A capacity crowd at Giants Stadium in New York were treated to an utterly boring scoreless draw between the United States and Argentina on Sunday night which proved, if nothing else, that there’s only so much managers can learn from friendlies. Argentina didn’t look interested in spite of playing for fifteen of the last twenty minutes with a man more after Pablo Mastroeni was sent off for the States against the country of his birth, and the only statistic they offered was Javier Mascherano’s own red card, with five minutes left, for a frankly horrible challenge in the midfield.
On the plus side, the three-man backline of Gabriel Heinze, Martín Demichelis and Gonzalo Rodríguez (not, as I reported in the ‘lineup’ post, Nicolás Burdisso) looked stronger and more certain than against Mexico, and Mascherano worked well with Fernando Gago in the middle. The side saw fewer changes than expected from Basile – he only brought in Heinze (for Fabricio Coloccini), Rodríguez (for Burdisso) and Pablo Zabaleta (for Javier Zanetti) from those who were left on the bench against Mexico. The attacking trident of Messi, Agüero and Cruz started promisingly but lost interest in the second half, and the hosts never looked capable of breaking down their guests’ ranks.
In all, a dull but not entirely unsatisfying lesson for Basile in the warmup to next week’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Brazil. The first of those, against Ecuador, will come on Sunday, whilst the following Wednesday sees the first meeting with Brazil since last year’s Copa América final.