Cue the Jaws theme music. Tuesday night, the US men’s national team wade into some treacherous waters — they face Argentina in the Copa America Centenario semifinals (9 pm ET, FS1, Univision, UDN). And at the helm of that Argentina squad? Lionel Messi, the deadly global superstar that even non-soccer people recognize by name.
The monster of the game boasts almost every award a player could ever hope to collect—Club World Cups, UEFA Champions League titles, La Liga titles, Copa del Rey titles. (He got the latter two this year, in fact).
But where Messi pretty much always excels with his club team, a few achievements have proved fleeting at the international level. If you’re a US fan, let’s find this tiny shred of hope and cling to it with the strongest death grip ever. Maybe, just maybe, something will happen to jinx Messi’s magic yet again in an international tournament.
A quick rundown of how it’s gone down in major finals of the very recent past:
- Copa America 2015 – In a tough final last year — in which Chile were considered underdogs! – they managed to hold off Messi and Argentina, claiming the title via a 0-0 draw.
- FIFA World Cup 2014 – Messi couldn’t bring home a title for his country this year, either. Again, Argentina came away scoreless, with Germany beating them 1-0.
- Copa America 2007 – Messi couldn’t pull out a single goal in the final, with his country getting stomped 3-0 by Brazil.
Oh, and a bonus, in some non-tournament games – Messi-led Argentina have not, in fact, always beat the US!
- In 2011, the US faced Argentina in a friendly at MetLife Stadium and came away with a 1-1 draw. Messi didn’t even score!
- Similarly, in 2008, at Giants Stadium, he couldn’t finish either, and the teams finished 0-0. (New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch served as assistant coach for the USMNT at that time; here’s what he has to say about how they kept Messi at bay.)
…So hey, maybe we’re being petty and splitting hairs a little bit…. But what we’re saying is, there is a chance the USA could do this thing against Argentina. We believe, right?