Monday, June 9, 2008

A Game To Be Remembered

The day started for Argentina vs. USA ( men's soccer) at 2:15 when we met Sam, Tyler, and Nick and headed up as representatives of the New Jersey Massive ( just my dad, my brother and me). The expressway, with no traffic got us in high spirits for the game, but when we hit the parkway, it went downhill. We were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, and were sitting in 90 degree weather causing the tar from the street to to melt on the tires. Not the greatest start, but surely it would have to get better, but another accident caused us to sit in traffic for 30 minutes, then we got moving again. But one last time, badly parked cars on the side of the road caused more traffic. Finally, we got to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, where it looked we would be looking for a parking spot for hours, because of 78,682 fans, but we squeezed in a tight spot and got the grill out. Hot dogs, sausages, and cheddarwursts ( YUM!!). We kept lighting and lighting, but the grill would not let us cook. Luckily, a group of big tailgaters let us use one of their grills so we didn't starve to death. With a kick of the ball and a hearty meal, we headed inside the stadium. My dad, my brother, and my seats were section 107 ( right on the corner flag) row 1, seats 1,2,and 3. Cool! The USA came out to train first, followed by Lionel Messi and Argentina. We saw cool training techniques. The starting lineup for the USA was: GK- Tim Howard
D- Oguchi Onyewu
D- Heath Pearce
D- Dan Califf
D-Steve Cheundolo
M- Pablo Mastroeni
M-Landon Donovan ( C )
M-DaMarcus Beassley
M-Clint Dempsey
M-Michael Bradley
F-Eddie Johnson

The substitutions for the United States were :

Jay DeMerit came in for Oguchi Onyewu
Eddie Lewis came in for Heath Pearce
Maurice Edu came in for Michael Bradley
Freddy Adu came in for Clint Dempsey
Frankie Hejduk came in for DaMarcus Beasley

The only substitution that the USA did not use was Brad Guzan.

The starting lineup for Argentina was:

GK- Roberto Abbondanzieri
D- Gonzalo Rodriguez
D- Nicolas Burdisso
D- Gabriel Heinze
D- Pablo Zabaleta
M-Fernando Gago
M-Maximiliano Rodriguez
M-Javier Mscherano ( C )
F-Julio Cruz
F-Sergio Aguero
F- Lionel Messi

The substitutions for Argentina were:

Martin Demichelis came in for Nicolas Burdisso
Javier Zanetti came in for Pablo Zabaleta
Fernando Cavenaghi came in for Maximiliano Rdriguez
Lisandro Lopez came in for Julio Cruz
Ever Banega came in for Sergio Aguero
Jose Sosa came in for Lionel Messi

The substitutions not used by Argentina were Sergio Romero and Jonas Gutierrez.

Before the game, a ceremonial welcome was given to Kasey Keller, who became the all-time leading United States Men's National Goalkeeper.

Also, on the announcement system, a congratulations to Landon Donoan, who got his 100th cap. Congratulations Landon!!!!!!!!

The game finally kicked off, and Argentina opened the floodgates, and in the opening 5 minutes, Tim Howard came up big for the USA. Howard, the Everton goalkeeper, made a kick save on Julio Cruz's shot, then parried the rebound away. Later, Cruz found space in the box again, but Howard dived, without committing a foul, and won the goal-kick. In the 28th minute, Lionel Messi found Cruz in the box again, but Howard kicked the ball away for a corner kick. At half-time, the score was 0-0. Turning the game around, the USA came flying out of the gates at the beginning of the second half. When Landon Donovan won a corner, the croud went wild, "USA,USA,USA,USA,USA"!!! It all lead up to a beautiful corner, and a near goal by Oguchi Onyewu, who's header came off of the crossbar. After that, Argentina came back with a counter, when Cruz turned Califf around, and found Sergio Aguero in the box, you think it would have to be a goal, but Howard once again raced out, slid,and the crowd appealed for a penalty, but Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar Chicas waved it away. Freddy Adu, who came on in the 61st minute, found Eddie Johnson behind the Argentina defense, but Abbondanzieri came out, and cleared the ball away. When Argentina was preparing for a free kick, on a Maurice Edu foul, Pablo Mastroeni received his second yellow card and was sent off, so USA had to play the final 19 minutes with 10 men. In the 78th minute, Javier Zanetti replaced Pablo Zabaleta, and the crowd went wild. Argentina also went down to 10 men, in the 86th minute when Javier Mascherano received 2 yellow cards in the same minute, the second one for kicking Landon Donovan. The game ended 0-0, but our day was not done. My Dad, my brother, Nick, Tyler,Sam, and myself were going to go down in the tunnel to meet, and chat with the players. This was all made possible by John Harkes, the former USA captain, and a friend of my dad's. I would like to give a big thank you to John Harkes, because I had a blast. We got autographs from Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Lewis, DaMarcus Beasley, Eddie Johnson, Jay DeMerit, Michael Bradley, Danny Califf, Clint Dempsey, Brad Guzan, Kasey Keller, Sacha Klejstan, Pablo Mastroeni, Bob Bradley, Freddy Adu who was extremely kind to chat with us for a while, and yes, we even got Lionel Messi, who was being mobbed by press, but still took the time to sign autographs. After all of this, we took a two hour ride home to be in bed by 2:30 a.m. Yay, 5 hours of sleep, and another day of school. :(

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