BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Italy vs United States
Friendly - Wednesday February 29, 2012
Stadio Luigi Ferraris
The United States national team pulled off a stunning upset Wednesday night in Genoa as a Clint Dempsey second half goal proved all the Americans need to defeat four-time World Cup champions. Italy.
The US team is coming off a difficult week where five key players all suffered injuries that prevented them from joining the team. Oguchi Onyewu, Jermaine Jones, Jose Torres, Timothy Chandler, and Landon Donovan all were part of the wave of injuries and were forced to miss the match.

Instead, the United States started the game with a backline of Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, and Fabian Johnson who was making his first international start at that position.

In the midfield Klinsmann went with Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu playing behind Brek Shea, Clint Dempsey, and Danny Williams. Alone up top was Jozy Altidore.

The defense was put to the test quickly when a pass found Thiago Motta alone in the box but Howard was able to muster a kick save on Motta's hard driving shot.

As the half moved forward, the Italians would continue to pressure the American defense but the US were still able to manage opportunities.

In the 25th minute following a foul on Altidore 23 yards out, Clint Demspey sent in a hard free kick that was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

The Italian team's offense was generated through Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo who attempted to find his forwards in dangerous positions. The US team's backline was organized and that was a leading reason why the Italians were called for offsides nine times.

"I think we were in a good shape defensively," Klinsmann said afterward. "[Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, and Steve Cherundolo] have a lot of experience. Fabian [Johnson] is another big talent that is growing with every game. I was not worried about that. I was worried about how we could stop those balls from Pirlo all the time. They did well."

In the 55th minute, the US stunned the Italian crowd at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on a play that began with Michael Bradley finding Fabian Johnson who was making a move up the left side. Johnson swung in a cross that found Altidore in the box 12 yards from goal. Altidore laid off a nice short pass for Dempsey who hit a low show past Buffon to give the US a 1-0 lead.

"It was a good chip [from Johnson] into Jozy [Altidore]," Dempsey said of the play. "He brought the ball down well. I was going to stay where I was and try to get a shot off. But I was being covered so I moved right to get into an area where I could get a shot on goal. When he played the ball, I just tried to get a good first touch and hit it hard and low."

For the remainder of the second half, the US team would continue to absorb increased Italian pressure.

Jonathan Spector entered the game for Fabian Johnson at left back in the 76th minute and the Birmingham City defender made several nice desperation plays that broke up Italian shots on goal.

In the 85th minute, Bocanegra made perhaps the defensive play of the game when he slid in and broke up an Ignazio Abate cross just a few feet away from the goal.

"I think we kept our discipline very well tonight," Bocanegra said. "I think the midfielders and the forwards defended. Our shape was really good tonight. There was a lot of teamwork and everybody fought for each other. You saw a lot of guys blocking shots."

When the final whistle sounded, the Americans celebrated. While it was just a friendly, the game was historic in that it gave them the first ever win over Italy.

"It's was awesome," Howard said. "We felt good. We felt confident. It was a strange game. They had a lot of the ball but you're going to get that away from home against a top quality side. But it's big for us. I know it's only a friendly but it was historic for our first win ever."

Next up for the US team will be a trio of friendlies beginning on May 26 against Scotland. Four days later the US team will face Brazil and then on June 3 they will visit Canada in Toronto. That will set the stage for the opening game of their World Cup qualifying against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8.

For Dempsey a win against Italy on the road is a perfect way to head into their first major games under Klinsmann.

"It's always good to get a result against a team like this away from home," Dempsey said. "It helps with our confidence going into the World Cup qualifying campaign. We want to hit the ground running."

Entering into this game, the US had never beaten Italy in 11 previous games and Bocanegra was on the team the last two times.

"I feel like we've been short changed the last few times we've played them," Bocanegra concluded. "We had a red card in the [2009 Confederations Cup] and two red cards in the [2006 World Cup]. It feels really good."

For Klinsmann however, he was satisfied with the performance because he sees the team coming together.

"We are really pleased with the game," Klinsmann concluded. "If you beat Italy on their own soil, it means a lot. Our goal was to come here and learn. For our players this was big. It was a big step for them. I think they've done an awesome job today."
Friday March 2, 2012 6:56 am
Dear Kyle,
Altidore stinks.... It is obvious to me that klinsy is just waiting for his replacement to come along.. the usa may not have any better option at that position but that's not saying much at all. Seems to me that every position on the field has got stronger since jurgen has taken over except forward... I would not be surprised to see dempsey in the holding forward position with donovan playing the creative withdrawn forward role by the next friendly. Jozy riding the pine....
Thursday March 1, 2012 7:52 pm
USA played a great game. Lalas is not as bad as Ian Drake. He tell us nothing about the game. He kept ssaying if we win until the final whistle blew. He runs his big mouth about evrything but what is going on the fiels. ESPN needs to get better broadcasters. Shea gave the ball away too many times last night. Jozy can be lazy sometimes too. I know it was a friendly but the win was a great one. USA beat Italy on their own soil for the first time and Dempsey was the first American to score a goal. Way to go Usa. Espn just please get Shut Ian Drake up
Thursday March 1, 2012 6:43 pm
I just got a chance to watch this game, which I DVR'd yesterday. Lalas MUST GO. Seriously, anything - including white noise - is better than Lalas (actually, Wynalda might be worse). Doesn't ESPN and/or FOX actually use a panel of independent, confirmed soccer viewers to preview and grade potential announcers before they are hired, like every other TV studio? Seriously, Siri gives better soccer analysis than these clowns.

In rank order of best to worst: white noise > Lalas > Wynalda.
Julian Ybarra
Thursday March 1, 2012 3:38 pm
I agree with pretty much everything said here. To everyone criticizing the US parking the bus I ask you this: how many teams leading 1-0 in Italy wouldn't do the exact same thing? Spain, Holland, France, Germany, maybe a couple other teams. Not a big deal to me.

Also in terms of the TV analysts how about a tag-team of Steve McMannaman and Rob Stone? That would be sweet right?
Thursday March 1, 2012 3:21 pm
I am surprised that nobody has mentioned it yet, but Bradley had a stellar game. I have never seen his decision making and field vision operating like this. It was an excellent all around game with very few mistakes.

Those of you who are pounding on Shea are correct that his last two games have been very disappointing. I don't think this is because he is "not ready". If you watch him in the games he performed well in and the latest games, the difference has been his willingness and confidence in running at players. I don't know what happened, but it almost seems psychological.
Thursday March 1, 2012 3:04 pm
Great comments on here with the exception of Casey. Altidore is our best option "hands down," and was the architect of that goal.

Would love to see Lichaj in the lineup, and Shea is a ways off from competing at the senior level. Too much hype with him and Aguedelo but both have great potential.

Lalas might be the dumbest and most annoying sportscaster I've watched and that includes Costas and Keogh, so that's saying something.
Thursday March 1, 2012 2:49 pm
It's a shame that US Media insists on forcing ex-players down our throats. Lalas is nuts and wastes my time. I record games just so I can fast forward anything to do with him. I'm perfectly happy with having British commentators who don't fill time with nonsense about how Dempset ate Ravioli or Americans who happen to be able to speak clearly. I could care less if they scored 50 goals in MLS.
Thursday March 1, 2012 1:53 pm
Hate to say it, but flop of the match was Alexi Lalas' and his painful analysis...I feel embarrassed when he opens his mouth...sorry, I had to vent.
Thursday March 1, 2012 1:27 pm
Is it me or is no one mentioning Danny Williams? I thought he was great on the flank, although he made some turnovers which could be changed. At least he was active a lot and constantly running, even if it was defending. I'm not saying he was man of the match or anything close, just that I think he deserves a shout out.
Thursday March 1, 2012 11:58 am
Im impressed with the comments about this game. Yes, we did bunker down probabley from the shock of being ahead of one of the best european teams. Yes, Altidore has glaring weaknesses, however he does come up with the big play now and then. His strength is a big plus. He should never play an entire game. I really believe he is a super sub, when the other team is getting tired bring him in the 60th or 70th minute and his strength will help us and his lack of stamina wont matter. And yes Shea seems overated although Ed is right as he should be playing for our Olympic team first. And also yes Lichaj could definintely help us. And finally about Lalas, who cares about his take on the team? Great and YES historic win! This "friendly" will make us believe.
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