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Chile win 0 - 0*

*For 88 minutes Chile held off the world champions in front of more than 81,000 fans at MetLife Stadium. No need to discuss what happened after.

© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

We left in the 85th minute.

Originally, my son and I decided to leave in the 80th minute of last night's 2024 Copa America group stage match between Argentina and Chile. Part of it was the logistics of getting back to Manhattan from a game held at MetLife Stadium with a 9 pm ET kickoff. I wanted to get ahead of the more than 81,000 fans who turned out for the match and make it home before midnight.

Part of it was strategic. I'm from Chile, and my son and I were two red shirts in an ocean of albiceleste. We didn't go to MetLife expecting a win, or even a scrappy fight. We went hoping for an against-the-0dds draw, and when the first half ended scoreless we exchanged smiles and fist bumps. So what if Chile hadn't taken a single shot in the first 45 minutes, and went into the locker room with an xG of 0.00? When your team's FIFA ranking is #40, a scoreless tie against the #1 team on the planet is better than a win.

Besides, we were enjoying the tension rising in the stands around us. All of those tens of thousands of fans who came to see a coronation were instead watching a Chile squad mostly made up of players from domestic and regional leagues hold fast against an Argentina made up of international superstars. An attack valued at $383 million was being silenced by a defensive line worth $14 million. The blue and white shirts around us were not happy.

It never felt menacing in the stands. We didn't see any fights or altercations, and the Argentine fans in our section mostly ignored us. But as the game wore on, the crowd around us changed tone. The waves of fans who earlier cheered every dispossession and every throw-in, and who filled the moments in between with rolling chants of "MEEE-SI! MEEE-SI!" now shifted to "Hijo de puta!" when Chile had the ball. Soon that was joined by the homophobic slur which is shouted out loud far too easily and comfortably at soccer matches in the Spanish-speaking world.

Then, deep into the second half, something magical happened on the field. Chile took a shot, their first one of the game, and it was on goal.

It happened in the 72nd minute when Rodrigo Echeverria, a 29-year-old defensive midfielder who made 17 appearances for Club Atlético Huracán this season – and who last scored in 2023 – tested Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. It was from outside the box, and easily handled by Martínez, but it was on target, and it had some velocity. It wasn't a good shot, but it wasn't bad, and if the trajectory had been slightly different it could have been dangerous.

The crowd around us went silent. My son and I remained silent, too, but we locked eyes. Telepathically, we were shouting our heads off.

Three minutes later, Echeverria took another shot on goal. Again, Martínez scooped it up, but now the tens of thousands of fans were becoming uncomfortable. Chile weren't following the script. This was a game that was supposed to be the first step in Argentina's march to another trophy, and won by Manchester City's Julián Álvarez ($98 million), or Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister ($75 million), or Messi himself ($33 million), not Echeverria ($3.6 million).

One minute later, Chile placed a third shot on target. This time it was from Marcelino Nunez, a 24-year old defensive midfielder who plays for Norwich City. Chile, which hadn't taken a single shot all game, placed three shots on goal within four minutes.

Argentina had taken plenty of shots up to that point — 18 to be exact, with seven on target. While nobody would say that the tide was turning, a Chile that had done little more than park the bus (and the long-distance buses in Chile are legendary, with luxurious salon cama seats that go fully flat like in first class on an airplane), were now trying to score.

It was thrilling for the few of us wearing red. A tense and cagey match was opening up just a little, and a Chile already punching far above their weight were now challenging the best team in the world.

But it presented a personal dilemma. Before the start of the game, I told my son that we would probably leave at the 80th minute in order to beat the crowds out of the stadium. We discussed it earlier when we were at Penn Station, eating ramen and watching the Canada vs Peru game on the large-screen TV in the food hall. Transportation out of MetLife is notoriously a nightmare, and the only way avoid the hours-long wait to leave is to cut out early. Two hours before kickoff, it seemed reasonable that the game would be done and dusted long before the 80th minute rolled around.

But we were now approaching that time marker, and we didn't want to leave.

"Do we stay?" I asked my son.

He hesitated for a long time. "Five more minutes," he said.

Momentum swung back in Argentina's favor. Manager Lionel Scaloni, who had already brought on attackers Ángel Di Maria ($5 million) and Lautaro Martinez ($115 million), made two defensive substitutions that smothered Chile's forwards. Now all of the play was taking place in front of Chile's goal.

The 85th minute approached. Argentina were throwing everything at the Chile defense. Right when the clock read 85:00, my son and I silently rose from our seats and walked to the concourse. We went to the bathroom, and then walked to the escalators. They were empty. He rode one and I rode the other to see which one was faster.

That's when we heard the stadium erupt, and felt the building move beneath our feet. We didn't look for a monitor to watch a replay, and I didn't reach for my phone to open FotMob.

"I didn't see it, so it didn't happen," he said.

"That's right," I said. "Chile won 0-0."

When we made it to the train platform, it was almost empty. Later that night, the station would see long waits and bad-tempered crowds, but it was calm and civil when we were there, mostly families with young children also trying to beat the rush.

We found a bench, and waited for the train to take us home.

Argentina 0 - 0 Chile* | Official Highlights

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