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LIMA, Peru - August 8, 2019 - The No. 24 U.S. Men’s National Team had nothing to lose as they took to the pitch at the Villa Maria del Triunfo complex in Lima, Peru to play higher-ranked, No. 4 Argentina in the Pan American Games semifinals. An important match, as the winner would move on to the final and play for gold or silver, USA knew it was going to be tough against Rio 2016 Olympic champions. USA held their ground, keeping Argentina to their lowest goal total throughout the tournament thus far, but produced no goals of their own as Argentina came out on top 5-0.
The match opened with Argentina earning a penalty corner after driving down the pitch. The drag by Jose Tolini was tipped over the goal and out by USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany). USA exhibited excellent defense as they reacted to the follow-up attempts by Argentina. A few minutes later, Argentina worked it around the USA defense and Matias Paredes put one in to give Los Leones the lead. USA fought on and continued to break up threats by Argentina as they developed. When USA had their chances to counterattack, the final pass wasn’t there or they were unable to keep control to find the answer. Ten minutes into play, Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.) was found open on the right side. He swept a ball toward the far post that slipped just by Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) and Deegan Huisman's (Almere, The Netherlands) sticks. Argentina added another goal before the quarter ended when Lucas Vila collected the ball in front of Klages, pulled it back and shot it into the net. USA kept Argentina to two goals even as they continued to earn penalty corners late in the quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, both sides of the field saw action and multiple positive opportunities. Argentina struck again five minutes in off a backhand by Agustin Mazzilli into the right corner of the goal. This did not discourage USA who worked even harder to find their own positive result. The red, white and blue defense continued to make strong stops against the Argentina attack and push forward on the intercepts to produce some attack. After a tackle on a Los Leones shot attempt was blocked by Adam Miller’s (Panama City, Fla.), USA took it the other way and Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Calif.) swept it hard into the circle on the restart. Paul Singh (Moorpark, Calif.) cut along the baseline got a stick on it, but the Argentina defense put an end to the threat. Going into the halftime break, USA trailed Argentina 0-3.
USA charged on going into the third quarter. With both teams working hard for scoring chances, the game began to turn aggressive. USA held their ground, forced turnovers and drove up field as a unit. Many Argentina balls trickled over the end line due to USA’s effective deep man-to-man coverage. Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) made several stops and assisted Klages on several close calls. Los Leones notched another goal right before the conclusion of the third frame on a cross ball by Federico Fernandez that was tipped in by Maico Casella. Following a strong defensive quarter by USA, Argentina extended their lead to make the score USA 0, Argentina 4.
Argentina kept knocking, but USA kept denying them entry as they put extra pressure on the ball. Gandhi and the rest of the USA defense held down the back field, coming up with fouls and tackles, and looking up for the open player. With four minutes remaining in the game, USA used their video referral on what they though was an Argentina foot in their offensive circle to earn a penalty corner. The call was upheld and USA lost their referral. The red, white and blue pressed harder in the final minutes of the match, hoping to get on the scoreboard. With 2 minutes left, Los Leones took the ball quickly to the other end and Lucas Martinez sat on the right side of the circle, collected, spun and pushed it in to make the final score 0-5 in favor of Argentina. Although they played hard for 60 minutes, the red, white and blue could not answer to Argentina’s five goals.
The U.S. Men's National Team will play in the PAG bronze medal game on Saturday, August 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET. against the loser of the upcoming semifinal game between Canada and Chile. The U.S. Women's National Team will take on No. 15 Chile tomorrow for the women's PAG bronze. Stream both games live on ESPN3 (WatchESPN.com).
Team USA is ready in Lima with a gold medal and automatic qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the line. With that, fans and followers can join the conversation and follow along with additional story lines with the hashtag #AllEyesOnLima on social media and usafieldhockey.com. Check back often for more stories around USMNT and USWNT athletes, umpires, venue, history and more as the Pan American Games get underway.
Don’t miss a moment! For more information, check out the 2019 Pan American Games Event Program by clicking here.
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