Argentina beats Canada 2-0 in Copa América semifinal, Montrealer brings us inside the game

"A magical night," says Rocco Placentino, Montrealer and CS Saint-Laurent sporting director at the Copa América semifinal game in New Jersey on Tuesday. He brings us inside the game where Argentina beat Canada 2-0. Pamela Pagano reports.

By Pamela Pagano & The Canadian Press

Their historic run to win the Copa América title comes to an end — the Canadian men’s soccer team was defeated by Argentina in the semifinals on Tuesday night.

Goals by Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez lifted top-ranked Argentina past Canada as the star-studded South American side showed its pedigree in a 2-0 win.

Former Montreal Impact player and current sporting director of club CS Saint-Laurent, Rocco Placentino, was in the stands watching it all unfold in New Jersey when we spoke to him right after the game.

“It was pandemonium,” he said. “Honestly, 80,000 people packed singing Messi, singing Argentina, singing Canada, doing the wave.”

“It was a magical night,” he added. “Really was one of my best nights in my life.”

Rocco Placentino (right) and his family at MetLife Stadium on July 9, 2024. Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in the Copa América semifinal. (Submitted by: Rocco Placentino)

Despite the loss, the 48th-ranked Canadians did not disappoint before a lively crowd of 80,102 on a hot, humid night at MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets, as well as the venue for the 2026 FIFA World Cup final.

The loud crowd was largely clad in Argentina blue although there were pockets of red. They saw a gutsy performance from Canada, albeit one lacking in clinical finishing, and pure class from Argentina, whose passing and buildup were straight out of a video game at times.

“Despite the results,” said Placentino. “We had a great time.”

“I came with my family.”

Over 80,000 fans filled up MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on July 9, 2024 for the Canada and Argentina Copa America semifinal game. (Submitted by: Alessandro Bino)

The Canadians also fell 2-0 to Argentina when they met in the June 20th tournament opener in Atlanta. Argentina thumped Canada 5-0 in their only other meeting, in May 2010 in Buenos Aires in the Argentines’ final warm-up before the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Messi and the Argentines will play either No. 12 Colombia or No. 14 Uruguay, who meet Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., in Sunday’s championship game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

“It’s insane what this team has done, what the Argentina national team is doing,” Messi said. “For those who remain from the old guard, it’s beyond impressive that the national team is in another final.”

Canada heads to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for Saturday’s third-place game.

“If we want to be a nation that gains ranking spots and be ready for ’26, we got to dig deeper than that tonight even though we give a good effort,” said Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. “Even though they are the world champions, everybody on the field feels like we could have done better.

” … We need to regroup and go for third place.”

Rocco Placentino at MetLife Stadium on July 9, 2024. Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in the Copa América semifinal. (Submitted by: Rocco Placentino)

Argentina showed its quality, content to stroke the ball around and then change gears in an instant when it saw an opening in Canada’s defence.

And despite a positive start, Canada fell behind in the 22nd minute on Argentina’s first shot on target. The Canadian defence was carved open by a long pass from Rodrigo De Paul that Alvarez controlled with a fine first touch before outmuscling Moise Bombito and slipping a shot through Crepeau’s legs.

Coach Jesse Marsch and the Canadian bench were irate, believing a foul by Argentina’s Nicolás Tagliafico — who steamrollered Richie Laryea as he tried to corral Crepeau’s goal kick, allowing the South Americans to win possession — had been missed before the goal. Eight touches later the ball was in the Canada net.

But Chilean referee Piero Maza was letting the teams play, much to Marsch’s displeasure. The Canada coach eventually received a caution in the 77th minute for voicing his displeasure with the officiating.

Messi made it 2-0 in the 51st minute with a slight redirect of an Enzo Fernandez shot through traffic after Canada failed to clear the ball. Canada had eight defenders in front of Crepeau in its penalty box but could not snuff out the threat.

The goal survived a video review check for offside with Messi getting the green light for his first goal of the tournament and his 14th in career Copa America play.

Rocco Placentino and his family with Canada soccer players Moïse Bombito and Ismaël Koné on July 9, 2024. (Submitted by: Rocco Placentino)

“The game was very fun,” said Placentino’s son, Matteo. “Very fun to watch because I got to watch Messi second time and Bombito and Koné.”

Moïse Bombito and Ismaël Koné from the Canadian team – played with Montreal’s CS Saint Laurent a few years ago.

“We’re so very proud because now they’ve become an inspiration for all the youth in our in our province, in our country,” said Placentino.

“The message for all the youth out there in our province, in our country is never give up,” he added. “Keep on fighting, never give up.”

“Maybe one day will be your chance.”

—With files from The Canadian Press

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