MIAMI, Fla. (Saturday, February 8, 2003) — The U.S. Men’s National Team gave up a goal by Luis González in the ninth minute and fell 1-0 to a young, skillful Argentina team at the Orange Bowl in Miami on Saturday afternoon. The loss continued a U.S. trend of dropping games in the city of Miami, where the team is just 2-9-3 in 14 games since 1990, including a 2-5-2 mark at the Orange Bowl.
Argentina controlled most of the game’s early possession, with confident, tight passing helping to create the game’s only goal. That strike came on a crafty give-and-go between forward Andrés D'Alesandro and Gonzalez, with the 22-year-old River Plate midfielder finishing from 20 yards on a well-placed soft lob over U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard. The goal against Howard was the first allowed in four U.S. appearances for the 2001 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
“I thought today’s game was a very good game for our team to play,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “If we could be at fault for anything, I think it is the way we came out and started the game. I thought we demonstrated a lack of confidence in the early going and it took our team 20 minutes to really get in the game.”
The U.S managed to outshoot the Argentineans 11-8 on the afternoon, with a flurry of chances midway through the first half ending with Landon Donovan pouncing on a loose ball in the middle of the area and hitting a hard shot that was cleared out by a defender. Donovan almost created another dangerous attempt on goal in the first half, after Argentina’s goalkeeper Sebastián Saja could not hold a powerful shot from Chris Klein that hit him in the chest. With the ball bounding away from Saja in the area, Donovan was a half step short of gaining possession before the scrambling Saja collected the ball.
In the second half, Argentina’s pressure was steady and firm, with Gabriel Milito heading a shot off the goal post, Ariel Garcé having a shot from five yards cleared off his foot by a lunging DaMarcus Beasley and César Garignano hitting a shot destined for the right side of the goal but saved out for a corner kick by a diving Howard. Each of those chances came in a 10-minute span before the 65th minute.
“We gave them too much time and respect on the ball in the first 15 to 20 minutes," said U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni. "We started playing after they scored the goal. We gave a great effort in the second half, and created a few good opportunities to equalize. But in the first half we were getting stretched defensively and they did a good job creating spaces and running off each other. At times we were outnumbered in the midfield, and in those situations, I need to be more patient.”
The young U.S. line-up was led by the forward tandem of Donovan and Clint Mathis, who started side-by-side on the forward line for the first time. For Donovan, the match marked his 31st cap, while it was Mathis’ 28th appearance for the United States. In the second half, Donovan dropped into the midfield as forward Taylor Twellman came on for Ben Olsen to earn his third U.S. cap.
On defense, the coach Arena started Carlos Bocanegra and Danny Califf centrally for the third straight game, coupling them with Bobby Convey outside left and Sasha Victorine outside right for the second time this year.
Argentina was playing their third game in nine days, completing a sweep of CONCACAF opposition that also included a 3-1 win over Honduras (Jan. 31) and a 1-0 win over Mexico (Feb. 4).
The U.S. Men’s National Team departs Monday night for Kingston in advance of their match against Jamaica on Wednesday (Feb. 12) at the National Stadium in Kingston at 7 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on Telemundo via tape delay at 11:30 p.m. ET & PT, and fans can follow live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
The USA is continuing its preparation for participation in two major tournaments this summer. Eight teams from the around the world, led by 2002 World Cup champions Brazil, will compete for the FIFA Confederations Cup championship from June 18-29 in France. The USA will then look to defend its confederation championship in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be held from July 12-27 in the United States.
– U.S. MNT Game Report –
Match-up: USA vs. Argentina
Date: February 8, 2003
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: The Orange Bowl – Miami, Florida
Kickoff: 11:55 a.m. ET
Weather: 81 degrees, warm and humid
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Argentina 1 0 1
ARG – Luis González (Andrés D'Alesandro) 9th minute.
USA — 18-Tim Howard; 15-Bobby Convey, 4-Carlos Bocanegra (13-Steve Ralston, 90), 2-Dan Califf, 12-Sasha Victorine (6-Nick Garcia, 56); 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 17-Chris Klein (20-Jeff Cunningham, 79), 14-Ben Olsen (11-Taylor Twellman, 46); 21-Landon Donovan; 9-Clint Mathis (capt.).
Subs not used: 1-Nick Rimando, 8-Richard Mulrooney, 16-Pete Vagenas.
ARG — 1-Sebastián Saja; 4-Ariel Garcé, 2-Nicolás Burdisso, 6-Gabriel Milito (capt.), 5-Sebastián Bataglia; 3-Pablo Guiñazú, 7-Mariano González (19-César Garignano, 46), 8-Luis González; 9-Diego Milito (16-Clemente Rodríguez, 85), 11-Federico Inzúa (18-Leandro Romagnoli, 77), 15-Andrés D'Alesandro.
Subs not used: 12-Wilfredo Caballero, 14-Leonardo Ponzio, 21-Lucas Pusineri, 22-Gonzalo Rodríguez.
Stats Summary: USA ARG
Shots 11 8
Saves 2 2
Corner Kicks 7 6
Fouls 20 20
Offside 2 2
ARG – Andrés D'Alesandro (caution) 13th minute
USA – Ben Olsen (caution) 20.
ARG – Diego Milito (caution) 42.
USA – Bobby Convey (caution) 45.
ARG – Federico Inzúa (caution) 54.
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution) 71.
ARG – Pablo Guiñazú (caution) 74.
ARG – Andrés D'Alesandro (caution) 91+
ARG – Andrés D'Alesandro (ejection) 91+
Referee: Carlos Beltran (GUA)
Senior Assistant Referee: Mr. Fredy de Paz (GUA)
Junior Assistant Referee: Mr. Gregorio Pineda (GUA)
Fourth Official: Mr. Michael Kennedy (USA)
Chevrolet Man of the Match: Tim Howard