After a slow start under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team did something they have never done: beat Italy. And they did it in their backyard.
On Wednesday February 29, 2012, the U.S. defeated Italy 1-0 at Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa, Italy. Midfielder Clint Dempsey came up big once again for the U.S. His goal in the 55th minute proved to be the game-winner. But it was forward Jozy Altidore who set up the play beautifully. With his back to the goal, Altidore trapped a cross out of the air penalty mark. After drawing the attention of three Italy defenders, Altidore found Dempsey with a soft touch pass. Dempsey then beat the keeper with a low shot to the side of the net. Dempsey became just the fourth American to score a goal against Italy. [video: Clint Dempsey Scores for USA vs. Italy]
Although this was only a friendly match between the U.S. and Italy, it was a historic and important win. The U.S. victory was their first ever win against Italy. It took just 11 games (78 years) to get it. This truly was a meaningful win for the U.S.
Italy is known as a world soccer power. They have won the World Cup four times and are currently ranked eighth in the world. The last thing they wanted to do was lose for the first time against a work in progress U.S. team. Italy Head Coach Cesare Prandelli seemed unsettled by the surprising loss saying that he "liked the way [Italy] played and the defeat was undeserved."
With players like Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Sebastian Giovinco and of course Gianluigi Buffon in goal, Italy was trying to win this game. They dominated the U.S. for most of the game, possessing the ball for 61% of the time. Italy also outshot the U.S. 19-4. However, the only shot that mattered was the one by Dempsey.
Credit the U.S. defense for turning away attack after attack from Italy. Watching the game, it seemed like Italy would eventually break through and find the net. But the U.S. defenders did a nice job clogging the middle and denying easy scoring opportunities.
Klinsmann was hired to change and improve the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team. There was clearly an adjustment period from the start. Klinsmann is certainly different from prior U.S. coaches. He brought a different style and mindset to the team. Now Klinsmann has delivered a different result: a win against Italy.
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Edwin Torres has been coaching competitive youth soccer since 2001. He enjoys coaching, playing and watching the game of soccer. For more articles, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.
- Clint Dempsey
- Jurgen Klinsmann
- Jozy Altidore