USA vs. Argentina: How To Place Your Copa America Picks

Kevin Stott

Monday, June 20, 2016 11:26 AM GMT

Lionel Messi and FIFA-ranked #1 Argentina move on to Houston on Tuesday night to face Clint Dempsey and the USA in the first of two Copa América Centenario Semifinal matches.

Copa América Semifinals Odds Preview
Let’s take an in-depth look at this high-profile semifinals game, speculate on what each side will try to do, look at some numbers, Trends, Form and the Weather Forecast and then offer up a handful of seemingly logical selections for our SBR soccer Picks readership in what looks like will be a high-scoring match.

 

USA vs. Argentina
NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas is the site of this first Copa América Centenario Semifinal on Tuesday night between the tournament’s host nation, the United States, and Lionel Messi and Argentina with the winner moving on to face Wednesday’s Colombia-Chile winner in Sunday’s big Final. Oddsmakers have made Argentina solid -200 favorites over the USA (+600) with the Draw priced at +300 at Ladbrokes and the Total (Goals) with 2½ Over -117 at Bet365. The First Half odds see Argentina priced at +100, a Draw at +130 with the USA at +550 at Bet365. Some Props: To Qualify (Advance): Argentina -600, USA +400 at Bet365; Both Teams To Score: Yes -105, No -125 at William Hill; First Goalscorer: Lionel Messi +320 at Paddy Power, Gonzalo Higuaín +375 at Bwin, Sergio Agüero at Bwin; Correct Score: Argentina 4-1, 27/1 at 188Bet, Argentina 3-1, 12/1 at William Hill, Argentina 2-1, +750 at William Hill, USA 2-1, 22/1 at Paddy Power.

 

United States
The USA (11/1 to win Copa América at Coral) and Head Coach Jürgen Klinsmann defeated Ecuador on Thursday in the Quarterfinals, 2-1 to advance to this point in the tournament after going 2-1-0 in Group A play, losing 2-0 to Colombia and then shutting out both Costa Rica (4-0) and Paraguay (2-0) as the Defense on the USMNT continued to shine in front of GK Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) who has started all four matches, allowing just 3 goals—2 to Colombia in the group opener.

But facing an aggressive CONMEBOL side like Argentina ranked #1 by FIFA and powered by Lionel Messi (Anytime Goalscorer -110, at Bet365) and with the USA missing three MF’s in Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes) because of Yellow Card accumulation, Clint Dempsey (Anytime Goalscorer +375 at Ladbrokes) and the USA will really be up against it here and trying to control the pace against a team when you don’t have the ball can prove frustrating. So expect presumed starting GK Guzan to be tested much here and for Gyasi Zardes (Anytime Goalscorer +450, Ladbrokes), Chris Wondolowski (Anytime Goalscorer +420 at 888Sport) and the host nation US to likely be chasing Argentina both on the pitch and on the scoreboard.

With Jones, Bedoya and Wood unavailable, Klinsmann will need Midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) and maybe even 17-year-old prospect and Hershey, Pennsylvania native Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) to really step up and with Bradley, Beckerman and Zusi all experienced, at least there is some Hope. A little? Against Ecuador, Klinsmann had a Starting XI of: GK Brad Guzan; D’s Matt Bessler, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson; MF’s Bradley, Bedoya, Jones and Wood and Forwards Dempsey and Zardes. Veteran “Deuce” Dempsey got the USA on the board with a header at the 22-minute mark before Zardes (LA Galaxy) gave the US a 2-0 lead at 65’ before Ecuador pulled one back at the 74’ on a Michael Arroyo to make it 2-1, the eventual Final Score.

 

Argentina
Argentina (-162 to win Copa América at Bet365) totally cruised into the Copa América Centenario Quarterfinals, rolling over Chile, Panama and Bolivia in the Group Stage—outscoring them 10-1 in the process—before disposing of Venezuela, 4-1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Saturday. In the Quarterfinals victory, Argentina got a pair of 1st Half goals from Gonzalo Higuaín (8’, 26’) while magician Messi (FC Barcelona) scored at the 60-minute mark in the 2nd Half to give La Albiceleste an insurmountable 3-0 lead against an overmatched Venezuelan side. Erik Lamela (Anytime Goalscorer +284, 888Sport) had Argentina’s fourth goal at the 71-minute mark, less than minute after Salomón Rondón had finally put Venezuela on the scoreboard.

In the victory, Argentina Manager Gerardo Martino had a Starting XI of: GK Sergio Romero; D’s Gabriel Mercado, Ramiro Funes Mori, Javier Mascherano and Marcos Rojo; Nicolás Otamendi, Augusto Fernández, Nicolás Gaitán, Éver Banega and Lionel Messi in the MF and Gonzalo Higuaín getting the nod again from Martino at Striker over Sergio Agüero (Manchester City player and Anytime Goalscorer +130 at Betfair).
 

But it’s maybe who Martino didn’t start over the weekend that could spell major trouble for the US with the aforementioned Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur) coming in off the Bench, Agüero and D Víctor Cuesta not playing, and Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune; Anytime Goalscorer +250 at William Hill), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain; Anytime Goalscorer +284 at 888Sport) and Ángel Di María (Paris Saint-Germain; Anytime Goalscorer +190 at Bwin)—still recovering from an Abductor injury but available—also all not playing and ready to help on La Albiceleste attack if called on. And expect them to be. Argentina AMF Nicolás Gaitán (Benfica) is Suspended.

 

Conclusions, Weather Forecast, Team Forms, Picks
The Weather Forecast for this first Semifinal in Houston on Tuesday night from TWC is calling for Clear Skies, a Low around 75° with SSE Winds of 5-10 mph and 80% Humidity. So, save for the high H-town Humidity, nice weather and muscles work better in humidity and soccer balls bounce much better. Even on field built for American Football. While GK Guzan, Brooks and the American Defense have been superb so far, this is a real step-up in competition in this one. Argentina and GK Sergio Romero allowed only 1 goal in the Group Stage and just 1 so far in this Knockout Stage and have outscored its opponents 14-2 so far.

Despite the fact both teams are in good form, Argentina (WWWWWW) is ranked #1 by FIFA and the drive to get some national silverware while the 28-year-old Messi is still in his prime is real. The Site should help the 31st-ranked US (WWLWWW) a little, but more so if the Stars and Stripes can score first and stay in the game until around the 60-minute mark. But soccer odds are, Messi (54 goals in 109 national games) and Argentina have probably scored twice (or maybe thrice) already by that point with this Roster and if it continues to play the way it has been playing.

Lifetime, these two are 1-1-0 against each other in Copa América play with the USA winning 3-0 in the 1995 Copa América in Uruguay in Group C play and Argentina defeating the USA, 4-1, in the 2007 Copa América in Venezuela, also in Group C play. Overall in all competitions, Argentina is 9-5-2 against CONCACAF-side USA, outscoring the Americans 24-9 in the process. The last time these two teams played was a Friendly back in March of 2011 which ended in a 1-1 Draw at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

With playmakers Messi and possibly Di María, and gunners like Higuaín, Agüero, Lamela, Lavezzi and Pastore, Argentina (1½ Total Team Goals, Over -150 at Boylesports) is just too loaded for the USA here and this one could get out of hand in the first 45 minutes and may be a match in which to look to the Asian Handicap (Argentina -1½ +144 at Ladbrokes) for some perceived value. Even if the US can keep the Time of Possession somewhat close, the sheer number of Shots of Target expected from Argentina here compared to the USA makes this one seem like a no-brainer. Messi is feeling good and this Argentina side is motivated and with three Midfielders out and Fear in their Red, White and Blue hearts, this is a tough spot for the host USA with the prolific Higuaín really clicking right now with that little magician, Messi (Anytime Goalscorer +100 at NetBet).

 

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Predicted Final Score: Argentina 4 USA 1
Pick: Argentina -200 at Ladbrokes, Over 2½ -116 at 888Sport
Copa America Centenario Semifinals props picks: Argentina First Half +110 at Bet365, Argentina Asian Handicap -1½ +144 at Ladbrokes, Argentina Over 1½ Total Team Goals -150 at Boylesports, Argentina To Win Both Halves +270 at SportingBet, Gonzalo Higuaín Anytime Goalscorer +115 at NetBet.