Oh, Reinaldo Rueda, what could have been.
Maybe if you had started Chivas USA midfielder Oswaldo Minda in Ecuador's opening 2014 World Cup match, against Switzerland, your team may have been able to hang onto a draw, instead of a loss, one that ultimately leaves La Tri as the first South American side to get knocked out of the tournament.
But seriously, folks, Minda got the nod from Rueda, for the second straight game in Brazil, as Ecuador held France in a scoreless draw to conclude their World Cup slate on Wednesday. It was an impressive feat for Ecuador against a side that had scored eight goals in their first two games of the tournament, and as a holding midfielder Minda has to bear at least part of the credit on the night.
Of course, there were a few hairy moments for the CUSA man, including former teammate Alejandro Moreno claiming he was "not clean on the ball" (I'm guessing Minda crunched Moreno in practice one time or three back in the day), and most notably, French star Paul Pogba turning Minda inside out at one point in the second half, to the extent that Minda was literally grasping at air. Fortunately for Minda, Pogba didn't manage to score, so it was ok in the end.
The result, while a moral victory of sorts, wasn't enough for Ecuador to advance from the group stage, as they finished third behind France and Switzerland. In the end, losing to Switzerland in the opener decided their fate, and they won't be able to match the Round of 16 finish from their last World Cup, in 2006.
Of course, Ecuador's loss is Chivas USA's gain, as Minda will be back with the team soon, and will likely only miss one MLS game during his World Cup excursion.
And for you haters out there, Minda didn't pick up a yellow card in his two World Cup appearances, so there's that.
Congratulations Oswaldo, for making a World Cup dream a reality, and welcome home!
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