Thursday, March 24, 2011

USA vs. Argentina: Are You Ready?

This Saturday, March 26th, the United States will host Argentina at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In case you have been living in a cave for the month of March, the Argentina starting 11 will include Lionel Messi and a host of other stars in a much anticipated rematch with the US of A. Some content to digest:

The battle of '08
In June 2008, the United States squared off with the then number one ranked team in the world, Argentina. The South Americans, who were gearing up for a summer of qualifiers, threw their best at the USMNT. In front of thousands of fans mostly regaled in light blue (I was there - us Americans were outnumbered) Messi skipped around the old Meadowlands and did everything but score, as the US defense held strong. Surprisingly, the Americans almost emerged the victors, striking the bar late on in the game. The crowd was electric and so were the skys, as lightning and thunder tensed the atmosphere as the tie came to a 0-0 end. Playing out a draw against a world number one is a triumph for a side like the USA.

This time around
It's been over two years and a lot has changed. The USA has grown as a soccer nation, with many bigger names in the team now located in Europe; the Argentines have grown brighter, younger talent and Lionel Messi is two Ballon d'Ors older.

On Saturday, both squads will be loaded with players of quality, as European leagues have taken the weekend off to allow for Euro 2012 Qualifiers. We will see:

Lionel Messi
Two-time World Player of the Year, La Liga winner, Champions League winner, European Golden Boot winner and the list goes on and on and on and on. The fact that this player is stepping foot in New Jersey (AGAIN) is incredible. We must soak him in.

Landon Donovan
The World Cup hero and top American goal-scorer is back with his mates in the red, white, and blue and eager to impress the large crowd this game will draw. Hopefully we'll see Lando sliding towards the corner flag after a heroic injury-time winner in this match.
Real American
Javier Pastore
One of the hottest properties in world soccer at the moment, the youngster from Serie A side Palermo will likely feature and dazzle the crowd with his fleet-footedness and flair for goal. Truly a player to watch.

Clint Dempsey
With an astonishing 10 goals in Premier League play to-date, Deuce can certainly be considered one of the country's most accomplished player.

Angel Di Maria
The wizardly Madrid man has been turning heads at the Bernabeu this season and will look to do the same on Saturday.

Michael Bradley
USA needs Bradley to bring his tenacity and gleaming bald head in hopes of canceling out Esteban Cambiasso's shined up skull in the middle of the park.

Javier Zanetti
The ageless treble winner will run the flanks with the zest and zeal of a young Steve Cherundolo.

What to expect
Speaking as a fan of the USMNT, I am not expecting the mammoth performance we saw in 2008. Sanity dismisses the notion of shutting Lionel Messi down twice in a row. I can only hope we make our presence known and fight hard.

Speaking as a fan Roma, I am pumped to see the Wild Man Nicolas Burdisso once again.

One last thing:
Support the USMNT - be a real American.

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