Gyasi Zardes enjoys playing against Ecuador.
Zardes, a forward for the U.S. men’s soccer team, scored in the 81st minute Thursday night to lead the Americans to a 1-0 win over Ecuador in an international friendly played at Orlando City Stadium in Florida.
Aside from Thursday’s goal, Zardes also scored the go-ahead goal for the U.S. in a 2-1 victory against Ecuador in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario.
The victory was the third straight this year for new U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter.
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With the teams stuck in a scoreless tie, a clearing pass by an Ecuador defender was blocked and the ball bounced over to Zardes in the middle of the field. He bolted into the offensive zone and ripped a shot toward the net. The ball deflected off an Ecuadorian defender and into the net over the goalkeeper’s head.
The U.S. has not given up a goal in three matches this year, shutting out Panama 3-0 and Costa Rica 2-0 prior to Thursday night’s game in Orlando.
Sean Johnson of New York City FC was in goal for the U.S.
Next up for the U.S. is a friendly against Chile on Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The team is preparing for the 2019 Gold Cup, which begins in June.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.