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June 15, 2009
Shorthanded U.S. takes 1-0 lead before losing to Italy in Confederations Cup

By Michael Lewis Editor

Landon Donovan scored the lone U.S. goal.
Landon Donovan scored the lone U.S. goal.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
PRETORIA, South Africa -- Italy's 3-1 comeback win over the U.S. in Monday's FIFA Confederations Cup opener just dripped with poetic justice.

The Italians overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to the United States on two goals by a former Clifton, N.J. resident who turned down an opportunity to play with the U.S. National Team and another who had been red-carded in a World Cup match in 2006.

Second-half sub Giuseppe Rossi, the former Jersey resident, came off the bench to equalize in the 59th minute, and added an insurance goal from 12 yards in stoppage time.

Midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who was dismissed in '06 for elbowing Brian McBride in the face, fired home a spectacular 30-yard rocket to give the Italians the lead in the 72nd minute, dashing the Americans' upset hopes at Loftus Versfield Stadium.

The U.S. has never beaten Italy in seven attempts (0-4-3) over 75 years.

The loss will make the Americans' hopes of reaching the semifinals of this tournament, a dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup, a longshot.

The Americans were forced to play the final 57 minutes a minute down after Ricardo Clark's red card in the 33rd minute.

Landon Donovan's penalty kick in the 41st minute lifted the Americans into the lead, eight minutes after former MetroStars midfielder Clark was given his marching orders for a hard tackle at midfield.

Donovan's goal was set up when former Red Bulls striker Jozy Altidore was taken down in the penalty area by Giorgio Chiellini. Up stepped Donovan, who placed a low shot into the right corner as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon dived the other way.

Only a minute prior to the penalty, the Americans dodged a bullet when a through ball for Italian midfielder Mauro Camoranesi was knocked into the net by defender Jonathan Bornstein for an own goal. However, the goal was called back because Camoranesi was offside by perhaps a half step.

Clark saw red in the 33rd minute after he took down Gennaro Gattuso. After referee Pablo Pozo (Chile) showed him the red card, the midfielder looked stunned, obviously expecting a yellow.

Only minutes after coming on for Gattuso, Rossi equalized for the Italians with a rousing goal in the 59th minute. Rossi stripped Clint Dempsey of the ball at midfield, took a couple of steps and fired a 25-yard rocket past goalkeeper Tim Howard into the lower left corner of the net.

The goal seemed to energize the Italians, who attacked freely. The U.S. seemed to have the wind knocked out of its sails. The Italians were rewarded in the 72nd minute. This time it was De Rossi, who powered another long-range blast, from 30-yards, past Howard. The ball took one bounce, but U.S. central defender Oguchi Onyewu missed on an attempt to kick the ball away.

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