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Heroes of Genoa: USA downs Italy!
by Mike Woitalla, February 29th, 2012 5:48PM

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TAGS:  italy, men's national team


[ITALY-USA] The USA celebrated its biggest win of the Jurgen Klinsmann era when it prevailed 1-0 over Italy -- a nation the USA had never beaten in 10 previous meetings dating back to 1934 -- in Wednesday's friendly in Genoa.

The result extended the USA’s win streak to four games and gives Klinsmann a 5-4-1 record since taking the helm last summer.

GOLDEN CLINT. In the 56th minute, from 17 yards out, Clint Dempsey hit a sharp low shot into the left corner after Jozy Altidore laid back the ball he’d received from a Fabian Johnson cross.

Dempsey, whose goal was his 25th for the USA, has a history of scoring big goals for the USA. He’s scored in the last two World Cups, including the equalizer in a 1-1 tie with England. During the USA’s runner-up finish at the 2009 Confederations Cup, Dempsey scored the third goal in a 3-0 win over Egypt that clinched a semifinal spot and scored in the 2-0 win over European champion Spain. He scored five goals in qualifying play for the 2010 World Cup.

BIG-TIME BRADLEY. Michael Bradley, who plays his club ball in Italy for Chievo, contributed all over. The defensive midfielder chipped the ball down the wing that Johnson ran on to before delivering it to Altidore, who relayed to Dempsey for the goal. Bradley, who played centrally with Maurice Edu, disturbed the Italian midfield buildup, assisted the central defense as Azzurri pressured with futility for the equalizer, and helped the USA keep possession in midfield.

ALTIDORE’S EFFORT.
After a frustrating first half in which lone forward Altidore failed to get the ball into the penalty area, he did perfectly when Johnson’s cross arrived at the penalty spot, fending off defender Andrea Barzagli and finding Dempsey with his second touch. Altidore also did better in the second half at keeping possession long enough for teammates to move forward.

OUTSIDE COMBOS.
The Americans’ balls from the flanks didn’t trouble the Italians for most of the game, but the USA’s wide play often looked promising thanks to attack-minded outside backs Johnson (who combined with left midfielder Brek Shea) and right back Steve Cherundolo (who partnered with Danny Williams).

DETERMINED DEFENSE. Although it seemed at times that the offside flag stifled the Italians as much as the American backline, the U.S. defenders filled the gaps when they had to. Captain Carlos Bocanegra cleared a dangerous ball in front of the goal line and Jonathan Spencer twice blocked close-range shots. Keeper Tim Howard got down low for a leg save in the fourth minute but otherwise the Italian shots came right to him.

Despite being outshot 11-5 by the Italians, the Americans held on for a historic win that boosts confidence for 2012 World Cup qualifying play, which begins in 100 days against Antigua & Barbuda in Tampa.

Feb. 29 in Genoa
Italy 0 USA 1. Goal: Dempsey 55.
Italy -- Buffon; Maggio (Abate 69), Barzagli, Ogbonna, Criscito (Chiellini 46); Nocerino (Montolivo 46), Pirlo, Marchisio (De Rossi 69); Thiago Motta (Pazzini 58); Giovinco, Matri (Borini 58).
USA -- Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Johnson (Spector 76); Edu, Bradley, Dempsey (Buddle 90), Shea (Kljestan 72), Williams; Altidore (Boyd 78).
Referee: Firat Aydinus (Turkey).

Dempsey’s strike against Italy …



18 comments
  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.
    Well, we certainly won't be hearing from all those nabobs who insisted that nepotism was the only reason Bradley ever made the side. He was by far the MOTM for the US today. Pure class.

  1. Paul Lorinczi
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.
    Great game. You can argue tactics and approach. There is a different confidence in the US play now. Michael Bradley is even playing better now. Let's see if they can take that confidence into games against Scotland and Brazil in May.

  1. Mark N
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 7:16 p.m.
    Didn't get to see the game unfortunately, but glad to hear MB did well. He had better be earning MOTM regularly after 4-5 yrs of playing 90 minutes in most USMNT games.

  1. George Hoyt
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 7:19 p.m.
    Bradley showed true class today and his time in Italy seems to have improved his game immensely. Would love to have seen Gooch out there- with some decent playing time in Portugal, I'm sure he'd have been ready. Edu also looked sharp- only one potentially disasterous give away. They pulled it off with a modicum of style too. Great work!

  1. Manuel Trejo-von Angst
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 7:22 p.m.
    Woah woah, two things...1) Bradley played well but that does nothing to invalidate him getting the job because of nepotism. He's had many, MANY horrible games before this one. He played very well today and hopefully that continues. I'm guessing playing in Italy and being familiar with the Italian style helped inform his choices there today. 2) I'd rather hear from the anti-German contingent on this site. Uhhh, our boys who play and/or learned in Germany did pretty darn good, no? Maybe it's not so bad to pick up players with US ties who learned in Germany.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
    Major props for JK! But a healthy program always includes constructive critcism and some negativity. For this game: 1. The Danny Williams as a wide player experiment must end. Good defender, but offers nothing in attack. Big hole on the right side kills attack. 2. Jozy, notwithstanding the assist, is still lazy at times, falls down, and has horrific off the ball movement. Shea suffered because of him. Hopofully JK lights a fire under him as he did with Michael Bradley. 3. Shea is thinking faster but still not taking defenders on deep as much as he should. Needs to leave MLS soon. 4. Boca got lucky, repeatedly, because young Italy attackers mistimed runs and got caught off. Boca needs to be phased out soon. More experienced forwards, and Boca is responsible for three goals easy. 5. Edu is not our best #8 by a long shot. He would be great off the bench to help hold a lead or tie. Hopefully Holden recovers fully. Now the good: We have a LB in Johnson. We have a true #6 in Bradley now that he has taken to the instruction--probably both at club and NAT level. He was controlled, not reckless in his challenges, and smart with the ball Once Chandler replaces Dolo, and Cameron or someone else replaces boca, and we get an infusion of young attacking depth from the U-23s we should be fine by WC '14.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 7:49 p.m.
    Italy did not look good at all. Good win for USA. Nice goal. Terrible defense on it by Italy. USA still is missing creativity and it shows even more with this style Klins is implementing.

  1. Jack Niner
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.
    Congrats US MNT - haven't seen the game but quality strike from ClintD. I guess it's baby steps, not leaps, forward.

  1. Tim Gibson
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 8:57 p.m.
    BONER!

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 9:34 p.m.
    I agree with Manuel about Bradley. But I am glad that he is finally playing well. If this is the new Bradley then he is definetely our #6 for good. But I am getting tired of my favorite (Donovan) constantly pulling himself out of the National Team for all type of inane reasons, ever since JK is trying to build a new format. If team keep playing like today, Dempsey in a goal scoring series, all the injured healthy and some of the U23 in good form will be knocking on the door where will (an already aging) Donovan go?? He is slowly leaving himself out of the squad. What a shame that he is a "spoiled baby".

  1. Kent James
    commented on: February 29, 2012 at 10:10 p.m.
    Our guys played well, but we stole won from Italy today and should recognize that. On the other hand, beating Italy in Italy is never easy, so credit to the boys. I have mixed feelings about the fact that we played pretty defensively (not a fan of two defensive center midfielders), but I have to admit we did it well and it worked. It probably also made sense to take that approach when we're missing so many of our more offensive players (Donovan, Holden, Torres). I thought we gave Pirlo way too much space (he was hitting some incredible balls), and their small, exceptionally quick forward was a nightmare to cover, but I thought the back four played well. There were a few times they exposed our lack of speed in the middle (Bocanegra and Goodson) early, but we seemed to adjust to cover. I thought we worked the ball out of the back reasonably well on the few times we had opportunities to do that (though anytime we go back to Howard, who knows where his kick will go). Dempsey and Altidore by themselves up top doth not an offense make. Although I'm not a big fan of the German emphasis, Johnson seems like a keeper and the new forward certainly has promise. I thought Williams disappeared for long stretches of the game, so I didn't think he added much. Howard should also get more credit; sure, a lot of there shots were at him, but some of them had quite a bit of power and his presence kept the defense calm and focused. M Bradley showed why he's an integral part of this team; he's the best defensive midfielder we've got (and though he didn't go forward much today, he can attack as needed, which is why he's better than Edu, who is very good defensively, but not as good going forward). Both of them are better than Jones. It wasn't pretty, but I'm certainly not going to complain about beating Italy in Italy!

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 4:54 a.m.
    Beating Italy in Italy is huge regardless of how pretty it was. Dempsey is world-class. It's nice to see Altidore and Bradley improving. Bradley was miscast by his father as the go to guy on offense. He always looked like he had some promise as a defender and with his father out of the picture, he now has a more appropriate role which, ironically, gives him a much greater chance of success, moving forward, than his father ever gave him

  1. D Vb
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.
    David S...I agree with your comments. At this point, Boca and Edu are not national team caliber. I think JK knows Cameron is the future. Hopefully that transition will happen sooner rather than later.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 9:28 a.m.
    This was a great win no matter how you analyze it. Great job overall by our boys.Bradley,was very good, but man of the match was Clint Dempsey.Back line did well enough,but I agree though, its' time to be looking to faze out Bocanegro.Johnson as a LB looks like a great move. With Chandler set to eventually replace Cherundolo on the right, our flank back positions may be set for a long time to come.Shea did OK, needs to learn how to defend.Edu was rock solid for the most part.Williams faded in and out of the game, but he is still very young.I saw no mistakes by Goodson.Weakest player on pitch except for a couple of shinning seconds, Altidore.I don't think I have ever seen a slower or more clumsy forward.I'm not sure we'll see any much more out of him. We need to be looking for alternatives.

  1. John Pomeroy
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
    On behalf of the anti-German contingent, let me say that against a tough European foe like Italy some of the Germans brought class that lead to the result. But our most important games are in CONCACAF. For those games we need players who have been there dozens of times: Bradley, Dempsey, Bocanegra, Cherundulo, Howard, etc. I will believe in Fabian Johnson after he has made the trek to Central America a few times & played as well as he did yesterday there. Dempsey is our greatest player & somehow has raised his game even higher than before. Donovan will play an important role when he returns (as a forward please) but the focus will never be around him again. Edu & Bradley played too flat, left too much space behind them & lost track of Pirlo too often(!) Not sure if Beckerman is the answer but we need more bite there.

  1. Robert Heinrich
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 2:09 p.m.
    I was hoping for improvement in this game and wasn't disappointed. Let's not forget that Pirlo is a rare, rare talent. There are few players in the world who can, almost nonchalantly, turn and deliver a pinpoint ball from 35 yards away. Push Bradley/Edu upfield too far defensively and suddenly there's a large gap in front of the back 4 that a team as intelligent as Italy will mercilessly exploit. Pirlo is good enough to find the space to make that pass into the vacated area. I think tactically they did the right thing by having Dempsey drop a little deeper and try to force Pirlo up into the area where our d-mids were waiting.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 3:14 p.m.
    Robert, I agree with your observation about pressuring Pirlo; if Edu or Bradley play too high, they get shredded (but if no one pressures, Pirlo picks out the forwards cutting behind our defenders, who were fortunately offside most of the time). I think that pressure on Pirlo has to come from the forwards (probably Dempsey, because he's the most withdrawn). But then you risk asking your forwards to play so much defense it hurts their offensive efforts. On the other hand, once we were up a goal, there probably should have been more defensive efforts from the forwards (I thought Boyd did well in this regard). I guess if the solution were easy, we'd win every game.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 1, 2012 at 5:26 p.m.
    I will take the German players anyday over the English players in terms of superior skill, conditioning and team chemistry. Michael Bradley appears to have improved since his dad was sacked and he has been able to develop outside the nepotistic influences on position, playing time and starter status that were previously automatics for him. Ein volk, ein Klinsmann, ein USA!


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