USA vs. Ecuador Preview; Lessons Learned from Win vs. Honduras

Apologies, for the following post about tonight's U.S. National Team friendly vs. those dastardly devils from Ecuador (ESPN2, 7 p.m.) if it feels like a term paper written by a kid during his senior year in high school in the month of June.

Instead of belaboring that point, here are a couple quick thoughts from the Honduras game coupled with some other nuggets.

1. A couple months ago I wrote something along the lines of, "at least there's Clint Dempsey." How true that is. Against Honduras, at times, it seemed like the Fulham standout was playing chess and the other 21 players on the field were playing checkers.

One of these days Dempsey is going to score the best goal in U.S. history and he's going to look effortless doing so -- much like his game-winner vs. Honduras -- only more spectacular. It probably won't be enough to get his face actually rendered in a "FIFA" game, which is somewhat galling since Landon Donovan's face graces the cover of this year's edition. Then again, Dempsey probably doesn't get a four-letter word, which is what makes him Clint Dempsey in the first place.

Still ...

Oddly enough, of all U.S. players, Eric Lichaj has his actual face in the game. Strange.

2. Open practices for the fans. Playing music on iPads. Talking with the media for over an hour! Who exactly does Jurgen Klinsmann think he is?

For what it's worth, stuff like that seems like window dressing -- media fluff. If the U.S. plays well and develops under Klinsmann, then the writers can point back to this new era of American soccer glasnost as a big help. Otherwise, eh? Do like the idea of no names on the jerseys and numbers assigned in traditional 1-11 fashion based on position.

Then again, if some of Klinsmann's California-come-Germany Tony Robbins type power of positive thinking stuff actually rubs off on the team and they play with smiles instead of scowls, it's at least a minor victory. (No, Michael Bradley, this doesn't apply to you.)

3. More-and-more chatter about Brek Shea being scouted by some big-time clubs from England. Obviously this is a good thing, but not if he goes to a club and either a) sits the bench or b) get loaned out again-and-again. Specifically for England, Shea would seem a good fit since he has two major things going for him -- his 6-foot-3 frame and relatively good speed.

4. In short, if Michael Orozco-Fiscal gets another start we can all officially make jokes that he's Klinsmann's Jonathan Bornstein. Not sure what he sees in the kid.

5. Short-term, Oguchi Onyewu might help shore up the U.S. defense since nobody in the pool of potential central defense starters have emerged or made a valid case for automatic XI selection -- the bloom is off the Tim Ream rose -- but how much is the big guy going to have left in three years time? A plodding Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra pairing was exposed in 2010 and the game of international soccer is only getting faster.

6. During the Honduras game I kept squinting at my set and pretending Danny Williams was Kevin Prince-Boateng. Although he pwned the U.S. at the last World Cup, the Prince is probably among my five favorite players right now. Maybe he's a little too bit much a gimmick player, but he also chumpatized Michael Ballack, too, which is worth a lifetime free pass.

Back to Williams. He's an option for the U.S., nothing more, though his debut game was encouraging.

7. Doubtful that Ecuador still has their greasy, "Coming to America"-esque Jherri Curls that were such a hit at the 2006 World Cup via Charlos Tenorio.

8. Which of this is more of an eye-opener? That DaMarcus Beasley is only 29 or that Jozy Altidore is still only 21?

9. What's going to be John Harkes buzzword for the television broadcast? Let's stick with "process."

10. Really, not to belabor a dead horse, but it's hard to gauge where this team is in games that ultimately don't matter. You want to see flashes and cohesive play but it's going to be a long haul and expect even more auditions under Klinsmann. Put it this way, could you even name the "core" of this team? At this point you could claim Kyle Beckerman is right there alongside Dempsey and Donovan, which puts a lot of it in perspective.

11. Sorry folks, I have a personal commitment at 6:30 and then ALCS Game Three at 8, so there's a good chance this is the first USMNT in years I'll only be able to watch the highlights. Chances are, the world will keep on spinning on its axis.

Lineup Guess:

GK -- Howard

DEF -- Cherundolo -- Onyewu -- Bocanegra -- Chandler

MID -- Williams -- Beckerman -- Bradley -- Shea

FOR -- Dempsey -- Altidore

Not too many options from the players called in. Figure Juan Agudelo gets a couple minutes at his home stadium. Wonder how close to a sell-out Red Bull Arena comes. Would be disappointing if its not at least 90 percent capacity.

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