US claims historic win over Italy on Clint Dempsey goal

Published Wednesday, February 29, 2012 5:49 AM by Shane Barrow

It was just a friendly, but it was far from that for the Americans.  This was a true test.  The powerful Italians on their home soil.  A team the United States has never beaten in ten previous matches.  The players new a heavy focus would be required to survive the talented Azzurri.

Italy started on the front foot and in the 5th minute Tim Howard was forced to make a good kick save from a close range Thiago Motta shot.  The Americans calmed the game well with a long bout of possession that resulted in a corner kick.  A good counter in the 10th minute led to a Brek Shea shot that whizzed wide.

On the other end, the Italians were going in behind the US defense almost at will.  Perfectly placed long balls were picking the back four apart as Giovinco was buzzing.  As the half wore on the Americans got more organized and were catching the Italians offside.

A quick counter led to a US freekick from 25 yards out in the 38th minute.  Clint Dempsey rifled the shot on goal but Buffon parried it away.  The half ended scoreless and the US had to feel good about their effort.  It would remain to be seen if they could hold up in the second half.

It was a frustrating start to the second half for Italy as they were caught offside 3 times in the opening 5 minutes.  The Americans looked a little slow and were not pressuring the ball enough.  The result was almost no possession for the US.  No way they could make another 45 minutes like this.  Then seemingly out of nowhere the shock goal came.

A great ball from Michael Bradley released Fabian Johnson down the left side.  Johnson delivered a perfect cross to Jozy Altidore who collected the ball and laid it off for Clint Dempsey who stroked a low shot past Buffon and into the net.  1-0 USA.

82 years.  11 matches.  Was this to be the first American win against the powerful Italy?  Thirty minutes to go.  

Almost immediately Tim Howard was called into action as Pazzini ripped a shot that Howard handled.  The US did a nice job of slowing the match down now that they had the lead.  They took a few throw in slowly and allowed a bit of the air out of the game.  Twenty minutes to go.

Italy ramped up the pressure from there as they pushed for the tying goal.  The Americans were at action stations as they had to defend three corners.  Abbate got in behind but Bocanegra turned his cross out for another corner.  The crosses were coming in bunches and the American backline were standing strong. Spector, Bocanegra and Goodson were up to the task.

Four minutes of stoppage time.  Could they make it?  Hearts stopped as Montolivo whizzed a shot just wide.  The final whistle and the USA had a historic victory over Italy.