The Chilean national soccer team, which is first in the CONMEBOL's 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament standings, and Ecuador, which is fourth, meet in an international friendly at Citi Field, the third soccer match at the stadium and the first this year.
"It's a really interesting match because of the level of our competition," Ecuador manager Reinaldo Rueda said in a Spanish-language news conference at Citi Field on Monday. "We know what Chile means in South America. For us, it's extremely important to test ourselves against an opponent that will tax us. We hope this match will benefit everyone -- the two teams and the people who decide to attend."
Chile manager Claudio Borghi called the chance to play a South American rival "very attractive," even in an unusual venue and under unfamiliar field conditions. "We think Ecuador is a fierce competitor and we need to play these international matches. We have the possibility to do it in New York and we'll take it with great pleasure."
Chile will play without its star, Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal, who is resting an injured groin. Also not joining the national team will be Universidad de Chile defender Osvaldo Gonzalez and Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
That might be enough of an opportunity for Ecuador, which, with eight points, is looking up at a team that leads CONMEBOL with 12 points. Though the tournament continues until October 2013, Ecuador's fourth-place spot is precarious -- the top four teams qualify for the World Cup and the fifth will compete in an international play-in game.
Borghi, though, was unfazed by the holes in his roster. "We're going to use the same strategies that we've been using in South American tournament play, but with new players," he said.
Both teams will resume tournament play next month, with Ecuador's next match coming against Bolivia on Sept. 7 and Chile will take on Colombia on Sept. 11.
"We believe this is a special moment that Chile is playing in and that we have to keep growing," Borghi said. "We're taking what Mexico is doing as a great example. Not only winning the gold medal" in a London Olympics upset against Brazil, but their overall rise on the international level.