The United States’ run at Copa America Centenario came to an abrupt end at the hands of the world’s best team.
Argentina scored twice in the first half and once more in the second to hand the U.S. a 4-0 loss in Tuesday’s Copa America semifinal in Houston. The United States awaits the loser of Colombia versus Chile to determine whom they’ll play in the third place match.
In what was a complete domination by Argentina, La Albiceleste got goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lionel Messi and a second-half brace by Gonzalo Higuain in the win.
The United States, on the other hand, had a difficult time threatening the Argentinian net. For the match, the U.S. managed no shots on target.
Argentina opened the scoring three minutes into the game when they made the U.S. pay the ultimate price for a mistake deep in its defensive zone. A failed clearance produced a ball into the box that Ezequiel Lavezzi smoothly headed over Brad Guzan for the early 1-0 lead.
In the 30th minute, Messi doubled the advantage with arguably the goal of the tournament. After he was fouled charging toward goal by Chris Wondolowski -- an infraction that earned him a yellow card -- Messi stepped up from 30 yards out and brilliantly beat Guzan with a bending ball into the upper 90 to make it 2-0.
With Argentina up comfortably at halftime, Higuain made sure there was zero doubt in the second half.
In the 59th minute, Higuain beat the offside trap and poked a ball past Guzan after the U.S. keeper had originally produced a quality save. The rebound went directly back to Higuain who cleaned up his own mess.
Higuain collected his brace four minutes from regulation time when a turnover deep in the U.S. zone wound up at Messi’s feet. Messi dished the ball off to Higuain who finished who zero issue to make it 4-0.
The United States can still surpass its best result in Copa America history with a win in the third place game. In 1995, they finished fourth in Uruguay -- a tournament that included a 3-0 victory over Argentina.
Turning point: Messi’s goal was otherworldly. Not only did it make it 2-0, but you could feel his 30-yard blast suck the life out of the stadium and deflate any aspirations the United States had of winning the match. It truly was a thing of beauty.
The goal was also the 55th of Messi’s international career, making his the most illustrious goal-scorer in Argentina’s long stories history. With the goal, he surpassed Gabriel Bastituta’s record of 54.
Man of the Match: While Higuain scored twice, you’d be hard pressed not to give Messi the nod. His goal in the first half was that special. And, he assisted with Higuain’s second goal with time winding off the clock.
San Jose Earthquakes report: Chris Wondolowski started for the United State in place of Bobby Wood. The forward was substituted for at halftime, replaced by Christian Pulisic, the teenager making waves as a member of the German Bundesliga. The United States’ play in the midfield failed to produce quality chances for either.
Up Next: The U.S. still has one game to go and it could still prove to be historic. The United States travels to University of Phoenix Stadium for a June 25 match against either Colombia or Chile to determine the third place finisher at Copa America Centenario.
A win means the best finish ever for United States team in the 100-year-old tournament.