TSHAWNE/PRETORIA, South Africa (June 15, 2009) — The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 3-1 to defending world champion Italy to open the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
After going down a man when Ricardo Clark was shown a 33rd minute red card, the U.S. bounced back to take a 1-0 lead before halftime on a Landon Donovan penalty kick. In the second half, though, Italy took advantage of the additional space, scoring on two long-range efforts in the 58th and 72nd minutes before adding an insurance goal in stoppage time.
"It's disappointing." U.S. head coach Bob Bradley said. "To play against a team like Italy and be down a man takes extra strong efforts on a lot of parts, and I thought that part was good. After their goal, I thought we did a very good job for a period of time of still being organized and finding some opportunities going forward. At the end, we are taking more chances because we are still trying to find a way to get the equalizer. Unfortunately we couldn't do better with a few long range shots and corners in that period of time. They did well to finish the game. It's only the first game of the group, and now we move on."
After one day of group play, the U.S. sits in last place in Group B on goal differential following Brazil’s 4-3 victory against Egypt. Up next the U.S. faces group-leader Brazil on Wednesday, June 18, at 9:55 a.m. ET live on ESPN2 and Telefutura. Fans can also follow live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and at twitter.com/ussoccer.
The U.S. is now 1-3-0 in Confederations Cup openers, and 0-4-3 overall against the Italians. The multi-goal loss was the first by the U.S. to Italy since the 1934 FIFA World Cup when Italy won 7-1 in Rome.
In the first 15 minutes, the teams traded shots as Clint Dempsey blasted a free kick high from 30 yards out after Jozy Altidore drew a foul and later Alberto Gilardino hit a shot right down the middle into the arms of Tim Howard.
In the 20th minute, Italy had an early chance to score. After Jonathan Bornstein earned a yellow card for pulling down Mauro Camoranesi, Andrea Pirlo curved the free kick to the top of the six yard box where Nicola Legrottaglie beat Jonathan Spector but hit a diving header wide right.
Minutes later, the U.S. had a dangerous chance after Michael Bradley won a tackle and played the ball to Donovan to start a U.S. breakout. With Altidore drawing defenders, Donovan slotted a pass into the 18-yard box for Bradley, but he stumbled and couldn’t hit a clean shot with his left. Likewise, Donovan was the catalyst again in the 30th minute as he dribbled straight at the Italian defense drawing four defenders. He played Altidore through in nearly the same spot that Bradley was, but Altidore’s misguided return pass was easily intercepted.
In the 33rd minute, the match reached an early turning point similar to the last meeting between these teams at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when a first-half red card to a U.S. midfielder left the U.S. shorthanded against the Azzurri.
Just moments after the red card, it appeared as though Italy would take an immediate lead as Jonathan Bornstein slid and put a through ball intended for Camoranesi into the back of his own goal, but the linesman correctly flagged the play for offside.
Six minutes later, however, the U.S. luck would change for the better. Benny Feilhaber, who moved from right midfield to occupy Clark’s space in the left central midfield position, played a long diagonal ball to Altidore who got position inside on Giorgio Chiellini dribbling into the right side of the penalty area. As Altidore cut back, he was cut down by the Italian central defender setting up a penalty chance.
Donovan, wearing the captain’s armband with Carlos Bocanegra out with a hamstring strain, stepped up and hit a low shot inside Gianluigi Buffon’s left post as the Italian goalkeeper dove right. The goal by Donovan was the 40th of his career, and he has now scored from the penalty spot in three consecutive matches.
A blast from outside the area by Michael Bradley was saved by Buffon in the 42nd minute, and the U.S. went into halftime holding a 1-0 lead.
Following a relatively stagnant start to the second half, Italy head coach Marcello Lippi went to his bench with two changes in the 58th minute, with Giuseppe Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo coming on in favor of Gennaro Gattuso and Camoranesi.
Italy equalized in the 59th minute, as Rossi stripped Feilhaber on the edge of the center circle, dribbled straight toward goal and with this final touch blasted a laser that beat Howard inside the left post.
As the game wen on, Italy increasingly began playing downhill as the U.S. tired. In the 68th minute, Pirlo hit a knuckling shot from outside the area that Howard punched out only to see Vincenzo Iaquinta hammer the rebound just wide from 12 yards out in traffic.
Four minutes later, the game-winner would come as Daniele de Rossi, best known by U.S. fans for his gruesome red-card elbow on Brian McBride at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, hit a low drive that beat a screened Howard to the right post from 25 yards
With 10 minutes to go and down a goal, the U.S. found the energy to push forward, starting with a Dempsey shot from distance that forced Buffon to make a save. One minute later, Donovan was toppled by Legrottaglie fighting for a ball in the air but Chilean referee Pablo Pozo was reluctant to award the U.S. a second penalty kick.
The final chance for the U.S. came in the 88th minute, as Sacha Kljestan – who came on in the 86th-minute for Bornstein – struck a dipping shot from 21 yards out that stayed above the crossbar.
In stoppage time, Italy took advantage of tired U.S. legs to build a two-goal advantage that put them ahead of Brazil on goal difference. Pirlo kept the ball in bounds and rounded Jay DeMerit. With several options to pass in the penalty area, Pirlo waited as Rossi made a curving run toward the penalty spot, where he crushed a perfectly weighted cross into the back of the net uncontested.
For the U.S., 11 players made their FIFA Confederations Cup debut including nine of the 11 starters. Only Howard, Donovan and Beasley had previous experience, playing in the 2003 edition of the event.
Up next is Brazil, who the U.S. has only beaten once in 13 all-time meetings with a 1-12-0 record, that includes two losses to the five-time World Champions in the FIFA Confederations Cup. Before Group B returns to action, Group A returns to play on Wednesday, June 17, with group-leaders Spain facing Iraq and South Africa hosting New Zealand.
U.S. Men's National Team Match Report
Match: United States vs. Italy
Date: June 15, 2009
Competition: 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium; Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. local (2:30 p.m. ET)
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 65 degrees
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
ITA 0 3 3
USA – Landon Donovan (penalty kick) 41st minute
ITA – Giuseppe Rossi 58
ITA – Daniele De Rossi (Giorgio Chiellini) 72
ITA – Giuseppe Rossi (Andrea Pirlo) 94+
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 21-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 15-Jay DeMerit, 2-Jonathan Bornstein (16-Sacha Kljestan, 86); 22-Benny Feilhaber (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 72), 13 -Ricardo Clark, 12-Michael Bradley, 8-Clint Dempsey; 10-Landon Donovan, 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Charlie Davies, 66)
Subs not used: 3-Carlos Bocanegra, 4-Conor Casey, 6-Heath Pearce, 11-Marvell Wynne, 14-Danny Califf, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Freddy Adu, 20-Jose Francisco Torres, 23-Luis Robles
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
ITA: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 4-Girogio Chiellini, 6-Nicola Legrottaglie, 3-Fabio Grosso; 8-Gennaro Gattuso (17-Giuseppe Rossi, 57), 10-Daniele De Rossi, 21-Andrea Pirlo; 15-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 11-Alberto Gilardino (9-Luca Toni, 69), 16-Mauro Camoranesi (20-Riccardo Montolivo, 57)
Subs not used: 2-Davide Santon, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 7-Simone Pepe, 12-Morgan De Sanctis, 13-Alessandro Gamberini, 14-Marco Amelia, 18-Angelo Palombo, 22-Andrea Dossena, 23-Fabio Quagliarella
Head Coach: Marcello Lippi
USA / ITA
Shots: 7 / 21
Shots on Goal: 4 / 13
Saves: 10 / 3
Corner Kicks: 1 / 10
Fouls: 14 / 16
Offside: 1 / 3
ITA – Nicola Legrottaglie (caution) 11th minute
USA – Jonathan Bornstein (caution) 20
USA – Ricardo Clark (sent off) 33
ITA – Fabian Grosso (caution) 35
Referee: Pablo Pozo (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Patricio Basualto (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Francisco Mondria (CHI)
Fourth Official: Eddy Maillet (SEY)
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