With little sense of urgency with the World Cup Qualifying several months away, the U.S. continues to struggle under the helm of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as Ecuador defeated the Yanks in a friendly at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on Tuesday night, 1-0.
Ecuador got a header goal from Jaime Ayovi in the 79th minute as goalkeeper Tim Howard couldn't react fast enough to get a hand on it. Ayovi shouldn't have been able to get his head on the ball, as central defender Tim Ream, who regularly plays in the stadium as a member of the New York Red Bulls, did a poor job of stepping in front of the cross by Walter Ayovi.
Thousands of Ecuador fans showed up in New Jersey, but the visitors only had one shot on goal, after five total shots in the match. The U.S. fared much better with 18 total shots, and with five on goal, but the U.S. needed to score, and simply could not despite some good chances.
Though the match's outcome had no bearing on the U.S. hopes for a World Cup berth, the lack of success under Klinsmann points to some depth problems with the squad.
The Americans were without Landon Donovan, Stuart Holden, Jay DeMerit, Charlie Davies, Ricardo Clark, Clarence Goodson, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, and Freddy Adu, and it showed on Tuesday. Donovan, a star attacking midfielder, has proven to be perhaps the greatest American player in the country's history, and the glue to the current squad. Without him, the U.S. often seems lost, and without a true offensive catalyst.
However, a makeshift U.S. roster needs to do better than what they did against Ecuador, and even Honduras, Belgium, and Costa Rica, for that matter.
If the U.S. wants to emerge as an elite power like Brazil, Spain, and Germany, there needs to be a strong effort to groom a legitimate striker. The last pure goal-scoring forward to play for the U.S. was Brian McBride, and there doesn't appear to be anyone climbing the ranks that can be as effective as McBride was in his prime.
Klinsmann, one of the best strikers to ever play for Germany, is probably well aware of the lack of world-class forwards, and is trying to find out which ones will emerge from a group that includes Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, and Edson Buddle.
On Tuesday, with no goals to show for their efforts at home, none of the three proved that the search is over.
Here is a look at the match highlights of U.S. - Ecuador: