Wednesday, February 29, proved to be an excellent and rewarding day for American soccer fans. As reported at msn.fox.com, the United States beat Italy 1 - 0 with a goal in the 55th minute. The goal was made by Clint Dempsey, who kicked the ball past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon from just inside the penalty area and secured USA's first victory over Italy.
As someone who is a relatively new fan of soccer, I was excited to watch my nation's team win such a monumental victory. I began following the sport a few months prior to the exhibition match between Italy and USA, and had been biding my time by feeding a new addiction to the English Premier League (I follow Tottenham). The February 29 friendly between Italy and USA was my first opportunity to watch my own "home team" compete.
I am admittedly new to the sport and certainly not yet an expert, but for some time I have carried the hope that Jurgen Klinsmann's proven leadership style would help USA close the long-standing gap between itself and the more dominant forces within the sport, such as Brazil and Germany. I am wise enough to realize that my nation's team has a long road ahead of it before it can hope to compete on that level, if indeed USA ever does reach that point, but the victory against Italy at least suggests that such progress may be achievable in the long run.
One thing I did notice during the match, however, and verified with statistics from ESPN after the match, was that the United States was in no way dominant on offense despite its win. Italy possessed the ball for 61% of the match compared to USA's 39%, and made 19 goal attempts to USA's four. Furthermore, Italy's nine offsides infractions represented a dominant offensive game that moved the ball downfield very quickly against USA's struggling defense. I am not suggesting that USA did not deserve the win, but the statistics and what I noticed personally while watching the match would suggest that the victory needs to be viewed in the proper light. My opinion is that USA has notably improved, but is still faced with a long, uphill battle in a country that spares comparatively little attention for international football.Christopher Brown is a relatively new fan of International Soccer who has loosely followed FIFA over the years but just recently developed a strong attraction to the sport. He is now a committed soccer fan and hopes to watch the U.S. become a more dominant challenger in the world's most widely followed sport.
- Clint Dempsey
- Gianluigi Buffon
- English Premier League