Messi, Argentina Put on Clinic in 4-0 Demolition of U.S.

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Tuesday night, the United States took on the best team in the world…and it showed. The fact that the Americans were even in the semifinals was impressive on its own. Despite their best efforts, some fans had started to get their hopes and dreamed of a berth in the finals. Oh, how quickly those hopes were dashed. Argentina were hands down the better team for the full 90 minutes, and were ruthless in their dismantling of the American spirit. How bad would it get for the U.S.?

The pain started early for U.S. fans in Houston. Just three minutes into the match, Ezequiel Lavezzi struck. A short corner from Argentina eventually found its way out to Lionel Messi on the edge of the penalty area. The Little Magician hit a brilliant one-touch lofted ball back into the penalty area, and Lavezzi was there to knock a near post header in past Brad Guzan. A nightmare start for Jürgen Klinsmann’s squad.

Just over ten minutes later, Messi came close to doubling the South Americans’ lead. A trademark slicing and dicing run from the Argentine saw him dance around several U.S. defenders and working into a yard of space. His quick shot tested Guzan, but the Aston Villa keeper was able to deliver a smart save.

I’ve been public about my disapproval of Klinsmann including Chris Wondolowski in the 23-man roster. Just after the half-hour mark, the San Jose striker carelessly gave the ball away and sprung Argentina on the counterattack. He proceeded to take out Messi outside the penalty area and award the Barcelona star a free kick from a scoring position. Messi stepped up, and hit one of the most beautiful free kicks that I’ve ever seen. Despite being on the left hand side of the penalty area, the 28-year-old found the far top corner. I couldn’t even be mad that we were losing by two goals.

In the final bit of action from the first half, Lavezzi was seemingly sprung through on goal, but was flagged for offsides. For his troubles, the former PSG man was promptly close-lined by Guzan. That was the first shot that the Americans had through the opening 45 minutes.

The start of the second half came with a change for the U.S. as 17-year-old Christian Pulisic replaced Wondolowski. It wouldn’t be long until the Borussia Dortmund youngster would feel the pain of conceding against Argentina.

In the 50th minute, Lavezzi sent in a pinpoint cross to Gonzalo Higuaín in the penalty area. Guzan was able to deny the striker’s initial shot, but couldn’t hold on to stop the rebound. Higuaín pounced on the second chance and put the dagger in the Americans’ hearts. 3-0 Argentina.

Lavezzi, who was one of Argentina’s best players on the day, had his match cut short just after the hour mark. As he prepared to settle an aerial ball near the sidelines, he misjudged how close he was to the advertising boards. He would wind up going head first over the boards and would need to be stretchered off with his elbow looking to be the main point of concern.

Seven minutes later Pulisic had the Americans’ best chance of the match. A good through ball from Clint Dempsey sprung DeAndre Yedlin on down the wing. The Tottenham defender slid in a pass on the edge of the area, but Pulisic either muffed his shot or tried to pass to Gyasi Zardes at the near post and the chance came to nothing. The turnover nearly cost the Americans a goal as Argentina were almost immediately back on the attack before Erik Lamela sent his shot out for a free kick.

In the 83rd minute, Messi orchestrated yet another scoring chance. Another darting run put the Ballon d’Or winner through on the right side of the penalty area. He sent a curled shot that looked destined for the bottom corner, but Guzan delivered his best save of the match as he palmed the shot out for a corner.

At that moment, I believed that the U.S. would hold on for a 3-0 defeat and my pre-match prediction would be correct. Sadly, Messi had other plans. A horrendous giveaway from Steve Birnbaum on the edge of the area gifted the ball to Argentina and they made sure to punish the DC United defender. Messi sprinted past John Brooks and unselfishly laid the ball of to Higuaín so that the Napoli striker could score his second of the match and seal a 4-0 win for Argentina.

The 4-0 score line was pretty accurate of the on pitch performance. Argentina dominated the match, and held the Americans to zero…yes, zero shots. They didn’t even register a shot off target. Now, both sides must wait and watch the Colombia/Chile match to see who they’ll face in the final and third place match. I’m just happy we didn’t lose 7-0.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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