Messi, Argentina beat USMNT 4-0 in Copa America semifinals

Jun 21, 2016, 8:11 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2016, 10:45 am

Lionel Messi and Argentina shut out the Americans in Houston on Tuesday in the Copa America semifin...

Lionel Messi and Argentina shut out the Americans in Houston on Tuesday in the Copa America semifinals. (AP)


The expectations were pretty low for the United States’ Copa America Centenario semifinal matchup with Argentina, but that doesn’t mean that the Americans’ 4-0 loss to Lionel Messi and company felt any better.

Jurgen Klinsmann went with a pretty conservative starting lineup in this match, throwing on Chris Wondolowski, Graham Zusi and Kyle Beckerman for his suspended trio of Jermaine Jones, Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya. It seems logical to go with experience here, but in a game in which the U.S. truly had nothing to lose, going with young talent could have at least produced something positive from the match.

Messi’s brilliance shows gap between U.S. and soccer’s elite

The first half couldn’t have started worse for the Americans. Following a poorly cleared Argentina corner, Ezequiel Lavezzi headed a lobbed pass over Brad Guzan, who looked to be dumbfounded as the ball sailed over his head. Argentina controlled the ball for almost the entire half. A very poor foul near the top of the box led to Argentina’s second score, when Messi fired an astonishing direct free kick into the corner of the net. The half ended 2-0 with only one good chance for the U.S. Argentina had 68 percent of possession.

Klinsmann did what many hoped he would at the start of the second half, substituting Christian Pulisic in for the ineffective Wondolowski. It didn’t help too much early on, as Gonzalo Higuain latched onto a poor punch by Guzan and further deflated the Americans by putting Argentina up 3-0.

Despite some positive introductions in the half – Steve Birnbaum and Darlington Nagbe – the U.S. just couldn’t find any real breakthroughs. The Americans came close a couple times, but they never really threatened Argentina’s goal. Horrible defending by Birnbaum gave Higuain an easy tap-in late after a great pass from Messi.

The match ended 4-0 as the U.S. slumps down to the third-place match and Argentina heads to the Copa America final.

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