New England Soccer Today

Italy Upset!

Clint Dempsey scored his 25th international goal in the USA's upset of Italy on Wednesday. (Photo: Chris Aduama/

Former New England Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey found the back of the net in the 55th minute to hand the U.S. Men’s National Team its first-ever victory over four time world champions Italy, 1-0, on Wednesday.

Tim Howard and the U.S. defense held strong to keep the shutout, making Dempsey’s goal stand as the winner and giving the 31st ranked U.S. a shock upset over the 8th ranked Italians in Genoa, Italy.

Dempsey put the U.S. on top in the 55th minute after some nice work by Jozy Altidore. A cross from Fabian Johnson found Altidore who did well to hold up the ball and lay it off for Dempsey. Dempsey, at the top of the box, hit a low shot to the far post past a diving Buffon to put the U.S. ahead.

The match wasn’t always so pretty for the U.S. The Americans, at times, struggled to get possession away from Italy and were saved by some poorly timed runs leading to nine offside calls for the home team.

Of course Howard and the defense, led by captain Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson deserve their share of the credit as well. Howard came up big on several occasions and the defense did well, with a few exceptions, holding their line to catch Italy offside.

Howard’s good positioning kept Italy off the score sheet just under five minutes into the game. Alessandro Matri, just outside the six-yard box, got on the end of a low cross from the right flank and powered a low shot on frame, but Howard, with no time to react, managed to block the shot with his legs.

Italy came close again in the 9th minute when Sebastian Giovinco got behind the U.S. defense to get on the end of a long ball. Giovinco, under pressure from Howard, couldn’t control the bouncing ball and the chance was wasted.

Brek Shea fluffed the best early chance of the match for the U.S in the 10th minute, when Johnson streaked down the left flank and sent a square pass to Dempsey just outside the box. Dempsey flicked it on to Shea at the top of the box, but the FC Dallas midfielder couldn’t get his shot on frame.

Giovinco again caused the U.S. problems in the 19th minute, getting behind Carlos Bocanegra on another long ball. The 5-foot-4 striker was forced toward the end line and his shot from a tight angle was saved by Howard.

Dempsey finally tested Gianliugi Buffon in the 38th minute after Jozy Altidore earned a free kick just outside the box.  Dempsey curled a free kick through the wall with a bit of pace on it, but his effort was right at Buffon, who made the save.

It was Howard’s positioning again that kept the match scoreless going into halftime. This time a powerful shot from Thiago Motta at the top of the box left Howard little time to react, but was well kept out by Howard who was in the right spot.

The U.S. struggled to get possession early in the second half, but did well to deny Italy any dangerous chances until Dempsey struck for his 25th international. Dempsey’s goal moves him out of a tie with former Revolution striker Joe-Max Moore and alone into fourth place on the all-time U.S. goal scorers list.

Howard preserved the U.S. lead in the 63rd minute, denying Fabio Borini from close range after some nice work by Giampaolo Pazzini to set him up.

The U.S. defense came up huge in the 78th minute to keep Italy out of the net, first with captain Carlos Bocanegra sliding in to block a cross in front of the goalmouth out for a corner. Seconds later it was substitute Jonathan Spector getting in position to block a powerful shot from Borini.

That wouldn’t be Spector’s last block, as the 25-year-old Manchester United defender played a big role, along with the rest of the U.S. defense and midfielders, particularly Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu, to keep Italy at bay as they pressed for an equalizer late in the match.

The win improved the U.S. to 3-0-0 in 2012 and 5-4-1 under head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. The U.S. returns to action with an international friendly against Scotland on May 26 in Jacksonville, Fla. Following friendlies against Scotland, Brazil and Canada, the U.S. opens World Cup qualifying against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8.


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