Copa America Centenario: Argentina steamrolls USA, advances to the Final
Before leaving injured, Pocho Lavezzi was a force on the wing for Argentina. (Photo via @CA2016 on Twitter)

A power play. The domination by Argentina in the first half looked as if they were up a man or two, even though they were not. The US, which rolled out a conservative lineup that included Chris Wondowloski, Kyle Beckerman, and Graham Zusi looked flat from the first whistle. 

Early Worm

The large gulf in class between the two nations was quite evident from the first moments, especially when Pocho Lavezzi headed home a Leo Messi chip in the third minute to give Argentina the early lead. The Yanks had once again given up a set piece goal, and any chance of the US getting an upper hand on the world's #1 ranked team (per the FIFA Rankings) evaporated. 

It is no secret that there is a gap in talent between the US and Argentina, but the US just were terrible in the first half. There is no way around it, the Yanks could not muster up anything to counter what Argentina brought to the table in the first half. Every single time an American recovered the ball or displaced the ball from an Argentina player the US immediately coughed it right back up. 

Best - Bad

Michael Bradley continued his torrid form in large matches, having trouble in keeping the ball on his feet or containing the magician that is Leo Messi. The Toronto FC man almost gifted Messi a goal in the 15th minute. On the American counter, Bradley once again gave the ball up easily in the midfield. Messi ran past the American captain, dribbled around a defender, and had his shot saved by Guzan. 

Messi would have his moment not too long after, though. After being tackled by Chris Wondolowski, Messi had a chance on a free kick from his sweet spot. The best player on the planet made everyone in the stadium drop their jaws as he placed the ball perfectly in the upper 90 past Guzan to double Argentina's lead in the 32nd minute. With the goal, Messi became Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer.

Improvement?

The American's only chances at goal came from DeAndre Yedlin (a right back!). Yedlin had two similar quick crosses in the latter stage of the half that went untouched in the six-yard box. besides that, nothing else was created by America in the first half. 

Despite the all awaited arrival of USA and Borussia Dortmund youngster Christian Pulisic at the start of the second half, it only took Argentina five minutes to put the match out of reach. Though his first shot was saved, Gonzalo Higuain put the rebound home in the 50th minute after being sent in behind and made it 3-0 Argentina. Before the goal, the US had actually looked a bit positive going forward with the ball, but a third for the visitors made it impossible for Jurgen Klinsmann and his men to rally and come back. 

The scorer of Argentina's first goal, Lavezzi, appeared to have suffered a gruesome injury in the 63rd minute when he backpedaled and tumbled over the ad board. It appeared on replay that he might have broken his arm and bloodied his head. He was replaced by Erik Lamela, who will probably replace Pocho if he is not fit for the final on Sunday.

Higuain has scored four goals in two knockout stage matches (Photo via @CA2016 on Twitter)
Higuain has scored four goals in two knockout stage matches. (Photo via @CA2016 on Twitter)
 

Higuain secured his second straight match with a brace in the late stages of the match when he gladly accepted Messi's pass and put the ball into an empty net. 

Not as Bad as Mexico

Despite keeping some possession and connecting passes for the first time in the match, the US still did not have a shot for the entire match. As for positives, the US didn't lose 7-0! In reality, though, Pulisic showed Klinsmann in the second half why he should have started the match. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, the 17-year-old looked to create at every opportunity. DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks continued to be outstanding despite having to defend for nearly 90 minutes. 

Last Step

Argentina advances to La Gran Final on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in New jersey, where they will face the winner of Chile - Colombia. The United States, on the other hand, heads to Glendale for the third place match on Saturday. 

VAVEL Logo