Luis González's early goal sends Argentina to a 1-0 victory.
MIAMI, Fla. (Saturday, February 8, 2003) -- Midfielder Luis González scored early on a nifty give-and-go, giving Argentina the only goal it would need in a 1-0 triumph over the United States in a friendly before 27,196 at the Orange Bowl this afternoon.
"If we could be at fault for anything, I think it is the way we came out and started the game," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. . I thought we demonstrated a lack of confidence in the early going and it took our team 20 minutes to really get in the game. I thought we saw some good performances from some young, quality players for both teams."
Miami continued to be an inhospitable place for the U.S. men who are 2-9-3 here since 1990, 2-5-2 at the Orange Bowl. Argentina snapped a two-game losing streak to the Americans and leads the all-time series 5-2, though the first two wins came in 1928 and 1930.
"We could not get around the ball at all and they had time to do what they wanted, and that hurt us," U.S. attacker Landon Donovan said. "Against a team like Argentina, you have to be ready to play or you will pay for it."
Argentina dominated much of the early play with the precise passing that led to the game's only goal. In the ninth minute, Argentina defender Ariel Garcé passed into the center circle to González who sped down the middle of the field. D'Alesandro passed right to striker Andrés D'Alesandro who put a quickly returned a feed in González's path at the top of the penalty arc. The 22-year-old used his first touch to curl a soft 25-yarder inside the right post, well beyond the dive of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.
"I thought it was a great goal," Arena said. "Gonzalez did very well in catching Tim Howard off the line. (U.S. midfielder) Pablo (Mastroeni) committed too early on the ball and it gave them an opening, and it was a great finish."
The match provided few good scoring chances, but plenty of fouls. Each team committed 20 fouls while three Americans and four Argentines issued yellow cards before D'Alesandro was ejected in stoppage time with his second caution for a dive, a seemingly harsh judgment.
"Obviously we did not come out and play well in the beginning and (Argentina) came out and scored a great goal, and were then comfortable with leaving with a 1-0 win today," Arena said. "They didn’t push their back line or their team forward as much as they did against Mexico and Honduras (in recent games), and that made it extremely difficult to get behind them. So basically, over 90 minutes, we didn’t create too many dangerous goal-scoring opportunities."
The U.S. held a 11-8 shots advantage, but Argentina put three shots on frame to only two for the Americans.
"The Argentine team was superior in the midfield, in particular the ability of D’Alessandro to hold the ball and play -- make a little out of that position," Arena said. "We don’t quite have a player in this group who is capable of doing those types of things. I thought (midfielder Chris) Klein was effective and (midfielder DaMarcus) Beasley was effective. We just didn’t have the creative player in the midfield that Argentina had."
Argentina continued its pressure after intermission with defender Gabriel Milito heading a shot off the goal post, Garcé having a lunging Beasley tackle a shot from five yards out and Howard denying midfielder César Garignano's attempt for the net's right corner.
"We gave them too much time and respect on the ball in the first 15 to 20 minutes," said Mastroeni, who grew up in Argentina before becoming a U.S. citizen in 2001. "We started playing after they scored the goal. We gave a great effort in the second half and created a few good opportunities to equalize. But in the first half, we were getting stretched defensively and they did a good job creating spaces and running off each other. At times, we were outnumbered in the midfield, and in those situations, I need to be more patient."
Argentina was playing its third game in eight days, completing a sweep of CONCACAF opponents after defeating Honduras 3-1 on January 31 and Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday.
The U.S. will leave Monday night for Kingston where it will play Jamaica at National Stadium Wednesday at 7 p.m. (ET).
Argentina 1, United States 0
Lineups: United States -- Tim Howard, Bobby Convey, Carlos Bocanegra (Steve Ralston 90), Dan Califf, Sasha Victorine (Nick Garcia, 56), Pablo Mastroeni, DaMarcus Beasley, Chris Klein (Jeff Cunningham 79), Ben Olsen (Taylor Twellman 46), Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis (captain.). Argentina - Sebastián Saja, Ariel Garcé, Nicolás Burdisso, Gabriel Milito (captain), Sebastián Bataglia, Pablo Guiñazú, Mariano González (César Garignano 46), Luis González, Diego Milito (Clemente Rodríguez 85), Federico Inzúa (Leandro Romagnoli 77), Andrés D'Alesandro.
Shots: United States 11, Argentina 8. Saves: United States 2, Argentina 2. Corner kicks: United States 7, Argentina 6. Fouls: United States 20, Argentina 20. Offside: United States 2, Argentina 2. Yellow card cautions: United States - Olsen 20, Convey 45, Bocanegra 71; Argentina - D'Alesandro 13, Milito 42, Inzúa 54, Guiñazú 74. Red card ejection: D'Alesandro (second yellow card) 91+.
Referee: Carlos Beltran (Guatemala). Assistant referees: Fredy de Paz (Guatemala), Gregorio Pineda (Guatemala). Attendance: 27,196 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. Weather: 81 degrees, warm, humid.