At the 2004 Copa America in Peru, Javier Mascherano was a newcomer to the Argentina team. He had just turned 20, but the defensive midfielder played with such authority that it was already hard to imagine an Argentina side without him.
He seemed to have gotten his international career off to a winning start. He gave an outstanding performance in the final against Brazil, marking rival playmaker Alex out of the game, and provided his team a platform for what appeared to be a deserved victory.
Lionel Messi is a doubt for Barcelona's La Liga game at Celta Vigo on Sunday, as confusion continues around his current state of fitness.
Argentina national captain Messi was again in the stands for Tuesday's 2-1 friendly win over Ecuador in New Jersey, having also sat out last Saturday's 2-0 friendly victory over El Salvador in Washington, D.C.
The issue is a swollen toe in his right foot which means that even putting on a boot is painful.
There was no apparent sign of the injury as Messi completed...
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last time I was at MetLife Stadium it was September, to witness the emerging post-World Cup rehabilitation of a Brazil team whose aura had been dissolved in Belo Horizonte. The time before that it was June, to witness Cristiano Ronaldo carefully nursing the tendinitis in his knee through a pre-World Cup warm up game against the Republic of Ireland.
Both those occasions were fairly typical of my experiences of watching soccer at this stadium -- occasions that aren't exactly...