The United States men's national team fell to Argentina, 4-0, in the semifinals of the Copa America Centenario at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. With the loss, the USMNT advances to the third place game.
Argentina got on the scoreboard in the third minute. Ezequiel Lavezzi headed in a ball from Lionel Messi off a short corner.
Messi doubled Argentina's lead in the 32nd minute with a perfectly placed free kick following a counter-attack killing foul by Chris Wondolowski.
The U.S. started the second half by subbing in Christian Pulisic for Wondolowski, with Gyasi Zardes moving to striker. They attempted to get back into the match, but their efforts were quickly snuffed out.
Gonzalo Higuain pushed the lead to 3-0 in the 50th minute. He received a wonderful through ball into the box from Lavezzi. Higuain's initial shot was saved by Brad Guzan, but he was able to put away the rebound.
Argentina controlled the match the rest of the way, maintaining possession and absorbing American attacks.
Higuain scored his second goal of the match in the 86th minute. A Steve Birnbaum giveaway was collected by Messi, who squared it to a wide open Higuain.
The referee mercifully blew the final whistle a few minutes later, as the match had been over for quite a long time.
The result was never in doubt, and Argentina could have scored a few more goals. The match ended up being what everyone thought it would be, and now the U.S. can look ahead to the third place match.
- The USMNT again failed to deal with a designed set piece. To be fair, it was an amazingly well-executed short corner, but this was the third time they've been beaten this tournament. It's almost impressive how many American players were able to not keep track of Lavezzi.
- Defend and counter was always going to be the strategy. The U.S. was outmatched and the safe choice was to try and beat Argentina off the counter. As much as people wanted to attack (attack! attack!), conventional wisdom is that Argentina would have picked the defense apart. Whether trying not to lose instead of trying to win was the right strategy will forever be debated.
- Should the U.S. have started the match with the same lineup they used at the beginning of the second half? Zardes is more of a like-for-like replacement for Wood, but Klinsmann opted for Wondolowski.
- At the end of the day, it's Argentina. It was always a fool's hope that the USMNT would be able to win. Upsets are considered upsets because they rarely happened. In the future, the U.S. will be on equal footing with teams like Argentina, but they're just not there yet.
- Did the U.S. get a single shot off? I don't want to look at the stat sheet.
- I looked at the stat sheet. Argentina had a 67.9% to 32.1% edge in possession and the U.S. had one (off target) shot.
- Would the score have been closer if the U.S. had Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, and Bobby Wood? We'll never know. It's unfortunate that the U.S. couldn't play one of the biggest matches in program history with a full strength lineup.