Lionel Messi wants this championship badly. He sports a beard symbolizing the goal. He is focused like never before to bring Argentina it’s first trophy of any kind since the 1993 Copa America. This was never so true as last night’s 4-0 win over the United States at Metlife Stadium demonstrated.
Messi, didn’t back track even when the man who he assisted on the opening goal, Lavezzi, did a 360 flip over the advertising board landing flush on his head and shoulder which was very reminiscent of Derek Jeter’s spill during the 2001 Divisional playoff game against Oakland. It was a 63rd minute air-sapper as we learned that he fractured his arm and is scratched for the final.
He was carted away by ambulance to the horror of Argentine fans. But they could take solace in their top player. Though Messi has been the ultimate tease, losing the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America finals, Argentina does not get that close without arguably the best player on any pitch today.
Though that spill grabbed the headlines, it was Messi‘ playmaking that set up three of the four goals. Three minutes in, just outside the box he lifted a gorgeous, towering ball perfectly into the heart of goaltending territory, where Ezequeil Lavezzi headed it perfectly past Brad Guzan.
“It was a lesson,”
U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann explained,
“We hit the wall,”
The second was a taste of free kick magic. Messi left-footed bender that found the top-left corner for a 2-0 lead. The fourth was a 86th minute transition treat. Messi, in classic, turf-tearing sprint, picking up a turnover, and entering the left side of the box, passed to his right to set up Gonzalo Huguain for his second of the game.
Messi’ return was a relief but it will remain to be seen the effects of Lavezzi’s injury when Argentina plays Sunday against today’s Columbia-Chile semi-final winner. If Chile wins, it will be their second meeting in this tournament as Argentina bested them in group play. They would also get the opportunity to avenge last year’s Copa America loss. Colombia, after seeing their name mis-spelled, will not be confused as they are on the verge of a final.