USA-Italy: Two teams trying to rebuild close out 2018 season

The USA closes out its 2018 men's schedule with a friendly against Italy on Tuesday in the Belgian city of Genk.

Like the USA, the Azzurri are trying to rebuild after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and will field a young team. But unlike the USA, Italy has a permanent coach in place, Roberto Mancini, and has been tested in a series of competitive matches.

With Italy's UEFA Nations League campaign behind it -- it finished second in its group -- Mancini will use the match on Tuesday to continue to test young players. Just six starters from the 0-0 tie with Portugal in the final Nations League match in Milan were retained.

Italy's squad includes 19-year-old AC Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnaurumma, who already has 11 caps, and 18-year-olds Sandro Tonali (Brescia) and Moise Kean (Juventus), who are among six players looking for their first cap on Tuesday.

“We need to get to know them better, to see them in action,” Mancini told RAI television. “I think there are many talented players out there. They just need to gain some experience, to ensure that we can have a bright future ahead of us.”

That sounds very familiar to what U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan has been saying the last year as he's given 22 players their first cap in the 11 games he's been in charge.

All the U.S. matches have been friendlies, but the last six games have been against 2018 World Cup finalists. The USA beat Mexico (1-0), tied France (1-1) and Peru (1-1) and lost to Brazil (2-0), Colombia (4-2) and England (3-0). Of those games, Thursday's match against England at Wembley was probably the poorest performance.

"Over the course of 12 months," Sarachan said at Monday's press conference, "in all the matches we've played, we've made it somewhat hard on teams -- whether it's getting in on tackles or blocking passing lanes or making it difficult for teams to really create a lot of chances. I thought in the England game we lost that element a little bit."

Lineup changes. With Weston McKennie back at Schalke 04, Tyler Adams, one of four players in the U.S. team still in the MLS playoffs, should start in midfield. Aaron Long, Adam's New York Red Bulls teammates, could get a start in the back after an encouraging debut in October against Peru. Ethan Horvath, who plays in Belgium for Club Brugge, might get his first start of 2018. Sarachan said 18-year-old Josh Sargent, who scored in the 1-1 tie with Peru, was ready to go after sitting out the England game with an ankle injury.

Series. The only U.S. win in the 11-game series came in the last meeting between the two teams in 2012. Clint Dempsey's goal gave the USA a 1-0 win in Genoa -- the first big victory of Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure. No player from either team was called in for Tuesday's game.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 60/0), Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin/GER; 0/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0)
DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 36/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 11/1), Shaq Moore (Reus/ESP; 4/0), Jorge Villafana (Portland Timbers; 20/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 57/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 22/2), Tyler Adams (NY Red Bulls; 8/1), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmo/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth/GER; 15/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 4/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 22/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 10/0), Tim Weah (Paris SG/FRA; 8/1)
FORWARDS (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 44/13).

Italy Roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Alessio Cragno (Cagliari; 0/0), Gianluigi Donnaurumma (AC Milan; 11/0), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino; 18/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Francesco Acerbi (Lazio; 2/0), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina; 4/1), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus; 84/6), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus; 36/0), Gianluca Manchini (Atalanta; 0/0), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea/ENG; 1/0), Daniele Rugani (Juventus; 7/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Nicolò Barella (Cagliari; 3/0), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter Milan; 5/0), Vincenzo Grifo (Hoffenheim/GER; 0/0), Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo; 0/0), Sandro Tonali (Brescia; 0/0), Marco Verratti (Paris SG/FRA; 28/1)
FORWARDS (6): Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo; 4/0), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina; 10/0), Moise Kean (Juventus; 0/0), Kevin Lasagna (Udinese; 2/0), Leonardo Pavoletti (Cagliari; 0/0), Matteo Politano (Inter Milan; 1/0).
Note: In parentheses are caps and goals.
8 comments about "USA-Italy: Two teams trying to rebuild close out 2018 season".
  1. Wooden Ships, November 20, 2018 at 8:12 a.m.

    Good luck guys. Looking forward to Ethan in goal and Sargent up top. Do we have a chance to compete in the winning of the middle third? It’s the holiday season, all I want for Christmas is the selection of a manager, ideally this Christmas. Hugo Perez for me.

  2. frank schoon, November 20, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

    Italy has a good coach who likewise was a good player and no know how to play good soccer. Although Cruyff was no fan of Italian soccer, he was always very positive over Mancini as an intelligent player.
    I like to see Sargent play, but realize a young front line are facing defenders who know how to defend, for that's what Italy breeds and is good at. It is going to be much tougher than usual for young ones like Sargent to play against; therefore I would have like to have played against England rather Italy ,if he plays(ed). We can be too harsh on these young guys if they do play against Italian defenders. 
    The Italian defender's attitude after the game is to whistle in the showers if they stop their man from scoring. That is all they care about, very focused in stopping their man and that's it!

  3. frank schoon replied, November 20, 2018 at 9:55 a.m.

    I meant we can't be too harsh or rather reserve judgment on our young attackers. Lets just watch the for what it's worth. 
    Maybe their will be a surprise announcement at halftime that we've signed a new coach... a family member of Cordeiro....LOL

  4. Wooden Ships replied, November 20, 2018 at 11:23 a.m.

    Frank, I’ve always loved the Italians game and their pride in defending and stubbornly keeping possession in their defensive third. The pride they have in ball skills, isn’t unlike other countries. Scoring against Italy is personal achievement that stays with a player.
    Does Vegas have odds on a managerial selection before Christmas? Not over, under, but before, after? 

  5. frank schoon replied, November 20, 2018 at 11:52 a.m.

    Ships, Lowe just got fired....

  6. frank schoon replied, November 20, 2018 at 11:55 a.m.

    Sorry, read it wrong, but don't be surprised if he is....

  7. beautiful game, November 20, 2018 at 10:44 a.m.

    Let's see a complete change on this starting 11 against Italy. Time to evaluate those players that have seen little or no playimng time since last month. At this stage, the end result is less important than identifying players that can make things happen and deliver.

  8. Wooden Ships replied, November 20, 2018 at 11:16 a.m.

    I agree with some of that sentiment bg, but I’m not willing to leave out CP and a couple others. The need to win isn’t primary, agreed. I want to see an emphasis on trying to balance possession in the mid. Tall task, but it would be my focus.

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