Borussia Dortmund
2:00 AM UTC May 23, 2018
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North Carolina FC
Ocean City Nor'easters
11:00 PM UTC
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Montero the danger-man

Jefferson Montero has been tipped to shine at the World Cup.

Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda left it late before finally naming his 23-man World Cup squad on Monday evening and save for the absence of the injured Jayro Campos it is a full-strength selection, with the attack particularly interesting.

To start, though, the national team goalkeepers have been set for some time. Alexander Dominguez was the first-choice during the qualifiers, starting in 12 of 16 matches, and he is a tall, strong and secure goalkeeper. He could, though, find his position in the starting XI for the World Cup under threat from Maximo Banguera, who started the other four.

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Rueda seems to be using a more possession-based approach and Dominguez has never been particularly comfortable with the ball at this feet. He is capable of booming long kicks forward but Banguera, while a risk-taker, is far better equipped to deal with a short passing game out from the back.

The cap-wearing Banguera also has the advantage of having played a bigger part in Ecuador's preparation, with Dominguez still recovering from a broken finger on his left hand.

The defence, though, is the area in which Ecuador look weakest. Their recent friendlies have been littered with defensive errors and there is a worrying lack of genuine centre-back cover should Frickson Erazo or Jorge Guagua suffer an injury. The starting full-backs are decent enough, but Juan Carlos Paredes is remain prone to mistake and Walter Ayoví is far from quick.

A lack of defensive height could also be a concern, with only one of the selected defenders topping six foot. Some (Oscar Bagüi, Paredes and Ayoví) are far shorter.

Elsewhere, Rueda has included Segundo Castillo in his squad despite the fact that the experienced midfielder is highly likely to miss Ecuador's opener against Switzerland and possibly their second match against Honduras. He has been selected for his leadership qualities on and off the pitch and as a show of loyalty to a player who has always represents his country with distinction.

Ecuador have some genuine quality in midfield. Christian Noboa is a busy central midfielder with an excellent passing range, while the powerful forward running of Antonio Valencia plays a key role in the team's transition from defence to attack. Despite his advancing years, Edison Méndez is still capable of occasional brilliance.

Carlos Gruezo was a surprise call-up to Rueda's preliminary squad but has shown himself worthy of a place with a couple of energetic substitute appearances. The 19-year-old, who was called up on the back of strong performances for German side Stuttgart, could be in line to replace Castillo against Switzerland.

Michael Arroyo is an inconsistent yet talented attacking midfielder, Renato Ibarra a strong and quick winger, while central midfielder Luis Saritama has been included in the squad despte a couple of poor seasons at club level.

In attack, Ecuador have plenty of pace and power but not always the necessary precision to take advantage of the opportunities they create.

Jefferson Montero has been tipped by many to have a strong World Cup and the tricky winger certainly has the necessary talent to do so. He did, however, peter out in the second half of the recent friendly defeat to Mexico, giving the ball away cheaply on three or four occasions before being substituted.

Felipe Caicedo is a certain starter. The former Manchester City man acts a strong focal point up front, and they struggle to hold the ball in the final third when he is not in the side.

Jamie Ayoví is the closest like-for-like replacement for Caicedo, but he has rarely performed well for the national team and his selection was not a popular one -- he was voted out of the squad in a recent poll in El Comercio newspaper.

Enner Valencia, a strong and quick forward who comes into the World Cup on the back of a superb debut season in Mexico with Pachuca, is the most likely partner for Caicedo. Rojas, who moves well across the line and works hard out of possession, is his closest competitor.

Likely First-Choice XI: Banguera, Paredes, Guagua, Erazo, W.Ayoví; A.Valencia, Castillo (Gruezo), Noboa, Montero; E.Valencia, Caicedo