Messi, Argentina Dominate USMNT in Copa America Semifinal

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by Deny Gallagher

Argentina is now 90 minutes from ending their 23-year title drought in international tournaments after dismantling the United States 4-0 in Houston.

The night belonged to one of the greatest players to ever do it: Lionel Messi. On an evening that saw the Barcelona man add a goal and two assists, he became the all-time leading scorer for Argentina on a free kick for the ages.

Gonzalo Higuaín secured his second brace in as many games in the side’s dominating effort.

“Well obviously it’s very difficult, especially after three minutes being one nil down,” U.S. Men’s National Team boss Jurgen Klinsmann said. “That was quite a knock. Then obviously you couldn’t compensate the fact that we missed [Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood]. And also, you saw tonight why they [Argentina] the number one team in the world. I have to give a them huge compliment to [Lionel] Messi and [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Javier] Mascherano and these guys. It’s just top class what they are playing and I think that’s what the players will realize on the field as well. You have to give them huge credit”

Tuesday got off to the worst possible start for the Americans when they conceded a goal in the third minute. The passage began from the corner, which found its way to Lionel Messi at the top of the box via Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Barcelona man played a short ball over the top that found the head of Lavezzi. The striker caught Brad Guzan off his line and the forward gave Argentina a 1-0 advantage.

The U.S. settled down over the next 20 minutes, but the Argentina press and work rate forced the Americans to chase the South American side around the park.

Just as the Stars and Stripes were establishing a footing in this game, Messi was fouled by Chris Wondolowski about 24-yards from goal. Unfortunately for the Stars and Stripes, that was a little bit too close to the target for comfort. The Barcelona man did exactly what fans around the world have seen him do so many times, placing the free kick perfectly in the top right corner of the net to beat Guzan. The goal put the Argentines up 2-0 after 32 minutes and helped Messi surpass Gabriel Batistuta as the nation’s all-time leading goal scorer with 55 career goals.

Down 2-0 to start the second half, Klinsmann called upon 17-year-old Christian Pulisic to bring some life to the U.S. attack. The side showed signs of life, but not by much.

Five minutes into the half, Gonzalo Higuaín makes it 3-0 opening his scoring account on the second chance opportunity.

The remaining time saw the Americans look better, but still failed to get a shot on goal for the entire match.

In every area of the match Argentina, continued to make the Americans look like a scout team the rest of the way.   The uninspired play led to careless giveaways off poor first touches by the hosts. Such was the case in the 85th minute when Argentina won the ball on the edge of the final third. From there, Messi secured his second assist of the night when he played it to Higuaín for the easy goal.

After three long minutes of stoppage time, the referee put the United States out of their misery making the 4-0 score line official.

The United States now go to the Third Place Game in Phoenix against the loser of Colombia and Chile.

  • SMURF040

    The U.S. tried, it was a good effort but you have to tip your hat off to Argentina. They’re just too good!! No excuse should be made. They got beat by a better team, simple as that. Let’s just get ready for Colombia now. And let’s see the final Argentina/Chile!!!

    • slowleftarm

      Actually it was a pretty terrible performance by the USMNT. They played about as bad as they can play which is unfortunate in such a big game and against such a great opponent. Obviously, Argentina are a much better side and deserved to advance. Even if the US played their best game, Argentina probably would’ve won. They will be tough to beat in the final.