The Washington Post

U.S. men’s soccer team stuns Italy in friendly, 1-0

Clint Dempsey strikes a shot that beats Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for the only goal of the match. (Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

I’m watching on Daniel Island, S.C., not in Genoa, so I won’t clutter your viewing experience with my minute-by-minute take. Instead, here’s a half-by-half breakdown.

U.S. lineup (4-2-3-1): Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Johnson (Spector 77th); Bradley, Edu; Williams, Dempsey, Shea (Kljestan 73rd); Altidore (Boyd 79th).

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

FIRST HALF: After a worrisome start, the Americans settled their nerves in the back and began to knock the ball around effectively. Unlocking the typically stout Azzurri backline, though, was another matter. Pirlo and Italy set the tempo and was better on the ball, but Howard was severely tested just once in making a foot save. Clint Dempsey’s provided the most dangerous U.S. threat with a wicked free kick at Buffon. Italy 0, United States 0.

SECOND HALF: In the 55th minute, Johnson crossed into the box for Altidore, who held up the ball with his back to the target and laid it off to Dempsey for a 17-yard one-timer. It wasn’t struck with incredible pace but was perfectly placed, a low bid beyond the reach of the diving Buffon. Dempsey, enjoying a sensational season with Fulham in the Premier League, has scored 25 internatonal goals. The Americans maintained their rhythm, targeting the powerful Altidore, before Italy began performing with greater urgency. Bocanegra blocked a clear bid deep in the box and Spector was attentive to Italy’s efforts. The American defense bent but didn’t break. After seven losses and three draws, the first USA victory over Italy ... in history.

United States 1, Italy 0.

Man of the match: Michael Bradley, the only U.S. national team player employed in Serie A with Chievo. A commanding performance in deep midfield.

More on the game from the Associated Press: Dempsey gives U.S. its first win over Italy.

The Americans will play friendlies against Scotland on May 26 in Jacksonville, Brazil on May 30 in Landover, Md., and Canada on June 3 in Toronto before starting 2014 World Cup qualifying.

In other news, let’s congratulate former U.S. World Cup performers Tony Meola and Claudio Reyna for their election into the National Soccer Hall of Fame today. They easily crossed the two-thirds threshold in voting by Hall members, media, coaches and management.

Both are former University of Virginia players.

However, the 4 percent of voters who didn’t include Reyna on their ballot and the 10 percent who ignored Meola, please explain yourselves.

Marco Etcheverry and Joe-Max Moore received 59 percent and 58 percent, respectively. Full details here.

Desmond Armstrong, a longtime national team defender from the University of Maryland, was elected on the veteran ballot. Tony DiCicco, who oversaw the U.S. women’s team world title in 1999, was elected through the builder ballot.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.


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