The USA's Gyasi Zardes (white jersey) battles for the ball against Ever Banega of Argentina during their Copa America Centenario semifinal on June 21, 2016, in Houston. (Photo: Mexsport)
HOUSTON – Since Gyasi Zardes earned his first cap for the United States against Chile in January 2015, in addition to his talent, the forward’s continuous optimism has stood out.
After the U.S. fell 4-0 to Argentina in the Copa America Centenario semifinals on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy star’s positive attitude was a breath of fresh air.
“This is a good tournament,” said Zardes. “It was good for our team.”
In many ways, the competition was more than good for the Americans. A 2-0 loss in the opener to Colombia was followed by wins over Costa Rica (4-0) and Paraguay (1-0). Those results, combined with Colombia’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica, gave the tournament host the top spot in Group A, setting up a quarterfinal meeting with Ecuador – the second place side (on goal difference) in South American qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
With abundant media coverage and a supportive crowd of 47,322 in Seattle, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side pulled off a 2-1 win thanks in large part to Clint Dempsey, who scored and assisted on Zardes’ game-winning goal.
A four-goal setback to Argentina – the world’s top-ranked team according to FIFA -- may be difficult to accept, but it doesn’t detract from the overall performance.
“When they (Argentina) lost the ball, they fought extremely hard to get the ball back right away,” Zardes noted. “We are going to learn from this. That’s the beautiful game of soccer…sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
It may have been the USA’s largest-ever loss in 17 all-time Copa America games, but Zardes is already looking forward to playing Argentina again and demonstrating what the team learned.
“I guarantee you that if we face them in the future, we’ll have a different viewpoint and we’ll have a better opportunity against those guys,” concluded the 24-year-old.
The U.S. will play the loser of Wednesday’s second semifinal between Colombia and Chile in the Copa’s third place match on June 25, in Glendale, Arizona.