In what Jurgen Klinsmann called the biggest international match in American history, his team performed as if he needed to yell that bit louder for it to sink in. The improbable became the impossible, as Team USA simply couldn't keep up with football's global elites, slamming their faces repeatedly into the pitch in a 4-0 defeat.
And it all started very early indeed.
In a sequence that nearly every American football fan old enough to possess vision saw coming, Argentina made an almost unbelievably early statement. As America's eyes followed Lionel Messi, E
Klinsmann's squad had desperately hoped to reach halftime deadlocked at zero (and what a high hope that was!), but even that somewhat-ambitious, yet incredibly boring, goal proved too much for the shellshocked squad.
Another international competition, another early intimidation at the hands of a more experienced and gilded opponent.
But that was the end of the Houston humiliation, surely. After all, there's no one else noteworthy on Argentina.
Oh, wait. 31' into the contest, Lionel Messi stepped to the line for a free kick after an impossibly bad foul, and drilled it into the corner, making him Argentina's all-time leading scorer. Congrats, God.
Despite being overmatched, the one thing America simply couldn't afford to be was careless. Naturally, they often were, directly in front of their own goal, providing Argentina with the perfect amount of cushion. A 2-0 halftime score felt insurmountable, much like a 0-0 pregame score did.
Somehow, it was all further downhill from there. Only four minutes into the second half, Gonzalo Higuain scooped up a sloppy bounce off Guzan, and for the second time in as many halves (and there are only two in a match, after all), Team USA was entirely deflated following an early-half goal.
On a night when they most needed a strong start, they received the exact opposite. This match resembled Chile-Mexico a lot more than it did a rebirth of American competitiveness.
When Higuain scored one final time at 85, it was simply frosting on a remarkably dominant showing.
There certainly was a downside to Argentina's night, however, as Lavezzi suffered what could be a devastating injury midway through the second, toppling over the ad board bordering the pitch. While he was up and moving, early speculation was certainly negative.
Oh my god, I think Lavezzi's arm is broken. That looked nasty.— José Rivera (@whoisjoserivera) June 22, 2016
Hardly what you want en route to a Final. Updates surely to follow.
As the commentators noted during the 79th minute, you could've likely put Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the U.S. team and it wouldn't have made a difference in this contest. Argentina was simply that locked in. America's poor passes and Brad Guzan's surprisingly bouncy goaltending certainly accelerated the final result, but Argentina remains lightyears ahead in this matchup, and Lionel Messi officially sits atop their national throne.
Quite a night, indeed. The winner of Colombia-Chile awaits.