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The 10th time a charm?
by Mike Woitalla, March 25th, 2011 3:31AM



[USA-ARGENTINA HISTORY] The USA goes into Saturday's friendly having played Argentina nine times – a series that started with the Americans being outscored 23-3 in the first three encounters but includes three of the best U.S. performances in its national team history.

The first time the teams met, Argentina beat the USA 11-2 at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. It was a single-elimination tournament, which meant the Americans had taken a long boat ride to play one game.

In Game 2, Argentina won, 6-1, at the inaugural World Cup in 1930 in Uruguay in the semifinals. (Argentina lost the final, 4-2, to the host.)

Only 1,500 fans showed up at Azteca Stadium in 1975 when the USA played Argentina in a four-team Mexico City exhibition tournament that also included Costa Rica and the host. The U.S. team, coached by Manfred Schellscheidt, hadn’t practiced together before the trip and fell 6-0. Osvaldo Ardiles scored twice for the Argentine squad that included 1978 World Cup hero Mario Kempes.

The nations’ fourth encounter came in 1991, early in Coach Bora Milutinovic’s prep work for the 1994 World Cup, and the Argentines won just 1-0 in California.

At the 1995 Copa America – the second time the USA played in the South American championship – the USA opened with a 2-1 win over Chile and fell to Bolivia (on a Marco Etcheverry goal). Playing in Paysandu, Uruguay, just a few miles from the Argentine border, the USA beat Argentina for the first time.

Frank Klopas, Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda scored in the 3-0 win that led to a fourth-place finish at the Copa America and earned interim coach Steve Sampson the job full-time.

”A black night” and “A historic slap in the face” were headlines in the Argentine press.

The teams meet again four years later almost to the day in a Washington, D.C., friendly. Coach Bruce Arena had been on the job for eight months when on June 13, 1999 the USA beat Argentina for the second straight time – a 1-0 win thanks to a goal by Joe-Max Moore.

In 2003, the Americans -- coached by Bob Bradley and captained by Clint Mathis -- fell, 1-0, in a Florida friendly.

In 2007, Bradley took a team of mainly second-stringers to the Copa America in Venezuela and lost, 4-1, to Argentina. Eddie Johnson gave the Americans a lead in the ninth minute from the penalty spot, but Hernan Crespo replied with a goal two minutes later and another early in the second half that was set up by Lionel Messi (four days before his 20th birthday). Pablo Aimar and Carlos Tevez scored the last two goals.

In their last encounter, June of 2008 before 78,682 at the old Meadowlands, Argentina came into the game the world’s No. 1 ranked team and four days after beating Mexico, 4-1, in San Diego.

Thanks much to Tim Howard’s goalkeeping performance, the USA earned a 0-0 tie for a nice boost of confidence before qualifying play began for the 2010 World Cup.

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