Argentina Nips US in Pan Am Thriller
(Nepean, Canada) 14 September 1996 -- Despite racing back from a 19-6 second-half deficit, the US National Team fell to Argentina 29-26 in an exciting match that opened the Pan American Championship.

One minute into injury time, Argentine flyhalf Gonzalo Quesada stroked a 31-yard penalty goal to break a 26-all deadlock. Moments later, US flyhalf Matt Alexander couldn't land a 30-yard attempt on the last play of the game.

Playing without a number of starters, the US fell behind quickly. Unconverted tries by flanker Roberto Travaglini and wing Octavio Bartolucci and three penalty goals helped the Pumas to a 13-point lead after 48 minutes, as the US struggled to find its rhythm.

But back-to-back goals from number eight Rob Lumkong and halfback Andre Bachelet brought the US roaring back into the contest. Bachelet's score, a 70-yard kickoff return that involved six different players, electrified a pro-Argentine crowd of about 1500. Alexander converted both tries to give his team a one-point lead after 55 minutes, 20-19.

Center Eduardo Simone put Argentina back in frontwith a converted try at 64 minutes, but Alexander hit two consecutive penalty goals, the second at 79 minutes, to retie the game.

"As I said going into the match, I thought we'd need to survive on guts and heart," US coach Jack Clark said of the disappointing loss. "I'm awfully proud of the guts that the team displayed, and I feel bad that we've come up short on a couple of occasions. "But we1re playing good teams and we're in the hunt. I have great confidence in my players, and I know we're going to turn the corner." Host Canada tackles Uruguay in the today's second Pan Am match. The US next faces Canada on Wednesday in Hamilton, and then plays Uruguay on Saturday in Toronto.