SANTA FE, Argentina -- As Martin Caceres' penalty soared into the top corner and confirmed Uruguay's passage to a fifth successive Copa America semifinal, a sense of disbelief fell over the Estadio Estanislau Lopez.
Fernando Gago signed his death warrant recently. Real Madrid's Argentine midfielder told ESPN on July 24 that Barcelona was one of the best sides in history, better than Real Madrid and that beating it was impossible. The problem, he said, was that the fans do not want to accept that. They certainly don't: within minutes Gago was, to use the Spanish phrase, being called everything but beautiful. Mostly, he was being called out.
A 4-1 win Tuesday over world champion Spain should do much to transform Sergio Batista from caretaker to full-time coach of Argentina. More than that, though, it rams home a lesson forgotten by predecessor Diego Maradona amid the euphoria of South Africa 2010 -- midfield is not an optional extra.
The highlight of covering soccer in South America has always been getting an early glimpse at the youngsters destined to become household names. It's like going to the movies and getting a sneak peak at the most anticipated coming attractions.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the end, it was just a little flick of the hand that said the most. After the final whistle had blown at Sunday's U.S.-Argentina match, Freddy Adu fed off the energy of 78,000 fans at Giants Stadium and dismissed Argentina's Fernando Gago with the simplest of gestures. For me, it was the most vivid moment on a night that had hundreds of them.
When Real Madrid hired Fabio Capello last summer, it was looking for a "sure thing" -- a big-name coach who would cut through the B.S., tame the Galácticos (or what was left of them) and deliver some kind of silverware. Any kind.
Boca Juniors' achievements in the past decade have been nothing less than extraordinary. The Xeneizes have become accustomed to winning every competition they participate in and their demanding supporters consider anything less than first place a failure.