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Global Jun 21, 2016

USMNT facing Argentina tonight in Copa America semifinals

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(Via U.S. Soccer) – After leaving Seattle with a 2-1 win against Ecuador in the quarterfinals of Copa America Centenario, the U.S. Men’s National Team hosts the world’s No. 1-ranked team, Argentina, in Houston with a place in the final on the line. Kickoff from NRG Stadium is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast on FS1, Univision, and Univision Deportes Network.

Here are some storylines to follow:

One Unbeaten Run Will End: Both of the sides come into the match on winning streaks. The MNT head into Houston on the heels of three consecutive victories, while Argentina is the only team of Copa America Centenario to have won all four of their matches.

Offense vs Defense: Boasted by the likes of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina cruised through Group D scoring 10 goals and put four past Venezuela in the quarterfinals. The attacking juggernaut will face a U.S. defense that has not allowed a goal from the run of play in six games, dating back to a friendly on May 25 against Ecuador.

U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), 12-Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), 22-Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)

DEFENDERS (8): 5-Matt Besler (Sporting KC), 3-Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), 6-JohnBrooks (Hertha Berlin), 20-Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), 21-Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), 23-Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), 14-Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

MIDFIELDERS/FORWARDS (12): 15-Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), 11-AlejandroBedoya (Nantes), 4-Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), 8-Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), 13-Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), 16-Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), 10-Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), 17-Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), 18-Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), 7-Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), 20-Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), 19-Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

FORCED CHANGES: After maintaining the same Starting XI throughout the group stage, the U.S. will once again have to change their lineup. Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya and Bobby Wood will miss the semifinal due to suspension. However, DeAndre Yedlin returns after missing the quarterfinal due to yellow card accumulation.

DEMPSEY SCORING STREAK: Back in his home state, the Texan is looking to find the back of the net for the fourth consecutive game. Dempsey opened the scoring in the MNT’s past three games, including the game winners against Costa Rica and Paraguay to cap off the group stage. His latest goal was the 52nd of his international career, leaving him five shy of Landon Donovan’s all-time record (57) for an MNT player.

ZARDES ON TARGET: The first goal for Gyasi Zardes in the Copa America Centenario couldn’t have come at a better time. His finish in the 65th minute proved to be the goal that pushed the U.S. past Ecuador in the quarterfinals. The finish was his sixth of his international career.

KLINSMANN FACT FILE: With the win against Ecuador in Seattle, Jurgen Klinsmann has led the MNT to a 9-2-0 record in 2016. The 2-1 quarterfinal victory marked the 52nd of Klinsmann’s tenure, and kept his winning percentage in official competition above .700, making him the all-time leader amongst MNT coaches. In May, Jurgen Klinsmann set a goal of reaching the Copa America Centenario semifinals. Having reached the final four, he’s aiming to guide the U.S. to even greater heights.

COPA AMERICA MEETINGS: The U.S. and Argentina have met twice in the tournament’s history. In their first Copa America meeting in 1995, the U.S. used goals from Frank Klopas, Alexi Lalas and Eric Wynalda to beat Argentina 3-0 en route to a fourth-place finish in the tournament. In 2007, Eddie Johnson gave the U.S. an early lead, but minutes later Hernan Crespo equalized and Argentina went on to win 4-1.

FACING #1: Argentina are currently ranked top in the latest FIFA Rankings. In 2008, with Argentina ranked number one in the world, the sides played out a 0-0 draw in East Rutherford, N.J. The last MNT meeting against the world’s top-ranked team came last summer, when the U.S. were victorious 2-1 against World Cup champion Germany in Cologne.

USA Update

  • With the win against Ecuador, coupled with Mexico’s loss to Chile, the MNT are the only remaining CONCACAF team left in Copa America Centenario. Never has a CONCACAF side won Copa America, but with a win against Argentina the U.S. could become the first to make the final since 2001.
  • The U.S. have reached the semifinals of Copa America for the second time in four appearances. In 1995, the MNT lost to Brazil 1-0 in semifinals and finished fourth.
  • Clint Dempsey set up the goal by Gyasi Zardes against Ecuador, increasing his tournament-leading assist total to three. Dempsey has been involved in six of the teams seven goals in the tournament.
  • Two MNT players made their Copa America Centenario debuts against Ecuador. Matt Besler replaced DeAndre Yedlin in the starting lineup and Steve Birnbaum came on for Zardes in the 94th minute of the quarterfinal win.
  • Although Bobby Wood and Alejandro Bedoya are suspended, all bookings are wiped heading into the semifinals meaning no player will miss the final due to yellow card accumulation.

VS. ARGENTINA

  • The MNT Is 2-6-2 in 10 all-time meetings with Argentina dating back to the 1930 World Cup.
  • The last meeting was a friendly in 2011, when Juan Agudelo canceled out Esteban Cambiasso’s goal in a 1-1 draw.

ARGENTINA COPA AMERICA CENTENARIO ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Mariano Andújar (Estudiantes La Plata, ARG), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres UANL, MEX), Sergio Romero (Manchester United, ENG)

DEFENDERS (7): Victor Cuesta (Independiente, ARG), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton, ENG), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate, ARG), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate, ARG), Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City, ENG), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United, ENG), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina, ITA)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Éver Banega (Sevilla, ESP), Lucas Biglia (Lazio, ITA), Augusto Fernández (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Matías Kranevitter (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, ESP), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ESP), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA)

FORWARDS (6): Sergio Agüero (Manchester City, ENG), Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli, ITA), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), Ángel Di María (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Nicolás Gaitán (Benfica, POR), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebeir China Fortune, CHN)

  • Argentina is managed by former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino, who took over in August of 2014.  
  • They’ve been champions of South America 14 times, but haven’t lifted any trophy since 1993. In 2015, Argentina made the final but lost to Chile on penalty kicks.
  • Argentina have notched 14 goals so far, tied with Chile for the most in the tournament.
  • Despite missing the first match, Messi leads the team with four goals. Gonzalo Higuain and Erik Lamela have two apiece.
  • Messi’s goal in the quarterfinal against Venezuela was his 54th international goal, tying him with Gabriel Batistuta for most all-time for Argentina.
  • In addition to their attacking prowess, La Albiceleste have only allowed two goals in four games, the least of any team in the tournament. The defense has been anchored by English Premier League duo Sergio Romero and Nicolas Otamendi.
  • Argentina will be without forward Nicolas Gaitan, who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Venezuela.
  • Only four of Argentina’s players play their club football domestically. Defenders Jonathan Maidana and Gabriel Mercado play for River Plate, while Victor Cuesta and Mariano Andujar play for Independiente and Estudiantes, respectively.
  • PSG winger Angel Di Maria has missed Argentina’s last two games with an injury, but could return for the semifinal.
  • Argentina currently sit third in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying. They’ll face group leaders Uruguay on September 1 in their next match.

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