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The day USA beat Argentina at Copa América: ‘Simeone threatened to kill us’

The tournament kicks off in the US next week. But it was the 1995 edition that helped lay the foundations of a new era in American soccer

When you have Diego Simeone’s attention, you know about it. “We were warming up in the tunnel, and Simeone was cursing us out and calling us all kinds of names,” Eric Wynalda says, as he recounts the day USA took on Argentina at the 1995 Copa América. “I said to Claudio [Reyna] at one point: ‘This guy does know we speak Spanish, right?’”

The pair were staring each other down before a meeting that summer in Uruguay. Argentina had comfortably qualified for the quarter-finals after wins in both their opening games. Meanwhile, the United States knew that they would have to match or better Bolivia’s result against Chile to advance. “Simeone and I got into a pushing fight in the tunnel before the game,” Wyanlda says. “I pushed him up against the wall, and I told him I was going to smash his face in, and I’m sure he told me something similar. I think that was my way of saying: we’re not backing down from you guys, and we’re not afraid.”

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