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USA Downed 4-0 by World No. 1 Argentina in Copa America Centenario Semifinals

HOUSTON (June 21, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team was defeated 4-0 by the world’s No. 1 team Argentina before a sellout crowd of 70,858 at NRG Stadium in the Semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

Argentina got off to a quick start when Ezequiel Lavezzi headed home the opening goal in just the third minute. The U.S. gamely battled back, but found itself in a deeper hole when Lionel Messi curled an inch-perfect shot from 25 yards into the upper right corner for the 2-0 halftime lead.

The second frame followed a similar script as the U.S. fought to get back in the game through the offensive play of second half subs Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe in between Gonzalo Higuain’s strike within the first five minutes of the restart and game capping goal four minutes from time.

The U.S. moves on to the tournament’s Third Place match against the loser of Wednesday’s other Semifinal between Colombia and reigning Copa America champion Chile. The Third Place match will be broadcast live on FX, Univision and UDN this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
ARG – Ezequiel Lavezzi (Lionel Messi), 3rd minute:
From an early corner kick, the ball was partially cleared to the top of the U.S. box where Messi waited to collect any loose ball. The U.S. defense pushed out and Messi lifted an exquisite one-time chip into the path of Lavezzi who nodded a deft header over U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan for the early lead. USA 0, ARG 1

ARG – Lionel Messi, 32nd minute: After winninga free kick in the center of the field 27 yards from the U.S. goal, Messi sent a world-class free kick into the upper, right-hand corner of the goal to become Argentina’s all-time goal scoring leader. USA 0, ARG 2

ARG – Gonzalo Higuain, 50th minute: In the course of a counter attack, Argentina sent the ball to Lavezzi on the left wing and he whipped a cross toward the penalty spot where Higuain was ending his run. Having got behind the U.S. defense, Higuain attempted a one-time redirection on goal that Guzan was able to save; however, the rebound fell right to the Argentina striker, who controlled the ball and rounded a recovering Guzan to tap the ball into the empty net. USA 0, ARG 3

ARG – Gonzalo Higuain (Lionel Messi), 86th minute: On a late turnover in the U.S. defensive third, Messi collected the loose ball and pushed into the U.S. penalty area before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot for Higuain to tap home. USA 0, ARG 4 FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT continues the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the Third Place match against the loser between Colombia and Chile, who play on Wednesday night in the competition’s other Semifinal at 7 p.m. CT in Chicago. The Third Place match will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on June 25 at 8 p.m. ET.
Broadcast information:
FX, Univision, UDN
Social:
Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • Three changes were made to the starting lineup from the 2-1 win against Ecuador, all due to the one-game suspensions for Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood. Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wondolowski all made their first starts of the tournament in place of Bedoya, Jones and Wood.
  • Zusi had entered as a substitute in all four previous matches in the tournament, scoring the final goal against Costa Rica that made the difference for the U.S. to finish first in Group A on goal difference.
  • Beckerman appeared as a sub in the three previous matches, while Wondolowski made his tournament debut.
  • Seventeen-year-old winger Christian Pulisic saw his second shift of the tournament, coming on at halftime for Wondolowski.
  • Midfielder Darlington Nagbe also got his second taste of the competition, coming on in the 78th minute for Clint Dempsey.
  • Steve Birnbaum got his first extended experience in the tournament, replacing Beckerman in the 60th minute; he had previously come on in second half stoppage time vs. Ecuador.
  • Michael Bradley and Gyasi Zardes have both played in 11 of 12 MNT games in 2016, tied for the team lead.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Argentina
Date: June 21, 2016
Competition: 2016 Copa America Centenario - Semifinals
Venue: NRG Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 70,858 (sellout)
Weather: 80 degrees; Partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 0 0
ECU                        2 2 4

ARG – Ezequiel Lavezzi (Lionel Messi)       3rd minute
ARG – Lionel Messi                                   32
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain                              50
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain (Lionel Messi)         86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 23-Fabian Johnson; 19-Graham Zusi, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 15-Kyle Beckerman (3-Steve Birnbaum, 60), 9-Gyasi Zardes; 8-Clint Dempsey (10-Darlington Nagbe, 78), 18-Chris Wondolowski (17-Christian Pulisic, 46)
Subs not used: 5-Matt Besler, 12-Tim Howard,
14-Michael Orozco, 16-Perry Kitchen, 21-Edgar Castillo, 22-Ethan Horvath
Not available:
7-Bobby Wood, 11-Alejandro Bedoya , 13-Jermaine Jones
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

ARG: 1-Sergio Romero; 16-Marcos Rojo (15-Victor Cuesta, 84), 13-Ramiro Funes-Mori, 17-Nicolas Otamendi, 4-Gabriel Mercado; 8-Augusto Fernandez (6-Lucas Biglia, 59), 14-Javier Mascherano, 19-Ever Banega; 22-Ezequiel Lavezzi (18-Erik Lamela, 67), 9-Gonzalo Higuain, 10-Lionel Messi (capt.)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Maidana, 3-Facundo Roncaglia, 5-Matias Kranevitter, 7-Angel Di Maria, 11-Sergio Aguero, 12-Nahuel Guzman, 21-Javier Pastore, 23-Mariano Andujar
Not Available: 20-Nicolas Gaitan
Head Coach: Gerardo Martino

Stats Summary: USA / ARG
Shots: 0 / 14
Shots on Goal: 0 / 9
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 1 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 7
Offside: 2 / 9

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution) 31st minute

Officials:
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Milciades Saldivar (PAR)
4th Official: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)

Budweiser Man of the Match: TBA

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MNT Jun 21, 2016

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Argentina
Date: June 21, 2016
Competition: 2016 Copa America Centenario - Semifinals
Venue: NRG Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 70,858 (sellout)
Weather: 80 degrees; Partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 0 0
ECU                        2 2 4

ARG – Ezequiel Lavezzi (Lionel Messi)       3rd minute
ARG – Lionel Messi                                   32
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain                              50
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain (Lionel Messi)         86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 23-Fabian Johnson; 19-Graham Zusi, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 15-Kyle Beckerman (3-Steve Birnbaum, 60), 9-Gyasi Zardes; 8-Clint Dempsey (10-Darlington Nagbe, 78), 18-Chris Wondolowski (17-Christian Pulisic, 46)
Subs not used: 5-Matt Besler, 12-Tim Howard,
14-Michael Orozco, 16-Perry Kitchen, 21-Edgar Castillo, 22-Ethan Horvath
Not available:
7-Bobby Wood, 11-Alejandro Bedoya , 13-Jermaine Jones
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

ARG: 1-Sergio Romero; 16-Marcos Rojo (15-Victor Cuesta, 84), 13-Ramiro Funes-Mori, 17-Nicolas Otamendi, 4-Gabriel Mercado; 8-Augusto Fernandez (6-Lucas Biglia, 59), 14-Javier Mascherano, 19-Ever Banega; 22-Ezequiel Lavezzi (18-Erik Lamela, 67), 9-Gonzalo Higuain, 10-Lionel Messi (capt.)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Maidana, 3-Facundo Roncaglia, 5-Matias Kranevitter, 7-Angel Di Maria, 11-Sergio Aguero, 12-Nahuel Guzman, 21-Javier Pastore, 23-Mariano Andujar
Not Available: 20-Nicolas Gaitan
Head Coach: Gerardo Martino

Stats Summary: USA / ARG
Shots: 0 / 14
Shots on Goal: 0 / 9
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 1 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 7
Offside: 2 / 9

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution) 31st minute

Officials:
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Milciades Saldivar (PAR)
4th Official: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)

Budweiser Man of the Match: TBA

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USA Downed 4-0 by World No. 1 Argentina in Copa America Centenario Semifinals

HOUSTON (June 21, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team was defeated 4-0 by the world’s No. 1 team Argentina before a sellout crowd of 70,858 at NRG Stadium in the Semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario.

Argentina got off to a quick start when Ezequiel Lavezzi headed home the opening goal in just the third minute. The U.S. gamely battled back, but found itself in a deeper hole when Lionel Messi curled an inch-perfect shot from 25 yards into the upper right corner for the 2-0 halftime lead.

The second frame followed a similar script as the U.S. fought to get back in the game through the offensive play of second half subs Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe in between Gonzalo Higuain’s strike within the first five minutes of the restart and game capping goal four minutes from time.

The U.S. moves on to the tournament’s Third Place match against the loser of Wednesday’s other Semifinal between Colombia and reigning Copa America champion Chile. The Third Place match will be broadcast live on FX, Univision and UDN this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
ARG – Ezequiel Lavezzi (Lionel Messi), 3rd minute:
From an early corner kick, the ball was partially cleared to the top of the U.S. box where Messi waited to collect any loose ball. The U.S. defense pushed out and Messi lifted an exquisite one-time chip into the path of Lavezzi who nodded a deft header over U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan for the early lead. USA 0, ARG 1

ARG – Lionel Messi, 32nd minute: After winninga free kick in the center of the field 27 yards from the U.S. goal, Messi sent a world-class free kick into the upper, right-hand corner of the goal to become Argentina’s all-time goal scoring leader. USA 0, ARG 2

ARG – Gonzalo Higuain, 50th minute: In the course of a counter attack, Argentina sent the ball to Lavezzi on the left wing and he whipped a cross toward the penalty spot where Higuain was ending his run. Having got behind the U.S. defense, Higuain attempted a one-time redirection on goal that Guzan was able to save; however, the rebound fell right to the Argentina striker, who controlled the ball and rounded a recovering Guzan to tap the ball into the empty net. USA 0, ARG 3

ARG – Gonzalo Higuain (Lionel Messi), 86th minute: On a late turnover in the U.S. defensive third, Messi collected the loose ball and pushed into the U.S. penalty area before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot for Higuain to tap home. USA 0, ARG 4 FINAL

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT continues the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the Third Place match against the loser between Colombia and Chile, who play on Wednesday night in the competition’s other Semifinal at 7 p.m. CT in Chicago. The Third Place match will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on June 25 at 8 p.m. ET.
Broadcast information:
FX, Univision, UDN
Social:
Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram

Additional Notes:

  • Three changes were made to the starting lineup from the 2-1 win against Ecuador, all due to the one-game suspensions for Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood. Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman and Chris Wondolowski all made their first starts of the tournament in place of Bedoya, Jones and Wood.
  • Zusi had entered as a substitute in all four previous matches in the tournament, scoring the final goal against Costa Rica that made the difference for the U.S. to finish first in Group A on goal difference.
  • Beckerman appeared as a sub in the three previous matches, while Wondolowski made his tournament debut.
  • Seventeen-year-old winger Christian Pulisic saw his second shift of the tournament, coming on at halftime for Wondolowski.
  • Midfielder Darlington Nagbe also got his second taste of the competition, coming on in the 78th minute for Clint Dempsey.
  • Steve Birnbaum got his first extended experience in the tournament, replacing Beckerman in the 60th minute; he had previously come on in second half stoppage time vs. Ecuador.
  • Michael Bradley and Gyasi Zardes have both played in 11 of 12 MNT games in 2016, tied for the team lead.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Argentina
Date: June 21, 2016
Competition: 2016 Copa America Centenario - Semifinals
Venue: NRG Stadium; Houston, Texas
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 70,858 (sellout)
Weather: 80 degrees; Partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 0 0
ECU                        2 2 4

ARG – Ezequiel Lavezzi (Lionel Messi)       3rd minute
ARG – Lionel Messi                                   32
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain                              50
ARG – Gonzalo Higuain (Lionel Messi)         86

Lineups:
USA: 1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Geoff Cameron, 6-John Brooks, 23-Fabian Johnson; 19-Graham Zusi, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 15-Kyle Beckerman (3-Steve Birnbaum, 60), 9-Gyasi Zardes; 8-Clint Dempsey (10-Darlington Nagbe, 78), 18-Chris Wondolowski (17-Christian Pulisic, 46)
Subs not used: 5-Matt Besler, 12-Tim Howard,
14-Michael Orozco, 16-Perry Kitchen, 21-Edgar Castillo, 22-Ethan Horvath
Not available:
7-Bobby Wood, 11-Alejandro Bedoya , 13-Jermaine Jones
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

ARG: 1-Sergio Romero; 16-Marcos Rojo (15-Victor Cuesta, 84), 13-Ramiro Funes-Mori, 17-Nicolas Otamendi, 4-Gabriel Mercado; 8-Augusto Fernandez (6-Lucas Biglia, 59), 14-Javier Mascherano, 19-Ever Banega; 22-Ezequiel Lavezzi (18-Erik Lamela, 67), 9-Gonzalo Higuain, 10-Lionel Messi (capt.)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Maidana, 3-Facundo Roncaglia, 5-Matias Kranevitter, 7-Angel Di Maria, 11-Sergio Aguero, 12-Nahuel Guzman, 21-Javier Pastore, 23-Mariano Andujar
Not Available: 20-Nicolas Gaitan
Head Coach: Gerardo Martino

Stats Summary: USA / ARG
Shots: 0 / 14
Shots on Goal: 0 / 9
Saves: 5 / 0
Corner Kicks: 1 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 7
Offside: 2 / 9

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Wondolowski (caution) 31st minute

Officials:
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Milciades Saldivar (PAR)
4th Official: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)

Budweiser Man of the Match: TBA

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MNT Jun 21, 2016

Lineup Notes: USA vs. Argentina - 2016 Copa America Centenario Semifinals

U.S. MNT vs. Argentina
June 21, 2016 – NRG Stadium
Houston, Texas
Live Broadcast: FS1, Univision, Univision Deportes Network

Tonight’s lineup: Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski, Clint Dempsey, Gyasi Zardes

  • Three changes to the starting lineup from the 1-0 win against Ecuador, all due to the one-game suspensions for Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood.
  • Graham Zusi has entered as a substitute in all four matches in the tournament, scoring the final goal against Costa Rica that made the difference for the U.S. to finish first in the group on goal difference.
  • Kyle Beckerman appeared in the last three matches, while Chris Wondolowski makes his tournament debut.

MATCH PREVIEW: USA vs. Argentina | Copa America Centenario Semifinal

  • “Wondo” shared the Golden Boot in the 2013 Gold Cup, having scored five goals.
  • Clint Dempsey has scored in three straight matches, improving his career total to 52 goals. He is second on the all-time scoring list for the USA, which is the only CONCACAF country with two or more 50-goal scorers
  • Dempsey also has three assists, good for tops in the tournament so far.
  • The U.S. and Argentina have tied in their last two meetings, the latest a 1-1 draw on March 26, 2011, in New Jersey.
  • Beckerman has played in six different international tournaments for the United States, including one World Cup (2014), three Gold Cups (2009, 2013, 2015), and two Copa Americas (2007, 2016). This is his third-consecutive World Cup Qualifying cycle.
  • Bradley and Zardes have both played in 10 of 11 MNT games in 2016, tied for the team lead.
  • Guzan has a career record of 13-5-4 in official competition, and has recorded shutouts in 11 of those matches.
  • Brooks earned Man of the Match honors in two of the MNT’s four Copa America Centenario matches so far.
  • The MNT has recorded six clean sheets in 11 games this year.

 

 

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MNT Jun 21, 2016

Match Preview: USA vs. Argentina | Copa America Semifinal | 9pm ET | FS1, Univision

After leaving Seattle with a 2-1 win against Ecuador in the quarterfinals of Copa America Centenario, the U.S. Men's National Team hosts the world's No. 1-ranked team, Argentina, in Houston with a place in the final on the line. Kickoff from NRG Stadium is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, and Univision Deportes Network.

Here are some storylines to follow:

One Unbeaten Run Will End: Both of the sides come into the match on winning streaks. The MNT head into Houston on the heels of three consecutive victories, while Argentina is the only team of Copa America Centenario to have won all four of their matches.

Offense vs Defense: Boasted by the likes of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina cruised through Group D scoring 10 goals and put four past Venezuela in the quarterfinals. The attacking juggernaut will face a U.S. defense that has not allowed a goal from the run of play in six games, dating back to a friendly on May 25 against Ecuador.

U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), 12-Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), 22-Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)

DEFENDERS (8): 5-Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 3-Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), 6-JohnBrooks (Hertha Berlin), 20-Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), 21-Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), 23-Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 14-Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): 15-Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), 11-AlejandroBedoya (Nantes), 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 8-Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), 13-Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), 16-Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), 10-Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), 17-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), 18-Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 7-Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), 20-Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), 19-Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

FORCED CHANGES: After maintaining the same Starting XI throughout the group stage, the U.S. will once again have to change their lineup. Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood will miss the semifinal due to suspension. However, DeAndre Yedlin returns after missing the quarterfinal due to his red card ejection vs. Paraguay.

DEMPSEY SCORING STREAK: Back in his home state, the Texan is looking to find the back of the net for the fourth consecutive game. Dempsey opened the scoring in the MNT’s past three games, including the game winners against Costa Rica and Paraguay to cap off the group stage. His latest goal was the 52nd of his international career, leaving him five shy of Landon Donovan's all-time record (57) for an MNT player.

ZARDES ON TARGET: The first goal for Gyasi Zardes in the Copa America Centenario couldn't have come at a better time. His finish in the 65th minute proved to be the goal that pushed the U.S. past Ecuador in the quarterfinals. The finish was his sixth of his international career.

KLINSMANN FACT FILE: With the win against Ecuador in Seattle, Jurgen Klinsmann has led the MNT to a 9-2-0 record in 2016. The 2-1 quarterfinal victory marked the 52nd of Klinsmann's tenure, and kept his winning percentage in official competition above .700, making him the all-time leader amongst MNT coaches. In May, Jurgen Klinsmann set a goal of reaching the Copa America Centenario semifinals. Having reached the final four, he's aiming to guide the U.S. to even greater heights.

COPA AMERICA MEETINGS: The U.S. and Argentina have met twice in the tournament's history. In their first Copa America meeting in 1995, the U.S. used goals from Frank Klopas, Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda to beat Argentina 3-0 en route to a fourth-place finish in the tournament. In 2007, Eddie Johnson gave the U.S. an early lead, but minutes later Hernan Crespo equalized and Argentina went on to win 4-1.

FACING #1: Argentina are currently ranked top in the latest FIFA Rankings. In 2008, with Argentina ranked number one in the world, the sides played out a 0-0 draw in East Rutherford, N.J. The last MNT meeting against the world's top-ranked team came last summer, when the U.S. were victorious 2-1 against World Cup champion Germany in Cologne.

USA Update

  • With the win against Ecuador, coupled with Mexico's loss to Chile, the MNT are the only remaining CONCACAF team left in Copa America Centenario. Never has a CONCACAF side won Copa America, but with a win against Argentina the U.S. could become the first to make the final since 2001.
  • The U.S. have reached the semifinals of Copa America for the second time in four appearances. In 1995, the MNT lost to Brazil 1-0 in semifinals and finished fourth.
  • Clint Dempsey set up the goal by Gyasi Zardes against Ecuador, increasing his tournament-leading assist total to three. Dempsey has been involved in six of the teams seven goals in the tournament.
  • Two MNT players made their Copa America Centenario debuts against Ecuador. Matt Besler replaced DeAndre Yedlin in the starting lineup and Steve Birnbaum came on for Zardes in the 94th minute of the quarterfinal win.
  • Although Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya are suspended, all bookings are wiped heading into the semifinals meaning no player will miss the final due to yellow card accumulation.

VS. ARGENTINA

  • The MNT Is 2-6-2 in 10 all-time meetings with Argentina dating back to the 1930 World Cup.
  • The last meeting was a friendly in 2011, when Juan Agudelo canceled out Esteban Cambiasso's goal in a 1-1 draw.

ARGENTINA COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Mariano Andújar (Estudiantes La Plata, ARG), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres UANL, MEX), Sergio Romero (Manchester United, ENG)

DEFENDERS (7): Victor Cuesta (Independiente, ARG), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton, ENG), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate, ARG), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate, ARG), Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City, ENG), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United, ENG), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina, ITA) 

MIDFIELDERS (7): Éver Banega (Sevilla, ESP), Lucas Biglia (Lazio, ITA), Augusto Fernández (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Matías Kranevitter (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, ESP), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ESP), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA) 

FORWARDS (6): Sergio Agüero (Manchester City, ENG), Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli, ITA), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), Ángel Di María (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Nicolás Gaitán (Benfica, POR), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebeir China Fortune, CHN) 

  • Argentina is managed by former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino, who took over in August of 2014.  
  • They've been champions of South America 14 times, but haven't lifted any trophy since 1993. In 2015, Argentina made the final but lost to Chile on penalty kicks.
  • Argentina have notched 14 goals so far, tied with Chile for the most in the tournament.
  • Despite missing the first match, Messi leads the team with four goals. Gonzalo Higuain and Erik Lamela have two apiece.
  • Messi's goal in the quarterfinal against Venezuela was his 54th international goal, tying him with Gabriel Batistuta for most all-time for Argentina.
  • In addition to their attacking prowess, La Albiceleste have only allowed two goals in four games, the least of any team in the tournament. The defense has been anchored by English Premier League duo Sergio Romero and Nicolas Otamendi.
  • Argentina will be without forward Nicolas Gaitan, who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Venezuela.
  • Only four of Argentina's players play their club football domestically. Defenders Jonathan Maidana and Gabriel Mercado play for River Plate, while Victor Cuesta and Mariano Andujar play for Independiente and Estudiantes, respectively.
  • PSG winger Angel Di Maria has missed Argentina's last two games with an injury, but could return for the semifinal.
  • Argentina currently sit third in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying. They'll face group leaders Uruguay on September 1 in their next match.
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MNT Jun 21, 2016

Bloemfontein To Houston: Here We Go Again

Semifinal.
Major international tournament.
Against one of the world’s great teams. 

As U.S. Soccer fans, we’ve been here before. And as the U.S. Men’s National Team prepares to take on No. 1-ranked Argentina in the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America Centenario, it’s worth hopping in the time machine and traveling back almost exactly seven years ago.

June 24, 2009 was a day to remember for U.S. Soccer as the USA met Spain in the semifinal of the Confederations Cup in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Against a team that would go on to win the 2010 FIFA World Cup and a country riding a world record 15-game winning streak and 35-game unbeaten streak, the USA got goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey to record one of the greatest victories in U.S. Soccer history.

Playing against one of the best teams of all time in the midst of its golden generation, a side that featured Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carlos Puyol, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, David Villa and Fernando Torres, the USA played an inspired match. The USA put forth a tremendous defensive effort anchored by goalkeeper Tim Howard and a back line of Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and captain Carlos Bocanegra to keep Spain off the scoreboard on the way to a 2-0 win.

Spain for sure had its scoring chances, but the Americans were more efficient in front of goal and a total team effort – the likes of which U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann knows his team is capable of against Argentina -- contributed to the epic victory.

The U.S. was the first team to shut out Spain since Italy did so in the 2008 European Championships and the win was the first victory by a CONCACAF team against Spain. The match also marked the first time in 29 games Spain allowed two goals.

The first of those two goals came in the 27th minute as Bocanegra settled a blocked pass by Michael Bradley, and played it back to Bradley in the center of the field. The central midfielder curled a ball up the left sideline to Charlie Davies, who played the ball to Dempsey with his first touch. Dempsey played a one-two with Davies to get past his defender, and looked for Altidore who was posting up against his Villarreal teammate Joan Capdevila. Dempsey’s pass was deflected by Xabi Alonso who was tracking back, but still found Altidore, who held off Capdevila before hitting a strike that went off goalkeeper Casillas’ right hand and the inside the left post before hitting the back of the net.

Spain came out flying in the second half but Howard and the U.S. defense were up to the task, absorbing pressure that included four shots in the first 10 minutes. Just two minutes in, Howard came off his line to parry away a cross and a minute later pulled out a world-class save as Villa curled a shot that looked destined for the right side netting with the outside of his left foot from 16 yards.

Three more of Howard’s eight saves came soon after: in the 52nd minute (Villa after a corner kick), 56th minute (Villa shooting near post) and 64th minute (Ramos shooting near post). In the 65th minute, Ricardo Clark made the first of many great hustle plays by the U.S. down the stretch when he recovered on a ball switched to the far post to slide and deny Ramos a clear shot.

In the 69th minute, the U.S. went to the bench bringing on Benny Feilhaber for Davies. Dempsey moved to forward with Feilhaber stepping into Dempsey’s slot in the midfield and five minutes later, the move paid dividends as Dempsey scored one of many memorable goals in his career (the 15th of his now 52), turning a dream into a reality with a 74th minute strike.

 

The goal originated as Bradley switched the ball to Feilhaber, who came inside to keep Ramos from intercepting. Feilhaber dribbled to the top of the penalty area, and faked a shot to draw in defenders before playing an entry pass to Landon Donovan on the right. Donovan’s low cross to the back post deflected off the heel of Gerard Pique before Ramos settled it at the far post. Dempsey, unseen by Ramos, sneaked in from the defender’s goal side to turn and hit a sliding shot into the net before Ramos could recover and the USA was on to final against Brazil.

The Americans would fall 3-2 to Brazil in the championship game, but the victory against Spain remains one of the greatest in U.S. history, and U.S. head coach Bob Bradley’s words sound remarkably similar to the themes U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been espousing this week heading into the Argentina game.

"For us it's a big night,” said Bradley after the game in 2009. “The players all work hard. We constantly talk about reaching higher and trying to accomplish new things. Spain is a team that we have the greatest respect for. They are a super team. Their ability to play, pass and move. We knew it was a challenge, but we felt that we would have a chance and that we could win this game.”

The USA will face an Argentina team featuring some of the world’s biggest stars including, of course, THE world’s biggest star, but to a man, the U.S. players are ready for the kind of game every professional dreams about.

“It’s a huge motivation for us to take on Argentina, one of the best sides in the world, but also to give them a real fight,” said Klinsmann two days before the 2016 Copa America semifinal. “We are not scared of them at all. We admire their players, but this a special moment. I told the players yesterday before we started training, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you now. You got into the semifinal, you made yourself proud, but not go for more. Be even hungrier, be more aggressive, more determined and add another 10% to what you’ve done already, and if everyone does that then we have a game with Argentina.”

Dempsey words after the victory against Spain perhaps preview the Argentina match as well: “No one expected us to win this game. We fought hard, showed a lot of heart playing compact defensively, picked our moments to go forward and got some goals.”

Klinsmann also can’t wait for this kind of challenge.

“We are ready to fight and chase them and be all over them,” he said. “And it’s going to be really fun.”

There will be one major difference between this game and the match in 2009. In Houston, the crowd will be more than twice as big as in Bloemfontein with 72,000 fans expected to fill NRG Stadium. Just four players – Bradley, Dempsey, Howard and Brad Guzan – who were on the U.S. team in 2009 are on this Copa America roster, and while they will lead the USA onto the pitch on Tuesday night, the current squad is infused with an American spirit and ready to do something special.

“A tournament writes its own story,” said Klinsmann. And whatever the result, a major chapter in U.S. Soccer history continues to be written.

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MNT Jun 21, 2016

Klinsmann, Bradley Aim for Success in Knockout Spotlight

Houston will be the site of one of the biggest U.S. Men's National Team games to ever be played on U.S. soil when the MNT meets Argentina, the world's top-ranked team, in a Copa America Centenario Semifinal at NRG Stadium on Tuesday night (9 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, UDN).

"This is top notch. This is what you want to experience," USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said on Sunday. "It's fun to watch [Argentina]. It's impressive, but it's also a huge motivation to take them on."

In May, Klinsmann set a goal of reaching the Semifinals of Copa America Centenario, but knows his team shouldn't be content with just being there. 

"This is a special moment. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Klinsmann has stressed to his players since beating Ecuador 2-1 in Seattle. "You got into the Semifinal, you made yourself proud, now go for more."

The players have received the message well and are excited by the opportunity presented in the match.

"To play at the biggest games when everything is one the line is what we all want,” MNT captain Michael Bradley said. "To play in the Semifinal of Copa America on our home soil against a big team like Argentina is an incredible opportunity."

It's an opportunity that doesn't come along often, the possibility of advancing to the final of a major international competition, but there is precedent for a game like that which the U.S. will play on Tuesday night.

At the 2009 Confederations Cup, the MNT faced then world number one Spain in the tournament Semifinals. The reigning European champions, and soon-to-be world champions, were humbled by a U.S. side that featured four players on the current roster. One of those was Bradley, who started in the 2-0 win against La Roja.

"We don't want to make [Argentina] out to be mission impossible,” Bradley said. “It's 90 minutes. It's a Semifinal. It's a chance to get into the Final. At the end of the day, whoever is sharper, whoever has more guys who can compete at a high level and understand the moment, that's typically which team has a better chance to win."

Klinsmann's tenure has been one of progress, but perhaps there is no better proof than winning such an intense knockout game on the international stage. Tuesday night is a chance for the progress that Klinsmann, his charges and U.S. fans across the globe desire.

"Brazil was huge for us,” Klinsmann stated. “We left there, yeah it was a success, but we wanted to go further. The learning curve for us is to make if further in those knockout games."

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MNT Jun 20, 2016
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