GENK, Belgium (Nov. 20, 2018) — Fielding the youngest lineup in the team’s modern era, the U.S. Men’s National Team battled hard, but a strike from Matteo Politano deep in second-half stoppage time saw the U.S. fall 1-0 to Italy at Luminus Arena in Genk, Belgium.
Having previously started the two youngest MNT lineups earlier this year, head coach Dave Sarachan deployed a starting XI with an average age of 22 years, 71 days. He also made history by selecting the youngest captain in modern era (1990-present), handing 20-year-old Christian Pulisic the armband for the very first time.
But while the USA showed some positive moments, the young side ceded much of the possession to Italy during the first half. In control through much of the match, the Azzurri took multiple looks at the U.S. goal, but was thwarted time and again thanks to a heroic effort from goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
Taking the field in Belgium where he suits up for Club Brugge, the 23-year-old Horvath was called into action in the third minute, turning away a point-blank attempt from Federico Chiesa. He followed it up with another brave stop on Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci in the 18th minute, pushed a belted effort from Domenico Berardi over the bar in the 39thand parried a free kick from Marco Verratti in the 44th to keep thing scoreless at the break.
Horvath was again called into action just before the hour-mark but did brilliantly to thwart a one-on-one attempt from Kevin Lasagna in the 59th minute.
Gaining confidence to push forward, the USA nearly pulled ahead in the 64th minute as Kellyn Acosta’s free kick from the right picked out Walker Zimmerman at the back post, but his headed effort was pushed out for a corner kick by Salvatore Sirigu. Just as that chance came, Horvath was called on again to make perhaps his best save of the night, stretching full out to push Vincenzo Grifo’s effort out for a corner kick in the 70th minute.
Becoming the 20th player to debut for the MNT in 2018, substitute Romain Gall tested Sirigu in the 90th minute, unleashing a low blast that forced the Italy ‘keeper to push the ball out for a corner kick.
Just as it looked like the USA would earn a hard-nosed draw, Italy broke through when Roberto Giagliardini combined with Politano in the box. With the defense collapsing around him, the substitute poked his effort past Horvath to give Italy the 1-0 victory in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time.
Up Next: Earlier Tuesday, the MNT announced it would play regional foe Costa Rica on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. The match will serve as one of two domestic matches to begin 2019. Kickoff time and the MNT’s further schedule for next year will be announced at a later date.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
ITA – Matteo Politano (Roberto Gagliardini), 90+4th minute: The USA looked like it would take a 0-0 draw home, but Italy continued to press and broke through as Gagliardini fed Politano into the box where he finished past Horvath from close range. ITA 1, USA 0 FINAL.
Key Save and Defensive Plays:
USA – Ethan Horvath, 3rd minute: Federico Chiesa ran onto a long ball over the top and strolled into the box on the right. Taking an additional touch, the Italy striker was thwarted as Horvath came off his line to make a save with his right.
USA – Cameron Carter-Vickers, 16th minute: Streaking into the box on the left, Domenico Berardi did well to get into the box and looked to get a shot off before Carter-Vickers came through to deny the attempt and put it out for a corner kick.
USA – Ethan Horvath, 18th minute: Italy gained another dangerous opportunity as Emerson was fouled about 30 yards from goal on the left. Stefano Sensi swung in a free kick, finding Leonardo Bonucci alone in the area, but his shot from the penalty spot was thwarted as Horvath came off his line to make a point-blank save.
USA - Ethan Horvath, 39th minute: After Italy moved the ball around outside the area, Berardi took it on his left foot and unleashed a swerving effort that Horvath pushed over the bar for a corner kick.
USA – Ethan Horvath, 44th minute: Reggie Cannon upended Emerson and Italy earned another dangerous opportunity to the left of the USA goal. Marco Verratti swung in a low ball that threaded through the USA penalty box, but Horvath’s foot work was superb and kept the ball off the goal line before it was cleared.
USA – Ethan Horvath, 59th minute: While the USA showed more in the attacking third early in the second half, it still allowed Italy openings on the counter attack. The Azzurri caught the MNT out just before the hour mark when Kevin Lasagna got on the end of a ball and leapt past Walker Zimmerman only to see Horvath powerfully charge off his line to deny the attempt.
ITA – Salvatore Sirigu, 64th minute: The USA nearly pulled ahead just after the hour mark. Kellyn Acosta’s free kick from the right swung through to the back post where Walker Zimmerman’s snap header was kept out when Sirigu dramatically pushed the ball over the bar for a corner kick.
USA – Ethan Horvath, 70th minute: Stefano Sensi played a square pass to Vincenco Grifo who let rip an effort destined for the top right corner, but Horvath used all of his 6-4 frame to stretch at full extension and push the ball out for a corner kick.
ITA – Salvatore Sirigu, 90th minute: The USA found one final chance, as substitute Romain Gall pushed forward through the midfield. Taking the space given to him, Gall let loose on a low blast that Sirigu dove to his left to push out for a corner kick.
- Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath made five saves to earn Budweiser Man of the Match honors.
- With nine of 11 starters 23 years old or younger, the average age of the USA XI came in at 22 years, 71 days, besting the MNT’s previous modern era-record of 22 years, 160 days which came on May 28, 2018 vs. Bolivia.
- Five of 11 starters were also age-eligible for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Tyler Adams, Reggie Cannon, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent
- At 20 years, 71 days, Christian Pulisic became the youngest MNT captain of the modern era (1990-present), beating Landon Donovan who first captained the MNT at 22 years, 220 days in a World Cup Qualifier on Oct. 9, 2004 at El Salvador.
- Entering the match in the 83rd minute, Romain Gall became the 20th player to debut for the MNT in 2018 and 23rd overall under head coach Dave Sarachan. The 20 debuts in 2018 ties 2007 for the second most in the MNT’s modern era history, sitting just one back of the record of 21 in 1992.
- The MNT moves to 1-8-3 all-time against Italy.
- With the MNT dressing 20 players, John Brooks, Jonathan Klinsmann and DeAndre Yedlin were healthy scratches from tonight’s match.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Italy
Date: November 20, 2018
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Luminus Arena; Genk, Belgium
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (9 p.m. local time)
Weather: 38 degrees; mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
ITA ```0 1 1
ITA – Matteo Politano (Roberto Gagliardini) 90+4 minute
USA: 12-Ethan Horvath; 5-Cameron Carter Vickers, 21-Walker Zimmerman, 26-Aaron Long; 25-Reggie Cannon (19-Jorge Villafaña, 75), 9-Marky Delgado (20-Wil Trapp, 62), 4-Tyler Adams, 23-Kellyn Acosta (14-Sebastian Lletget, 83), 18-Shaq Moore (7-Bobby Wood, 62); 10-Christian Pulisic (capt.) (27-Romain Gall, 83), 13-Josh Sargent
Substitutes not used: 1-Brad Guzan; 3-Matt Miazga, 11-Tim Weah, 16-Julian Green
Head Coach: Dave Sarachan
ITA: 1-Salvatore Sirigu; 2-Mattia De Sciglio, 19-Leonardo Bonucci (capt.), 13-Francesco Acerbi, 21-Emerson; 18-Nicolo Barella (5-Roberto Gagliardini, 76), 23-Stefano Sensi, 6-Marco Verratti; 14-Federico Chiesa (10-Vincenzo Grifo, 46), 9-Kevin Lasagna (20-Matteo Politano, 87), 11-Domenico Berardi (17-Moise Kean, 62)
Substitutes not used: 12-Alessio Cragno, 8-Leonardo Pavoletti, 3-Gianluca Mancini, 22-Gianluigi Donnarumma, 4-Cristiano Biraghi, 16-Sandro Tonali, 15-Daniele Rugani
Head coach: Roberto Mancini
Stats Summary: USA / ITA
Shots: 3 / 17
Shots on Goal: 1 / 6
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 20 / 17
Offside: 1 / 2
ITA – Mattia De Sciglio (caution) 19th minute
USA – Reggie Cannon (caution) 43
USA – Shaq Moore (caution) 43
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution) 45+1
ITA – Stefano Sensi (caution) 58
Referee: Cüneyt ÇAKIR (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin DURAN (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik ONGUN (TUR)
4th Official: Alper ULUSOY (TUR)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Ethan Horvath