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Argentina Downs U.S. Men’s Soccer 1-0

February 8, 2003

MIAMI (AP) _ Even without any holdovers from last year’s World Cup roster, Argentina had enough talent Saturday to thoroughly frustrate the United States.

The Argentineans controlled play throughout, and a ninth-minute goal from Luis Gonzalez stood up for a 1-0 victory in an exhibition game at the Orange Bowl.

It was the first loss for the U.S. team in its last three meetings with Argentina, which leads the series 5-2.

The Americans had three corner kicks late in regulation, but none resulted in any serious chances against goalkeeper Sebastian Saja, who rarely was tested.

Playing before 27,196 fans, most clad in Argentine colors, the visitors capped a 3-0 tour that included wins over Honduras and Mexico.

The Americans, 1-1 in 2003 following a quarterfinal finish in last year’s World Cup, used only players from Major League Soccer. The Argentine roster was filled by domestic-based players as the team rebuilds following a first-round exit from last year’s tournament in Japan and South Korea.

Teammates from perennial Argentine power River Plate combined for the only goal.

Gonzalez carried the ball past midfield, then tapped a pass to Andres D’Alessandro, one of the top playmakers in the Argentine system. D’Alessandro quickly returned Gonzalez’s pass to the top of the penalty area, and Gonzalez flicked a one-timer over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

D’Alessandro was ejected in the 90th minute after a dramatic flop, but it was too late to give the Americans an opportunity to exploit the man-up situation.

The best U.S. chance came in the 55th minute, on an opportunity set up by 20-year-old Landon Donovan. He collected an errant cross inside the American penalty area, carried the ball 80 yards up the left side, then was pushed off the ball by Federico Inzua, who was given a yellow card for the hit.

Donovan played the restart to the far post, where Carlos Bocanegra’s header went just wide.

Howard, who allowed his first goal in five international appearances, did all he could do to keep the Americans close, including a spectacular point-blank save on Cesar Garignano in the 63th minute.

Notes: Clint Mathis served as U.S. captain. ... None of the players on either side were involved in the last United States-Argentina matchup in 1999. ... The Americans play at Jamaica on Wednesday, then are off until March 29 against Japan in Seattle. ... Sacha Victorine left in the 56th minute with a right quadriceps bruise. ... The U.S. team is 2-5-2 at the Orange Bowl and 2-9-3 in Miami.

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