Miller Bolaños' Copa America started out rocky for Ecuador, as he was responsible for conceding a penalty in La Tri's first game, against hosts Chile, and then compounded the mistakes in the first half of the second game, when an Ecuador penalty was chalked off because he entered the 18-yard box too soon.
Would the former Chivas USA man get yanked for making these mistakes, or would coach Gustavo Quinteros continue with him? Fortunately for Bolaños, he remained in the lineup, and the rest of the group stage looked up for him.
In what turned out to be a 3-2 loss to Bolivia in the second game, Ecuador nearly completed a comeback from 3-0 down at the break, and Bolaños unleashed a rocket in the 80th minute to bring his side to within one.
Then, he built on that with an even better game, and result, in the final group stage game against Mexico on Friday. With both teams needing a win for a chance at the knockout stage, Bolaños set up and then finished Ecuador's first goal with a run to the far post and tapping in a deflected shot/cross:
He also set up what turned out to be the winner in the 2-1 result, sending Enner Valencia through to finish past Jesus Corona in the second half:
The turnaround by the one-time Goat mirrors that of his team, that played the first half of the group stage terribly and then bounced back and played solid in the second half.
As a result of the one win and two losses in the group stage, Ecuador now have to see how the other two groups finish in the Copa America to see if they will move on. From the outset, it looks unlikely, since most of the other teams that could finish third in Groups B and C already have three points with a game to play, but we won't know until all the games are done.
Regardless, it may have taken Bolaños some time to get his sea legs in competitive international soccer, but two goals and an assist in three games to finish off the tournament (if this is indeed the end of Ecuador's run) is a solid showing and means he will probably get more chances with his national team as World Cup qualifying kicks off in South America.
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