Will it be the Magic of Messi or the Determination of Dempsey that prevails in tonight’s COPA semi-finals at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas? More than 70,000 fans are expected to fill the stadium for possibly the biggest game in American soccer since the 1996 World Cup. So who will Prevail?
Messi, arguably the world’s greatest player has yet to win a coveted world title for his nation of Argentina. He is the tied with Gabriel Bautista for the most national team goals with 54. The Messi magic was once more on display against Venezuela as his perfectly touched pass led La Albiceleste’s opening goal in a 4-1 rout. Reportedly worth more than $200 million dollars, the 28 year old would trade it all for a berth in the COPA finals. Only Clint Dempsey and the USA stand in his way.
Dempsey, although not of the same stature as Messi is not only one of the best North America has to offer but his like Landon Donovan before him is the best the USA side has to offer. Dempsey’s 52nd goal helped lift United States soccer to its biggest moment in a very long time. He trails Donovan by five goals for the top spot on the all-time national team scoring list but that’s not what is important to the kid from Nacogdoches, Texas or even to Team USA. Dempsey is the heart and soul of the team. He has scored or assisted on the winning goal in each of the red, white and blues last three matches.
After the U.S. win over Ecuador, head coach Jurgen Klinsman paid the veteran some well deserved praise.
“Clint is special,” Klinsmann said. “He showed that tonight. He showed that the last couple weeks and he’s showed that throughout his entire career. This performance from him tonight in front of his home crowd was unbelievable.”
Argentina with Messi and his powerhouse side are determined to raise the COPA trophy on June 26th. The USA on the other hand is looking for another magical moment in soccer history. Two years after the Argentines won the 1993 COPA crown, the United States pulled off a 3-0 win in COPA 95 against Maradona and company. Can they do it again and gain a berth and a shot at the trophy that represents 100 years of soccer greatness? Only Messi and company stand in their way.