The Italian Job

History. That is what was made on Wednesday in Genoa when the US Men’s National team beat Italy, marking their first victory against the Azzurri ever. Many will point to the fact that this was just an international friendly, but I believe it was much more than that.

First of all, let’s give you a rundown of the game. The Red, White, and Blue rolled out with a rather experienced starting lineup, having almost all of their key european based players on hand. The starting XI, which consisted of a 4-2-3-1 formation, was as follows:

Subs: Buddle, Spector, Guzan, Kljestan, Cameron, Parkhurst, Rimando, Boyd

A fairly strong selection for new coach Jurgen Klinsmann, although he was missing Landon Donovan, Juan Agudelo, Oguchi Onyewu, and Timothy Chandler.

The Americans weren’t overly impressive, but they possessed the “bend but don’t break” mentality that seems to be prevalent for this side. The Italians were on the attack all night, but the US defense held firm along their line, forcing the home side into nine offside calls. Now I will admit, some were a bit questionable and several called back goals, but overall it was a very impressive outing for the defensive group. The attack was somewhat lackluster at times, and I would have liked to see a little more out of the creative Clint Dempsey, Brek Shea, and Jozy Altidore, but they clicked when it mattered. A 55th minute strike by Dempsey would prove to be the difference. This goal would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Altidore’s strength on the ball to fend off the defender in the box and then lay off a pass to an overlapping Dempsey, who shot it back against the grain into the lower left corner, past the outstretching hands of the Italian goalkeeper Buffon. The goal aside, US starlet Brek Shea was non-existent in this game, succumbing to crucial turnovers in the attacking third. He was very erratic on the ball, beating one defender and then passing it to no one. Hopefully this was just a bump in the road for the young winger that has shown great potential in the past. On the other end of the spectrum, the center holding midfield play by Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu was impressive. Bradley, not making the squad at first with Klinsmann, has entrenched himself in the center midfield position and has been one of the most consistent players on the team. The Glasgow Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu provided defensive relief for the back four by making some crucial tackles throughout the course of play. It was fun watching this tandem work together in the middle of the field.

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