[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 …