Argentina-South Korea

Argentina-South Korea

By Matt O'Leary
CSNNE.com

Argentina produced one of the best performances of the World Cup with a 4-1 romp over South Korea. The Germans had made a strong case for top title challengers with their slightly surprising 4-0 rout over Australia earlier in the week, but Argentinas performance at Soccer City matched that of the Germans. The Argentinians looked very dangerous going forward and probably could have scored 6 or 7 against the Koreans.

Soccer City Stadium was full of Argentina fans and they were in top spirits even before the kickoff. Getting into the national stadium proved as difficult and as stressful as it was for the Netherlands-Denmark game on Monday. We drove in from the opposite direction hoping to park closer to the stadium and to avoid traffic. We were unsuccessful in both regards. We sat in an hour and a half of traffic on Monday, and today had to sit in bumper to bumper traffic for about 45 minutes before finally giving up and parking in a patch of dirt on the side of Nasrec Road.

Local African guys were again showing their entrepreneurial characters by parking fans cars and charging 50 rand each. Each patch of dirt had a different group of guys running the show but the South African police were not too far away, keeping an eye on things. Every cardboard sign held up by the local entrepreneurs advertised the same thing; safe parking. The guys that parked our car promised that it would not only be safe but that it also would not be blocked in, an improvement on our prior parking situations. They made us sign something so I have no idea what that was or what their thinking was behind it, but we found our car safe and sound after the game and all the guys had been very friendly.

Walking to the stadium, it was the usual set up of locals trying to sell you everything from flags to cell phones. One girl, no older than ten years old, held her cardboard sign in front of us and asked if we wanted safe parking even though we were walking past her and were no longer in a car.

Inside the ground, the Koreans had a bigger fan contingent than I was anticipating and from my viewpoint there were three large red sections of South Korean fans. There were probably at least 1500 in each of the three sections, and the group behind one of the corner flags spent the entire match standing. Two humongous South Korea flags were sprinted up the lower sections of the stadium during their national anthem. It was very impressive and covered maybe 25-35 rows of fans, an operation only the Koreans could pull off.

The sky blue and white of Argentina dominated Soccer City though, and once they broke out in song it could be heard throughout the stadium. I wish I understood the words to a particular song because once they started singing, every Argentinean fan in the stadium stood up and bounced on the balls of their feet until the song ended. I never thought the Argentinean fans would produce a better atmosphere than the Dutch but they certainly did and it only got louder every time their heroes hit the back of the net.

Argentina played a fluent, attacking style with Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez leading the line. Gonzalo Higuan eventually got his hat-trick but for me, Messis eloquent skill and Tevezs unstoppable work rate were more important for Argentinas overall performance. They proved themselves to be one of the favorites and should they hang on to win Group B and the Germans win Group D, the two historic nations could square off in the quarterfinals.

Argentina will have an easier path in the round of 16, as they will play against the second placed team of Group A (probably Uruguay or Mexico). The Germans, however, will probably match up against either the USA or England in the last 16 and either contest would prove a strong challenge.

DC United tops Revolution 2-0

DC United tops Revolution 2-0

WASHINGTON -- Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Saturday night.

D.C., after being shut out in its two previous games and four of six, opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Luciano Acosta chipped a perfect pass over the defense to the foot of Neagle, who volleyed it in from 10 yards out.

Sean Franklin scored the second goal, his first of the season, when he knocked in Neagle's cross. Albaro Saborio sent a long ball down the right sideline that Neagle ran down and crossed to Franklin for the easy counter.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference with its fourth shutout in the last seven games and improved to 2-0-1 in the series this season.

Messi leads Argentina over U.S. 4-0, into Copa America final

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Messi leads Argentina over U.S. 4-0, into Copa America final

HOUSTON — Lionel Messi was too much for the United States to contain.

The five-time world player of the year set up Ezequiel Lavezzi's opening goal in the third minute, then scored on a free kick to break Argentina's career scoring record and assisted on the final goal in a 4-0 rout of the U.S. on Tuesday night that put the La Albiceleste into the Copa America final.

"This was the goal when we got here, to play another final and we made it," Messi said. "We've been spectacular from day one and we deserved this."

After Messi doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with his 55th international goal, his tournament-leading fifth, Gonzalo Higuain quickly ended U.S. comeback hopes when he put the rebound of his initial shot past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 50th. Higuain scored off a Messi pass in the 86th.

Argentina will seek its first major title since the 1993 Copa — and its first since Messi's debut in 2005 — when it plays Chile or Colombia on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

"That's what we hope and what we want, to finally achieve that," Messi said. "We deserve it, for all the good work we've been doing all these years."

It might be missing Lavezzi, who fell backward over an advertising sign board and appeared to land hard on his left arm at about the 60th minute. Lavezzi was able to get up several minutes later and left on a cart.

Hosting a special, expanded 16-nation edition of South America's championship to celebrate Copa America's 100th anniversary, the U.S. won a difficult group that included third-ranked Colombia and then beat No. 13 Ecuador in the quarterfinals. But top-ranked Argentina and Messi, who turns 29 Friday and is at the top of his game, outclassed the U.S. from the opening whistle and stunned the sellout crowd of 70,858 at NRG Stadium.

Messi has helped Barcelona win eight titles in Spain's La Liga and four in the Champions League, but his Argentina trophies have been limited to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship for players under 20 and the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, mostly for players under 23. La Albiceleste lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and to Chile in last year's Copa America final.

The U.S. and coach Jurgen Klinsmann were trying to rebound after getting eliminated by Jamaica in the semifinals of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, losing to Mexico in a playoff for a 2017 Confederations Cup berth and struggling in the semifinal round of 2018 World Cup qualifying. The Americans close the tournament Saturday in the third-place match at Glendale, Arizona.

Klinsmann inserted midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Graham Zusi into his lineup along with forward Chris Wondolowski because of suspensions assessed to midfielders Jermaine Jones and Alejandro Bedoya, and forward Bobby Wood. In an effort to spark offense, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic entered at the start of the second half, and Steve Birnbaum came on in the 60th for Beckerman, allowing Geoff Cameron to move up to midfield, and Darlington Nagbe replaced Clint Dempsey in the 78th.

Argentina went ahead when Lavezzi played a short corner kick to Ever Banega, who passed back to Lavezzi sprinting from the corner diagonally. Lavezzi beat Fabian Johnson to the ball and poked it to Messi about 25 yards out, in the center of the field. As the U.S. defense started to come out, Messi one-timed a flick with his left foot over the back line to Lavezzi, who got to the ball ahead of Kyle Beckerman about 7 yards from the goal. He headed the ball over Guzan, who had started to come off his line.

Messi doubled the lead after Beckerman slipped and Chris Wondolowski took down Messi, earning a yellow card. Klinsmann screamed at Paraguayan referee Eduardo Cardozo as Messi placed the ball about 26 yards out, a few yards closer to the goal than the foul. After the U.S. set up its wall, Messi bent a beautiful curving drive that went just over Guzan's outstretched left palm and into the upper corner.

Messi moved one ahead Gabriel Batistuta's career total, according to the Argentine Football Association. However, FIFA records Batistuta's total as 56, including two goals in an exhibition against Slovakia in June 1995.

Higuain scored when he burst past John Brooks for Lavezzi's pass and one-timed a shot that Guzan stopped with a diving save, then poked the rebound into an open net. Messi nearly added a goal in the 83rd with a 20-yard shot that Guzan palmed to safety.

Feldman: Terrific goal by Rowe to win the game

Feldman: Terrific goal by Rowe to win the game

Brad Feldman and Paul Mariner break down the New England Revolution’s victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps behind the goals from London Woodberry and Kelyn Rowe.