Monday, March 28, 2011


by Dick Mac

A friend took me to see USA v Argentina at the New Meadowlands Stadium Saturday night.

Argentina is a very exciting team to watch, so loaded with talent that when one of their star players is injured, there are plenty of stars behind him to pick-up the slack.

Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world today, is Argentinian. With his club, FC Barcelona, on break to accommodate a week of international matches, he was dressed in the familiar blue and white strip of his national team.

Carlos Tevez, one of the best players in the English Premier League and a striker for Manchester City FC, is nursing an injury and was unable to play. I don't think he even made the trip to New York.

Led by manager, Sergio Batista, Messi and his teammates spent the first half conducting a clinic in passing. The ball went from player to player with ease as Argentina moved the ball into the US end regularly and with ease. Esteban Cambiasso scored in the 42nd minute and the first half ended that way: USA 0-1 ARG.

Messi was joined by Captain Javier Mascherano, who played in England for a number of years but is now with his fellow countryman at Barcelona, Javier Zanetti, who has enjoyed a long career at Internazionale (Milan), Nicola Burdisso, who played a number of years at Inter and is now at Roma, Gabriel Milito also of Barcelona FC, the young Marcos Rojo playing at Sparta Moskow, Ever Banega, who plays for Boca Juniors in Buenos Aries, a shaven-headed Esteban Cambiasso, of Inter Milan, the amazing young Angel di Maria from Real Madrid, Ezequiel Lavezzi, who plays at Naapoli (Naples), and goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, who plays at Catania.

The Argentinian goalkeeper did not see much action in the first half.

The USA made a key substitution in the second half, bringing in young 18-year-old Juan Aguedelo, who hails from Red Bull New York, having been brought up through the RBNY academy. Aguedelo appears much older than his years as his level of maturity surpasses many of his teammates' and almost all of the Argentinians.

In fact, the Argentinian side is very baby-like with lots of drama and whining, and as most of them are of Italian descent, it is often more like watching an opera than a sporting event. I tire of the histrionics and am offended more deeply when an American behaves that way.

Agudelo was joined by captain Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Oguchi Onyewu (Twente, on loan from AC Milan), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver, of MLS), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn), Maurice Edu, (Rangers, Scotland), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles, MLS), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor, on loan from Villareal), and goalkeeper Tim Howard (Everton). USA is coached by Bob Bradley.

Aguedelo scored in the 59th minute to bring the score even and fill me with pride as he played along with other New York products, Altidore, Howard, and Bradely, and his current RBNY teammate, Tim Ream, who did not see action in this match.

Although Argentina dominated the first half, this was not true in the second half and the boys in blue and white resorted to quite a bit of diving and exaggeration as the USA player began to connect passes and make runs at the goal.

Try as they might, Argentina could not score another goal. Even with Messi dragging three American defenders around the box with him and still managing to get shots off his foot, the match ended in a 1-1 draw (which might be deemed a victory for the USA).

It was below freezing most of the match and there was no tailgating for us.

If you have never been to an international soccer match, I recommend it. The sell-out crowd of 79,000+ fans at the Meadowlands all had a great time and some day you should join us.

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