USA-Argentina Copa America Live: Lionel Messi Leads Semifinal Blowout Of USMNT

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June 21, 2016

Final, 4-0 Argentina: The referee mercifully blows the final whistle, as Argentina coasts into the final.

U.S. fans were anticipating a night of potential jubilation, but Argentina delivered a sobering reality check. Argentina’s four-goal victory reflects the gulf in class between the two teams on this night in particular. Argentina played near its devastating top level. The United States reserved its worst performance in Copa America 2016 for its biggest night.

Messi was the star man, scoring one goal and assisting on two more.

The U.S. failed to muster a shot on goal on a sobering night.

Argentina advances to the final, where it can end its 23-year wait for a major title at senior level Sunday.

The United States will play the loser of Colombia-Chile on Saturday in the third-place game.

That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion coming up on NESN.com/soccer.

Postgame analysis of USA-Argentina >>

90th minute, 4-0 Argentina: There will be a minimum of three minutes of added time in the second half.

86th minute, 4-0 Argentina: Birnbaum loses Bradley’s pass. It rolls to Messi, who sets up Higuain for another goal.

84th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Victor Cuesta replaces Rojo in Argentina’s final substitution.

83rd minute, 3-0 Argentina: Messi forces Guzan to make another save, as Argentina beats the offside trap and creates a chance on the counter-attack … again.

83rd minute, 3-0 Argentina: With his substitutions, Klinsmann gives squad players a chance to to participate in Copa America 2016. Pulisic, Birnbaum and Nagbe played key roles in warm-up games and undoubtedly have been valuable behind the scenes.

Their inclusion in this game suggests Klinsmann will field his strongest team Saturday in the third-place game.

78th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Darlington Nagbe replaces Dempsey in the United States’ final substitution.

77th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Lamela shoots wide on the counter-attack.

77th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Pulisic nearly has Team USA’s first shot on goal, but a defender blocks his sliced effort before it reaches the target.

75th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Argentina is managing game nicely, spreading the field and making Team USA work when in possession and closing down space quickly when it doesn’t have the ball.

71st minute, 3-0 Argentina: The U.S. still has 20 minutes to avoid an infamous end to this Copa America semifinal.

68th minute, 3-0 Argentina: More Messi on the counter-attack, as Argentina races forward following a U.S. corner kick. The sequence ends when Fabian Johnson races back to deflect Messi’s pass out for a corner kick.

67th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Erik Lamela replaces Lavezzi.

66th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Play resumes again, as medical staff stretchers Lavezzi off the field.

Messi creates another scoring chance on the dribble, but his pass can’t reach Mascherano before Guzan collects it.

63rd minute, 3-0 Argentina: Lavezzi falls awfully over the sideline advertising boards. He looks to be seriously injured.

62nd minute, 3-0 Argentina: Marcos Rojo becomes the second Argentina player to limp off the field.

60th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Steve Birnbaum takes Beckerman’s place on the field, as Klinsmann makes his second substitution.

59th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Augusto Fernandez is down on the field with an apparent injury. The Argentina midfielder limps to the sideline.

Lucas Biglia replaces Fernandez in Argentina’s first substitution.

57th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Higuain hits the post, but the play won’t count, as he was ruled offside.

55th minute, 3-0 Argentina: The rest of the game is shaping up to be a face-saving excercise for Team USA. After conceding early goals in both halves and falling behind by three goals, the drama and tension largely have eveparoted from the game.

Team USA now has one important mission. Don’t lose 7-0, as Mexico did against Chile last Saturday in the quarterfinals.

50th minute, 3-0 Argentina: Higuain gives Argentina a three-goal lead.

Lavezzi played Higuain into the area, beating the offside trap. Guzan saved Higuain’s first shot, but the Argentina striker recovered the rebound and poked it home.

Higuain is hot by his own lofty standards.

46th minute, 2-0 Argentina: The second half of the Copa America 2016 semifinal is under way.

The U.S. made a substitution at halftime, replacing Wondolowski with Christian Pulisic, a 17-year-old winger who makes his first appearance in Copa America 2016.

Team USA must do better in the second half.

Halftime, 2-0 Argentina: The first half is over. Argentina leads by two goals to none.

Argentina means business, and there’s apparently nothing Team USA can do to stop it. Messi set up Lavezzi’s early goal then scored one himself, as Argentina inflicts a soccer lesson in Team USA’s big day.

The U.S. failed to demonstrate the qualities that took it to the semifinals. Tactical organization and mental strength have abandoned Team USA, and the gulf in quality between the teams is alarmingly apparent. The U.S. had two extra days’ rest, but Argentina is eliminating that advantage by dominating and using its width.

If there’s a way back into this game for Team USA, we don’t know what it is.

Argentina is 45 minutes away from a place in the final.

45th minute +1, 2-0 Argentina: Lavezzi appears to have scored a third goal, but the referee’s assistant rules the Argentina forward offside.

Lavezzi suffered an apparent injury in a post-shot collision with Guzan.

45th minute, 2-0 Argentina: There will be a minimum of one minute of added time in the first half.

43rd minute, 2-0 Argentina: Otamendi heads Zardes’ dangerous cross clear of the penalty area. It’s the first moment of real danger Team USA has created against Argentina.

39th minute, 2-0 Argentina: The U.S. had a brief surge into Argentina’s penalty area, but nothing came of it.

Argentina’s dominance continues.

32nd minute, 2-0 Argentina: Messi puts the free kick into the top corner and doubles Argentina’s lead.

Messi overtakes Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer. Messi now has scored 12 times in games played on U.S. soil — the most of any country outside Argentina.

31st minute, 1-0 Argentina: The referee shows Wondolowski a yellow card for a cynical foul on Messi.

27th minute, 1-0 Argentina: It’s still all Argentina, as the U.S. is enduring staggering deficits in possession and territory. Argentina’s relentless possession is bound to lead to another goal if the game continues in this fashion.

22nd minute, 1-0 Argentina: A quick free kick creates a chance for Higuain to score Argentina’s second goal, but Geoff Cameron intervenes at the last moment to tip the ball to a grateful Guzan.

18th minute, 1-0 Argentina: The U.S. has failed to gain a foothold into the game, while Argentina plays comfortably from this familiar position.

15th minute, 1-0 Argentina: Argentina hits on the coutner-attack. Messi drives forward and fires a left-footed shot on goal. Guzan saves it at the near post.

13th minute, 1-0 Argentina: Team USA remains compact in defense, as Argentina prods in possession. The tactics limit scoring chances, but the quality of Argentina’s chances is more important than quantity.

Eighth minute, 1-0 Argentina: Messi shoots over the crossbar, as Argentina searches for the second goal.

Sixth minute, 1-0 Argentina: The U.S. is trying to sustain its aggression in an effort to prevent the absolute nightmare scenario of a two-goal deficit from coming to fruition. Team USA is pressing Argentina hard, but the South Americans’ sharp and high-tempo passing creates opening in the U.S. defense.

Third minute, 1-0 Argentina: Lavezzi heads a shot past Guzan, giving Argentina a dream start.

The goal came on a short corner-kick routine, and Messi set up Lavezzi with a chipped pass over the top of the U.S. defense. U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan was indecisive at the fateful moment.

Lavezzi’s was historically fast, much to Team USA’s chagrin.

Messi’s creativity devestates the U.S. defense early on.

Third minute, 0-0: Argentina has controlled possession early on, pushing the game straight into the U.S. half and keeping it there.

Kickoff: The Copa America 2016 semifinal between the United States and Argentina is under way.

Present-day and historical statistics suggest this game is Argentina’s to lose.

Pregame: U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann relied on consistency to navigate through the group stage and quarterfinal, but circumstances have compelled him to change his starting lineup.

Chris Wondolowski’s surprise start in place of Wood is a major talking point. The veteran forward (and enduring Klinsmann favorite) has a chance to make amends for his miss in the loss to Belgium in the round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He makes his Copa America 2016 debut.

DeAndre Yedlin returns from suspension to take up his right-back position. He conceded a penalty kick in the loss to Colombia and was sent off in the win over Paraguay. There’s no time for the present for Yedlin to redeem his previously shaky performances.

Midfielder Graham Zusi makes his first start of the tournament, nominally in place of Bedoya. Zusi has appeared in a substitute in Team USA’s four previous games at Copa America 2016.

Kyle Beckerman takes up residence in central midfield after appearing as a substitute in the last three games. Beckerman likely shield the defense in a deeper-lying role than the one Jones played, pushing Michael Bradley further forward than he has played throughout Copa America.

Bradley could provide Clint Dempsey, who has powered Team USA’s offense, with valuable service from an advanced midfield role. Bradley and Dempsey are the two remaining holdovers from the United States’ shock win over then- top-ranked Spain in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Argentina’s lineup is strong, particularly the scary front three of Messi, Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Javier Mascherano will play as a holding midfielder in front of a back four, which includes Ramiro Funes Mori, who lived in the Dallas area from age 10 to 17.

8:30 p.m.: Here are the starting lineups:

United States

Argentina

8 p.m. ET: The United States men’s national soccer team has arrived at its moment of truth.

Team USA meets Argentina on Tuesday in Houston in the semifinals of Copa America 2016. At stake in Team USA’s biggest game in two years is a chance to extend its Copa America joyride into Sunday’s final and the opportunity for its players to prove themselves against the world’s best team and best player, Lionel Messi.

Argentina is red-hot, having won eight consecutive games, including all four Copa America 2016 contests to date. Much of the focus centers on Messi, but Argentina has other weapons. Eight Argentina players have scored in Copa America 2016, the most variety of any team in the tournament.

The United States has reached this point through timely goals, particularly those of Clint Dempsey, and a rigid defense. Team USA has conceded just three goals in four games, with none coming from open play.

Argentina has scored 12 of its 14 goals from open play. If Team USA can sustain its defensive competence against Argentina, it might have a chance to shock the soccer and sports world.

The U.S. will be without missing the manpower of three starters, as Alejandro Bedoya, Jermaine Jones and Bobby Wood are suspended for yellow and red cards they received during the tournament.

Argentina’s Nicolas Gaitan also will miss the game due to yellow-card suspension.

USA-Argentina kicks off at 9 p.m. Join us right here for all the action from NRG Stadium.

Click for our USA-Argentina preview >>

Thumbnail photo via Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jun 16, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; United States forward Clint Dempsey (left) celebrates his goal against Ecuador during the first half of quarter-final play in the 2016 Copa America Centenario soccer tournament at Century Link Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
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