USA Outclassed in 4-0 Loss to Argentina

Bradley, Zardes, and the USMNT just couldn’t keep up with Argentina and Messi on June 21, 2016 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. Photo by John Dorton.

LOS ANGELES – The United States Men’s National Team was eliminated from the Copa American Centenario on Tuesday night after being dealt a decisive 4-0 defeat by Argentina.

The team currently ranked number one in the world by FIFA demonstrated its superiority from the outset, going up 1-0 just four minutes in after Lionel Messi chipped a ball over the U.S. defense to an onside Ezequiel Lavezzi. The Paris Saint-Germain forward looped a header over U.S. keeper Brad Guzan for the opening goal.

Lionel Messi doubled Argentina’s lead just past the half hour mark. Argentina were awarded a free kick after the Barcelona no. 10 was fouled in midfield by Chris Wondolowski. Messi stepped up and dispatched the kick himself, splitting the wall with an immaculate ball that curled into the top corner, leaving a diving Brad Guzan no chance.

The goal was Messi’s 55th in an Argentina jersey, taking him one above Gabriel Bautista to become the all-time leading scorer for the Albiceleste.

Gonzalo Higuain added a third for Argentina, five minutes into the second half. The red-hot Napoli striker latched onto his own rebound and flicked a right-footed ball past Guzan from close range to make it 3-0.

Lavezzi, who’d opened the scoring, was subbed off for Erik Lamela shortly past the hour mark after falling backwards over the advertising boards and landing awkwardly while attempting to keep the ball in play.

Higuain scored again for Argentina’s fourth after a bad giveaway from U.S. substitute Steve Birnbaum gifted the ball to Messi. The Barça maestro slid a pass to Higuain who made no mistake slotting the ball past Guzan from inside the six yard box.

The U.S.A. were without starters Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood, and Alejandro Bedoya. But it’s highly debatable whether any of the suspended trio would have made the slightest bit of difference against an Argentina team that looked like it still had another gear or two to go to.

Argentina will now progress to Sunday’s final where they will face the winner of tomorrow’s semifinal: either Colombia or Chile. The U.S. will face the loser of that semifinal in the third place match, which will be held on Saturday.

 

Reporting and story by Alex Baker.  Photos courtesy of ISI.

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