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Del Piero Leads Italy to 1-0 Win Over U.S.


CATANIA, Italy (Wednesday, February 13, 2002) — The U.S. Men’s National Team battled valiantly this afternoon in a 1-0 loss to three-time World Cup champions Italy at the Stadio Cibali in Catania, Sicily.  Despite a strong first-half performance for the U.S., which saw the team outshoot the Italians 9 to 3 in the first 45 minutes, the USA fell victim to second-half substitute Alessandro Del Piero’s 62nd minute goal as the Juventus forward attacked relentlessly in the second half.

The Italian goal came at the end of a fast break for the Azzurri that began after Gianluca Zambrotta aggressively won a ball off the foot of David Regis along the right midfield flank.  Zambrotta quickly hit Massimo Marazzina down the wing, where the Italian was able to get behind the U.S. defense and slot an easy pass to an unmarked Del Piero, who was standing alone in front of an empty U.S. net.

Moments before his goal, Del Piero attacked the U.S. net by dribbling around Jeff Agoos in the area and hitting a right-footed shot that Friedel did well to parry away with his right hand.  That attempt came in the 51st minute, and just five minutes later Del Piero was in the U.S. box again, this time trying to redirect a cross from Fracesco Coco toward goal, but Regis was there to defend the ball over the end line.

“We missed opportunities in the first half,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena.  “With Italy making four changes at halftime, it made a big difference for them.  There were many positive things for us in the game today, but it would be foolish to look at this game as a moral victory.  We are pleased with the effort as we continue to move forward in our preparations.”

In the first half the U.S. played cohesively, creating the game's best chances with Landon Donovan unluckily hitting the post on a breakaway in just the eighth minute of the game.  On the play, the 19-year-old Donovan knocked a well-placed shot off the lower left side of the post after pouncing on a poor back-pass from the Italian midfield, which forced defender Marco Materazzi to slip as he went for the ball.  Donovan beat Inter Milan goalkeeper Francesco Toldo on the shot, but could not beat the post.

Donovan had another excellent chance in the 36th minute, taking a ball from Earnie Stewart down the left wing and then skillfully dribbling around world-renown defender Fabio Cannavaro in the penalty area to set himself up for a bending right-footed shot that just missed the upper-right corner of the goal.

The U.S. is now winless in five full internationals against the Italians, losing three times in Italy, and earning two draws on U.S. soil.  The U.S. lost 1-0 to the “Azzurri” in their last meeting in Italy, that one being a 1990 World Cup match in which the U.S. nearly shocked the world by earning a late draw after near misses from Bruce Murray and Peter Vermes.

The U.S. now returns home for a two-game domestic swing that will see the team play Honduras in Seattle on March 2 (live on ESPN at 1 p.m. PT) and Ecuador in Birmingham on March 10 (live on ABC at 3 p.m. CT).  The USA’s World Cup preparations continue in Europe in March and April, where the U.S. meets Germany on March 27 in Rostock, Germany, and Ireland on April 17 in Dublin. The U.S. then return home in May for their final World Cup preparations and the three-game "Nike Road to Korea".   Before playing their World Cup send-off match against Holland on May 19, the U.S. will face Uruguay on May 12 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., and then travel north to face Jamaica on May 16 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants:  U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Italy
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Stadio Cibali (Catania, Sicily)
Date: February 13, 2002; 8:45 pm local
Attendance: 25,493
Weather: 54 degrees (clear)

Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F
USA 0 - 0 - 0
Italy 0 - 1 - 1

ITA - Alessandro Del Piero (Massimo Marazzina), 62.
 
Lineups:
USA  -
  1-Brad Friedel; 22-Tony Sanneh (2-Frankie Hejduk, 59), 3-Gregg Berhalter, 12-Jeff Agoos, 6-David Regis; 5-John O’Brien, 14-Chris Armas, 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.)(7-Eddie Lewis, 80), 8-Earnie Stewart; 21-Landon Donovan (15-Josh Wolff, 65), 9-Joe-Max Moore (11-Jovan Kirovski, 79).
Subs Not Used: 18-Kasey Keller, 24-Pablo Mastroeni, 13-Cobi Jones

ITA -  1-Francesco Toldo; 2-Francesco Coco, 3-Mark Iuliano, 5-Fabio Cannavaro (capt.)( 13-Luigi Sartor, 82), 6-Marco Materazzi; 8-Damiano Tomassi (22-Gennarro Gattuso, 75), 7-Antonio Asta (21-Gianluca Zambrotta,46), 4-Cristiano Zanetti; 10-Francesco Totti (18-Alessandro Del Piero, 46); 9-Christian Vieri (19-Massimo Marazzina, 46), 11-Marco Di Vaio (17-Cristiano Doni, 46).
Subs Not Used: 12-Gianluigi Buffon, 16-Gianluca Pessotto, 14-Daniele Bonera, 15-Alesso Tacchinardi, 20-Angelo Di Livio.

Statistical Summary:  USA - ITA
Shots: 15 - 8
Saves: 1 - 4
Corner Kicks: 1 - 4
Fouls: 17 - 18
Offside: 6 - 3

Misconduct Summary:
 ITA – Marco Materazzi (caution) 58th minute.
 ITA – Gennarro Gattuso (caution) 90.

Referee: Joseph Attard (MLT)
Assistant Referee #1: Philip Agius (MLT)
Assistant Referee #2: Ronals Fariguas (MLT)
Fourth Official:  Emilio Pelligrino (ITA)

Chevrolet Man of Match:  Chris Armas

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