Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
USA tie earns pride and props
by Ridge Mahoney, June 9th, 2008 6:45AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Officially, American keeper Tim Howard earned Man of the Match honors for his superb work in a 0-0 tie with Argentina at the Meadowlands Sunday night, but truth be told he really rated nothing more than second-best. In just 45 minutes of work, Lionel Messi dazzled the sellout crowd and befuddled the USA. By escaping the kicks and tackles of Pablo Mastroeni and Michael Bradley and clipping balls over and through central defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Danny Califf, Messi repeatedly unhinged the Americans. Only some desperation tackles by Onyewu, Califf and Steve Cherundolo, and the amazing work of Howard kept Argentine forwards Julio Cruz and Sergio Aguero from scoring.

Yet not just the removal of Messi at halftime tipped the balance of play more toward the Americans during a second half they refused to buckle despite losing Mastroeni to a second caution in the 71st minute, about 11 minutes after he'd received the first one.

Another second-session sub, Maurice Edu, helped the USA gain control of midfield with his range and passing as it breached the Argentine back line several times.

Freddy Adu
replaced Clint Dempsey in the 61st minute and withstood so many challenges he suffered four fouls from the impatient Argentines.

Heath Pearce celebrated his third straight start at left back by defending his corner solidly, pushing forward occasionally, and latching onto a clever Bradley header to fire a shot on goal.

While Argentina -- which on Wednesday beat Mexico, 4-1, in San Diego -- held sway in the first half as Messi prompted and probed, the Americans conjured up chances. A deflected Dempsey shot looped just wide, Pearce's first-time shot forced Roberto Abbondzanieri to save at the near post, and a Dempsey cross fell for Eddie Johnson to head right at the goalie.

Howard, though, must have felt as if the field were slanted steeply in his direction. In just the fifth minute, he stopped Cruz twice in a few seconds by blocking his initial, close-range effort and then swatting aside his follow-up shot from an acute angle. He thwarted Cruz twice more in the second half as Messi toyed with his challengers by slipping into the middle to serve his killer balls after testing both flanks in the early minutes.

The halftime subtraction of Messi and addition of Edu had yet to take effect when Landon Donovan ran at the Argentine defense in the opening seconds and won a corner kick that Donovan, celebrating his 100th cap, curled into the goalmouth and Onyewu headed squarely and powerfully off the crossbar.

The pell-mell start by the Americans brought more fans into the game and forged a raucous atmosphere that crested often during an eventful second half. Cruz's attacking partner for most of the match, Sergio Aguero, ran onto a short Cruz feed and jumped over Howard's dive at the ball that caught some of Arguero - and none of the ball - as the Americans cleared, but referee Joel Aguilar Chicas watched Aguero tumble to the ground and then followed the play back upfield.

Another forward-keeper confrontation at the other end didn't turn out so well for the USA. midway through the second half. Eddie Johnson ran onto a great long ball from DaMarcus Beasley and veered at Abbondanzieri, who came out quickly. In his hesitation Johnson pushed a ball into a clump of players, crashed into the keeper, and needed a few minutes to recover from the collision.

A cracking tackle by Edu earned him a caution in the 70th minute, and shortly thereafter referee Chicas also cautioned Mastroeni, apparently for dissent, and after a few moments brandished the red. Javier Mascherano followed him in the 86th minute after a vicious kick took down Donovan at midfield.

Slipping and skidding had increased as a driving rain fell harder in the second half and the 10-v-10 situation opened up gaps in the final minutes. The USA broke away in stoppage time with a three-on-two and Donovan fed Sacha Kljestan on the right flank; Kljestan cut inside to find some space but a desperation tackle blocked his left-footed shot.

The Americans can count themselves fortunate that Messi played only the first half, and that Donovan's tight groin didn't prevent him from lasting until the final minutes. Yet despite its designation as a friendly, this match featured ample portions of the fight and intensity and bite of the games that do matter.

For the purposes of preparation and precision as well as pride, matter they do, as witnessed by 78,682 fans, a national TV audience, and perhaps tens of millions of disbelieving Argentines.

FRIENDLY
June 8 in East Rutherford, N.J.


USA -- Howard, Cherundolo, Onyewu (DeMerit, 61), Califf, Pearce (Lewis, 78), Bradley (Edu, 46), Mastroeni, Dempsey (Adu, 61), Donovan, Beasley (Hejduk, 91+), Johnson (Kljestan, 74).

Argentina - Abbondanzieri, Rodriguez, Burdisso (Demichelis, 46), Heinze, Zabaleta (Zanetti, 77), Gago, Rodriguez (Cavenaghi, 74), Mascherano, Cruz (Lopez, 64), Aguero (Banega, 88), Messi (Sosa, 46).

Stats: USA/ARG
Shots: 9/10
Shots on goal: 4/7
Saves: 7/5
Corner Kicks: 7/6
Fouls: 19/18
Offside: 3/2

Misconduct Summary
ARG - Nicolas Burdisso (caution) 18th minute.
USA - Pablo Maestroeni (caution) 60.
USA - Maurice Edu (caution) 70.
USA - Pablo Maestroeni (caution) 71.
USA - Pablo Maestroeni (sent off) 71.
ARG - Gabriel Heinze (caution) 84.
ARG - Lisandro Lopez (caution) 84.
ARG - Javier Mascherano (caution) 86.
ARG - Javier Mascherano (caution) 86.
ARG - Javier Mascherano (sent off) 86.

Referee: Joel Aguilar Chicas (El Salvador)

Att.: 78,682



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Becky Burleigh    
"I think the whole world thinks the schedule we play now is crazy. It's a physical ...
The Quickest Goal in Bundesliga history    
[VIDEO PICK: Golazo] The Bundesliga kicked off last weekend and Bayer Leverkusen got off to a ...
Why Totti's not a goalkeeper     
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] The great Italian goalscorer Francesco Totti provided a clip for the ...
D.C. United and Galaxy revive historic rivalry    
[MLS: Week 25]Not since the early years of MLS has a matchup of D.C. United and ...
Red Bulls open with 2-0 victory over FAS    
[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The New York Red Bulls opened their Concacaf Champions League campaign with a ...
Sauerbrunn wins second NWSL Defender of the Year award    
[AWARDS] FC Kansas City's Becky Sauerbrunn repeated as the NWSL Defender of the Year after again ...
Jones ready to try anything to shake up Revolution    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Jermaine Jones will be separated from his family in Los Angeles by more than ...
What They're Saying: MK Dons fans    
"You're getting sacked in the morning." -- The chant by MK Dons fans in the direction ...
What They're Saying: Louis van Gaal & Karl Robinson    
"I am not shocked. Because I know what can happen. A new team is not built ...
Crew defender Gonzalez completes move to Palermo    
[MLS TRANSACTIONS] After just 17 games -- all starts -- the Columbus Crew transferred Costa Rican ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives