US dream of Copa shock against Messi-inspired Argentina in semis

  • AFP, Houston
  • Updated: Jun 21, 2016 01:07 IST
Argentina's Lionel Messi, top, celebrates a goal by Gonzalo Higuain (9) during the first half of a Copa America Centenario quarterfinal soccer match against Venezuela. (AP Photo)

Jurgen Klinsmann is daring to dream that the United States can pull off mission improbable in the Copa America Centenario semi-finals on Tuesday as the hosts face a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina closing in on a long-awaited tournament triumph.

Klinsmann has already met his pre-tournament goal of reaching the last four after helping his side navigate a challenging group phase and an awkward quarter-final against in-form Ecuador.

But despite a raft of suspensions which will decimate his first choice starting line-up at Houston’s NRG Stadium, Klinsmann is bullishly talking up his team’s chances as they prepare to take on the might of Argentina.

The German World Cup winner cites his team’s impressive record in recent friendlies, which has included away wins over Germany and the Netherlands, and their performances in the 2014 World Cup as reasons to believe.

“There’s no reason at all why we can’t win Copa America,” Klinsmann said on Sunday.

“We travelled the world the last few years to very difficult friendly games all over Europe and in Mexico and we came away with wins.”

In Brazil two years ago, Klinsmann’s side helped eliminate a Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal and highly rated Ghana before qualifying with Germany in the World Cup’s “Group of Death.”

“We don’t need to talk up Argentina any bigger than they are,” Klinsmann said.

“Two years ago we had Mr Ronaldo against us in Manaus. And we led them 2-1 until the 96th minute,” Klinsmann said of his team’s first round World Cup match, which finished in a 2-2 draw.

“We surprised a lot of people -- no one gave us a chance to get out of the group in Brazil. We left Portugal behind, we left Ghana behind.

“Anything is possible in knockout games. You’re 50-50 with whoever you play against,” he said. “Dream big -- why not? This is about two more games.”

Privately however Klinsmann will be attempting to solve the puzzle caused by the suspensions of influential midfielder Jermaine Jones, wide player Alejandro Bedoya and the Hamburg-bound striker Bobby Wood.

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