KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (June 17, 2006) – In one of the all-time great performances in U.S. Soccer history, the U.S. played with nine men for 43 minutes to tie Italy, 1-1, in their second match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup with a gutsy performance and spectacular saves from Kasey Keller.
The surest chance that the U.S. has to advance is with a victory vs. Ghana on June 22 combined with an Italy victory over the Czech Republic. There are numerous scenarios in which the U.S. could advance if they win and Czech Republic gets a win or tie, but they require the U.S. improving their goal differential. [Standings]
“We thought from the beginning, we told our team, that this group would go down to the last day," U.S. Manager Bruce Arena said. "Our challenge is to try to get four points and see where that takes us. I thought our effort today was fantastic. I’m proud of the way my team kept their composure and got the one point.
"I thought we were the better team on the night. We had a fantastic first half and certainly to get two red cards within a span of, probably, five minutes was very difficult. Not many teams would hold their composure. I thought we did a great job there and I’m really proud of the team. That’s the kind of team the U.S. should be putting on the field and the kind of effort we should have.”
Both Group E finales will be played on Thursday, June 22 with 4 p.m. local time kickoffs (10 a.m. ET).
Italy struck first in the 22nd minute after Pablo Mastroeni fouled Francesco Totti about 30 yards from goal. Andrea Pirlo served an in-swinger into the box that Alberto Gilardino headed home. Eddie Pope, Gilardino’s marker, stopped following his run immediately and raised his arm calling for offside, but several U.S. players kept the goal scorer in legal position.
The U.S. equalized in the 27th minute when a Bobby Convey free kick from the right sideline was awkwardly touched by Zaccardo at the back post and went in for an own goal. The play was set up as Claudio Reyna made something out of nothing. The U.S. captain won a free kick on the right side, getting fouled after a slow dribbling run up the right wing had him forward with little help.
One minute later, the U.S. found itself with a man advantage as Daniele de Rossi was shown a red card after elbowing Brian McBride in the face. McBride left the game briefly with a cut under his left eye, but did return.
In the 35th minute, Italy made its first change of the match, bringing on Gennaro Gattuso for Totti to bolster a shorthanded defense.
Just before halftime, the field was leveled to 10 players per team when Mastroeni saw a red card after a two-footed challenge directly to the ankle of Andrea Pirlo.
Things could not have started worse for the U.S. in the second half, as Pope was shown his second yellow card in the 47th minute for a challenge from behind on Gilardino.
It looked for a moment like the U.S. stunned Italy with a 65th minute goal by second-half substitution DaMarcus Beasley, but McBride was flagged for screening the goalkeeper while in an offside position.
In the 73rd minute, Keller kept the U.S. alive with one of his trademark saves, sprawling to his right to deny a flick-on after a chip found Alessandro del Piero behind the U.S. backline. He would again make a big save in the 79th minute, punching out a long range attempt from del Piero.
The Italians continued their push for the go-ahead goal in the game's dying moments, but the U.S. held the fort despite several sets of tired legs.
"I can’t say enough about the guys in front of me," said Keller, who was named Sierra Mist Man of the Match. "They’re dead (tired) out there, they’ve given everything. It would have been a shame to concede a goal late but we stuck in this thing. We’re in this tournament, and we have a good chance now. Of course we wanted three points but the point in these circumstances is phenomenal.”
Both Mastroeni and Pope will be out for the U.S. Group E finale on Thursday due to their red cards … Three players made their FIFA World Cup debuts for the U.S., with Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey in the starting line-up, while Jimmy Conrad came on as a second-half substitution … The U.S. is now 0-3-3 vs. Italy all time, including 0-2-1 in World Cup play … The U.S. has an overall 6-15-3 record in the World Cup, including 2-3-2 under Arena
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Italy
Date: June 17, 2006
Competition: 2006 FIFA World Cup – Group E
Venue: Fritz-Walter Stadion; Kaiserslautern, Germany
Kickoff: 9 p.m.
Weather: 70 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
Italy 1 0 1
ITA – Alberto Giardino (Andrea Pirlo) 22nd minute.
USA – Own Goal (Christian Zaccardo) 27.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 8-Clint Dempsey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 62), 10-Claudio Reyna (capt), 15-Bobby Convey (13-Jimmy Conrad, 52), 21-Landon Donovan; 20-Brian McBride
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 19-Marcus Hahnemann, 2-Chris Albright, 5-John O’Brien, 7-Eddie Lewis, 9-Eddie Johnson, 11-Brian Ching, 12-Gregg Berhalter, 14-Ben Olsen, 16-Josh Wolff,
Manager: Bruce Arena
ITA: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 2-Cristian Zaccardo (7-Alessandro del Piero, 54), 5-Fabio Cannavaro (capt), 13-Alessandro Nesta, 19-Gianluca Zambrotto; 4-Daniele de Rossi, 20-Simone Perrotta, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 10-Francesco Totti (8-Gennaro Gattuso, 35); 11-Alberto Gilardino, 9-Luca Toni (15-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 61),
Subs not used: 12-Angelo Peruzzi, 14-Marco Amelia, 3-Fabio Grosso, 6-Andrea Barzagli, 16-Mauro Camoranesi, 17-Simone Barone, 18-Filippo Inzaghi, 22-Massimo Oddo, 23-Marco Materazzi
Head Coach: Marcello Lippi
Stats Summary: USA ITA
Shots 10 8
Saves 2 0
Corner Kicks 3 7
Fouls 13 24
Offside 1 11
ITA – Francesco Totti (caution) 5th minute
USA – Eddie Pope (caution) 21.
ITA – Daniele De Rossi (ejection) 28.
USA – Pablo Mastroneni (ejection) 45.
USA – Pope (caution) 47.
USA – Pope (ejection) 47.
ITA – Gianluca Zambrotto (caution) 70.
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (URU)
1st Asst.: Walter Rial (URU)
2nd Asst.: Pablo Fandino (URU)
Fourth Official: Khalil Al Ghamdi (KSA)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Kasey Keller
USA 0, Czech Republic 3
Italy 2, Ghana 0
Italy 1, USA 1
Czech Republic 0, Ghana 2
Czech Republic vs. Italy 4 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Ghana vs. USA 4 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET