By David Fleenor
The United States men’s national team won for the first time against Italy in the 82 year history and 11 matches between the two countries. Clint Dempsey scored the lone goal on the counter but what did we learn from the Wednesday night match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa.
Clint Dempsey is the man! – Clint Dempsey has stepped up to become the go-to player for the U.S. men’s national team. The Fulham player, who has 16 goals for his club this season, has the nose for goal and the ability to finish his chances. With his goal, Dempsey became only the fourth U.S. player to score against Italy. He joins Aldo Donelli in 1934, John Harkes in 1992 and Landon Donovan from the penalty spot in 2009’s Confederations Cup to score against Italy.
Jozy Altidore and the Formation – Jozy Altidore was at his best setting up the game winner. The AZ Alkmaar forward did a great job to bring the ball down at the penalty spot with his back to goal. He then had the awareness to play the ball to Dempsey rather than trying to turn.
Otherwise, Altidore did not make much of an impression and it is largely because as a solo forward he does not get enough support. This has happened in past matches with one true forward so if we are to have the attacking side we have been promised two forwards are a must.
U.S Defense – The U.S. defense did its job in keeping a clean sheet but the method is still very nerve wracking to watch. Despite having a weakened attack, Italy still was able to break down the U.S. back four in the center and on the flanks. The U.S. was forced to make several last ditch lunging efforts - most notably from Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Spector – late, the unit appeared especially early to have trouble with balls over the top, and a relatively weakened Italy side was able to break down and find space amongst the defense. Italy was called for offside nine times, once pulling the ball out of back of net.
Terrence Boyd – Jurgen Klinsmann is no doubt committed to finding a great German born American to become the next poster boy for U.S. soccer and his next gamble came with Terrence Boyd earning his first cap when he came on in the 78th minute. The Borussia Dortmund forward has yet to get time on the field for his club side although he is doing well and scoring goals with the Black and Yellows reserve team. The 19-year-old has plenty of time to impress and might one day become the next poster boy and goal scorer for the U.S. but was this jumping the gun a little?
Soccer365 challenge to Klinsmann – For every German American that earns their first cap with the MNT can the side give an opportunity to a talented Mexican American player? They can even be playing with a reserve team.
Signature Win? – Every coach desperately seeks the ‘signature win’ to give credence to fans, administrators and their employer that they are the right man for the job and that their vision is headed in the right direction.
This was certainly a huge win for the U.S. that provided a number of firsts and was a win that will no doubt instill confidence in the players heading into World Cup qualifying that starts in June but it was NOT the ‘signature win’ fans are searching for.
The U.S. won but it did not show that the U.S. team has turned a corner and are ready to play the creative attacking style that Klinsmann has promised. The game if anything showed that Klinsmann is willing to return to the team’s strategy from years past – that being to play solid in defense and take advantage of limited opportunities – when necessary so we will have to wait longer for the ‘signature win.’
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