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Classy Argentina Side Downs USA, 4-1, in Copa America Opener

MARACAIBO, Venezuela (June 28, 2007) — A young U.S. Men’s National Team played an inspired match against Argentina, taking an early lead but eventually falling 4-1 to the classy South American side in their opening match of the 2007 Copa America in Estadio Jose Panchencho Romero in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

The U.S. team featured a line-up that included six players with fewer than 10 caps squaring off against an Argentina side focused on capturing the Copa America crown and earning a spot in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, something the United States did last week by winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

"We put a lot of effort into the first 60 minutes, and I think when Argentina raised the level over the last 30 minutes we were unable to match that," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley after the game. "When you play in tournaments like this, you have to understand the level of competition. We certainly started this tournament playing against one of the favorites. This is the first game. We understand that the first round is three games, so it is critical that we pull ourselves together for the match against Paraguay. Argentina is a good team. We all know they have great players."

The U.S. achieved a dream start against the heavily-favored Argentines, earning a clear penalty kick just seven minutes into the game when Gold Cup hero Benny Feilhaber hit a 30-yard pass with the outside of his right foot that split the Argentina defense and sprung Eddie Johnson on a breakaway. With Johnson free in the area, he was tripped up from behind by Gabriel Milito and Roberto Ayala. On the ensuing penalty kick, the Kansas City Wizards forward confidently slotted the ball to the right, freezing Argentina’s World Cup goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri. Johnson now has 11 international goals in 27 appearances.

The USA lead was short lived, though, with Argentina earning a free kick just three minutes later that Juan Roman Riquelme deftly lifted into the area behind the U.S. defense. With Kasey Keller coming off his line, Gabriel Heinze crashed into the ball, keeping it alive for Hernan Crespo to touch home for his first goal of the night.

Argentina’s eventual onslaught would begin at the 64-minute mark, with the game tied at 1-1 and Riquelme, Lionel Messi and Crespo all combining on a goal highlighting their world-class qualities. The goal began with Messi impressively dribbling into the U.S. half of the field, playing a perfect give-and-go with Riquelme, and then sliding a precise ball into the area for the lurking Crespo to finish past Keller.

The third goal came on a cannon-header from Pablo Aimar, who exploded through the area to slam home a cross from Heinze from 12 yards out. The powerful header was made even more impressive by Aimar’s run, which began outside the area as the ball was sent in and ended at the penalty spot.

The final goal was another bit of Argentinian class, with Riquelme lifting a ball into Carlos Tevez, who, like Aimar, was a second-half sub, behind the U.S. defense to neatly beat Keller with an unchallenged shot into the lower left corner of the goal that skimmed the post as it settled into the net.

The loss for the USA marked their first defeat in more than year, ending the team’s 10-0-1 run in 2007 under Bradley. The USA’s young line-up featured two debutantes in the match, Marvell Wynne (who started and played 90 minutes) and Herculez Gomez (who entered the game in the 69th minute).

Keller was at his best at the end of the first half, stretching to his right to tip a shot by Juan Sebastian Veron just enough to knick off the crossbar and out for a corner kick. On the ensuing corner, Keller was up to the challenge again, saving a point blank header from Crespo that the U.S. defense then cleared. For Keller, the game was his 101st all-time cap for the USA, moving him into first-place among goalkeepers, ahead of Tony Meola.

The U.S. continues Group C action against Paraguay on July 2 at Estadio Agustin Tovar “La Carolina” in Barinas, before finishing group play against Colombia on July 5 at Estadio Metropolitano de Futbol de Lara in Barquisimeto. Both games are being broadcast live on GolTV and Telefutura, and fans can follow the action on’s MatchTracker.

In the opening match of Group C action, Paraguay defeated Colombia 5-0, behind three goals from Roque Santa Cruz.

-- U.S. Men's National Team Game Report --

Match-up: USA vs. Argentina
Date: June 28, 2007
Competition: Copa America – Group C
Venue: Estadio Jose Panchencho Romero – Maracaibo, Venezuela
Kickoff: 8:45 p.m. ET
Attendance: 34,500
Weather: 84 degrees, scattered clouds

Scoring Summary:   1    2    F
USA                              1    0    1
Argentina                     1    3    4

USA – Eddie Johnson (penalty kick)                      9th minute.
ARG – Hernan Crespo (Gabriel Heinze)               11.
ARG – Hernan Crespo (Lionel Messi)                   64.
ARG – Pablo Aimar (Gabriel Heinze)                     78.
ARG – Carlos Tevez (Juan Ramon Riquelme)    85.

USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 2-Marvell Wynne, 3-Jay DeMerit, 12-Jimmy Conrad, 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 5-Benny Feilhaber, 19-Ricardo Clark (17-Kyle Beckerman, 79), 14-Ben Olsen (11-Eddie Gaven, 62), 21-Justin Mapp; 20-Taylor Twellman (8-Herculez Gomez, 69), 9-Eddie Johnson
Subs not used: 4-Bobby Boswell, 6-Heath Pearce, 7-Dan Califf, 10-Charlie Davies, 15-Drew Moor, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 23-Brad Guzan, 25-Lee Nguyen
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

ARG: 1-Robert Abbondanzieri; 8-Javier Zanetti, 2-Robert Ayala (capt.), 15-Gabriel Milito, 6-Gabriel Heinze; 14-Javier Mascherano, 20-Juan Sebastian Veron, 19-Esteban Cambiasso (16-Pablo Aimar, 58), 10-Juan Roman Riquelme; 18-Lionel Messi (11-Carlos Tevez, 79), 9-Hernan Crespo
Subs not used: 3-Daniel Diaz, 4-Hugo Ibarra, 5-Fernando Gago, 7-Rodrigo Palacio, 12-Juan Pablo Carrizo, 13-Luis Gonzalez, 17-Nicolas Burdisso, 21-Diego Milito, 22-Gustavo Orion
Head Coach: Alfio Basile

Stats Summary:    USA      ARG
Shots                          6          10
Saves                          2           1
Corner Kicks              0           5
Fouls                           9          15
Offside                         1           4

Misconduct Summary:
ARG – Gabriel Milito (caution)                 58th minute.
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (caution)      73.

Referee: Carlos Candia (CHI)
1st Asst.: Rodrigo Gonzalez (CHI)
2nd Asst.: Luis Avila (PER)
Fourth Official: Victor Rivera (PER)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Lionel Messi


TEAM            W    L    T   GF  GA   GD  PTS
Paraguay      1    0    0     5     0     +5     3
Argentina      1    0    0     4     1     +3     3
USA               0    1    0     1     4      -3     0
Colombia     0    1    0     0     5      -5     0


Group A

June 26
Uruguay 0, Peru 3
Venezuela 2, Bolivia 2

June 30
Bolivia vs. Uruguay
Venezuela vs. Peru

July 3
Peru vs. Bolivia
Venezuela vs. Uruguay

Group B

June 27
Ecuador 2, Chile 3
Brazil 0, Mexico 2

July 1
Brazil vs. Chile
Mexico vs. Ecuador

July 4
Mexico vs. Chile
Brazil vs. Ecuador

Group C

June 28
Paraguay 5, Colombia 0
Argentina 4, USA 1

July 2
USA vs. Paraguay
Argentina vs. Colombia

July 5
Colombia vs. USA
Argentina vs. Paraguay

July 7
A1 vs. A2/B3/C3 (San Cristobal)
A2/B3/C3 vs. B2 (Puerto La Cruz)

July 8
B1 vs. C2 (Maturin)
C1 vs. A2 (Barquisimeto)

July 10
San Cristobal Winner vs. Puerto La Cruz winner (Maracaibo)

July 11
Maturin Winner vs. Barquisimeto Winner (Puerto Ordaz)

Third Place
July 14
Loser Maracaibo vs. Loser Puerto Ordaz (Caracas)

July 15
Semifinal Winners (Maracaibo)