Fire's Barrett leads U.S. U-20s to win
Chicago Fire forward Chad Barrett scored the only goal of the game as the U.S. U-20 national team recorded a massive victory defeating world power Argentina 1-0 in the opening match for both teams at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland. An impressive performance by coach Sigi Schmid's team got the U.S. off to a great start at the tournament and even a missed penalty kick by D.C. United starlet Freddy Adu couldn't put a damper on the affair.
The game's lone goal came five minutes before halftime as Barrett converted a high cross with a powerful downward header. Marvell Wynne provided service from the right side and the ball was sent on a higher path after being deflected by Emiliano Armenteros. Barrett was unmarked at the back post and put his header off the turf and into the top of the net.
Barrett was dangerous throughout the match and produced the first scoring chance of the day nine minutes in with a weaving run through the midfield. After cutting back and forth between a number of challenges, the UCLA product found his way into the penalty box, only to see his left-footed shot kicked away by Argentinean 'keeper Oscar Ustari.
The South Americans had their first and best look at goal 18 minutes in. Gustavo Oberman saw an opening from about 20 yards out and caught Quentin Westberg flatfooted. The left post came to the rescue of the U.S. 'keeper and the match remained scoreless. Westberg then was called into action following Fernando Gago's deflected shot, which was tipped over the crossbar.
The U.S. defense was dealt a major blow seven minutes before the half when Manchester United's Jonathan Spector was forced to leave with an injury.
Argentina made a change at halftime, putting Lionel Messi on up front. The move nearly paid off after mere minutes when the Barcelona man found space in the box. Nathan Sturgis, who had earlier replaced Spector, cleared Messi's weak shot.
Barrett was about a foot away from doubling the U.S. advantage shortly after the hour mark. He found his way into the Argentina box and turned to fire a left-footed attempt towards the back post, which skipped just wide. Argentina responded with a pair of chances, the first of which required a diving save from Westberg on Messi and the second that was high and wide off the foot of Oberman.
Adu missed a golden opportunity to extend the U.S. advantage 20 minutes from full time when he failed to convert from the penalty spot. He had earned the chance after being brought down just inside the corner of the box. The 16-year-old midfielder took on the responsibility himself and though his effort beat Ustari, it bounded off the right post and back into the field.
Messi almost made the USA pay in the 76th minute and he probably should have scored on a free header in the middle of the penalty area. In the end it was a relatively routine save from Westberg and the Argentineans were left wanting.
Barrett was removed five minutes before the final whistle, and the Columbus Crew's Danny Szetela came on in his place in an attempt to clog some of the gaps in the middle of the field.
Pablo Zabaleta had the final chance for Argentina with a header from a last-minute corner kick, but it caused no problems and lofted over the crossbar and onto the top of the net.
The Red, White and Blue will be back in action on Tuesday when they face Germany in their second game of the tournament. That match is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. ET kickoff and can be seen live on Fox Soccer Channel.
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.