repeatedly tested DeAndre Yedlin, who was coming off a strong performance against Puerto Rico. The USMNT fullback stood tall each time, limiting Ecuador to few chances inside the final third.
A more resolute second-half performance followed for the USMNT, culminating in Nagbe’s winner in the game’s dying moments.
The USMNT returns to action on Saturday against Bolivia in the team’s third and final Pre-Copa America friendly before opening the tournament against Colombia on June 3.