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U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

February 29, 2012
A GIANT LEAP
Dempsey lifts U.S. to a 1-0 victory, its first win over Italy


Clint Dempsey scored in the 55th minute to give the U.S. men their first-ever win over Italy.
Clint Dempsey scored in the 55th minute to give the U.S. men their first-ever win over Italy.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
GENOA, Italy — The United States men stunned Italy, defeating the four-time world champions for the first time, recording a 1-0 victory on Wednesday.

Clint Dempsey's 55th-minute goal helped the U.S. snap a 10-game winless streak to the Italians over 78 years. The Americans entered the match 0-7-3 against Italy and had been outscored 32-4.

The triumph extended the U.S. winning streak under Jurgen Klinsmann to four games and raised his record to 5-4-1 since taking over for Bob Bradley last summer.

“It’s historic for us beating a team of Italy’s level and it’s a very good win,” Klinsmann told reporters. “But what we wanted to do above everything was to learn, to see how we could do against a team like Italy. I think the boys did very, very well, they played great for 90 minutes. And moreover we have young players and they’re growing and it’s from games like this that they do.”

The Americans played without one of their key players, Landon Donovan, who remained home battling bronchitis with the Major League Soccer season set to start a week from Saturday.

That certainly helped make the win feel even sweeter, with the U.S. playing without one of its best players.

“It’s just a confidence builder," Dempsey said. "We’re just trying to move in the right direction and trying to get as sharp as we can for the summer and the World Cup qualifying games because the goal is to qualify for the World Cup. It’s important to come to places like this and play big teams on their own soil and get results. At times it wasn’t pretty but we grounded out the result tonight.

"It was a little bit of a workout tonight but we got the result.”

The U.S. took a major step toward its goal of getting results against the world's elite sides.

“It’s a work in progress," he said. "We try to get there. For good spells, we were under it today, having to defend a lot, especially in the second half. When we got the ball, we did show quality. I think we just need to do a better job of being on the front foot, keeping the ball, playing with confidence. The more chances we create, the more goals we’re going to get. I like to think that we’re closing the gap and hopefully one day we can do something special.”

Dempsey scored the lone goal of the match in the 55th minute past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. He became just the fourth American to score against Italy, joining Buff Donelli (1934), John Harkes (1992) and Donovan (2009). The U.S. had an own goal during the 2006 World Cup in Italy, which was a 1-1 draw.

Dempsey also moved past Joe-Max Moore into fourth place on the U.S. all-time scoring list with 25 goals.

Striker Jozy Altidore set up Dempsey’s goal. He got possession of the ball in the penalty area, held it up and flicked a short pass to Dempsey at the top of the box. The Fulham striker then fired a shot through two defenders and into the net.

“Initially, I was going to stay where I was and have him lay it back to me,” Dempsey said. “I saw the guy was covering. So I tried to move to my right to try get open so he could play me the ball. He did a great job of holding it up, playing me, and I just tried to hit it low and hard, far post, and it went in.”

Goalkeeper Tim Howard was at the peak of his game, catching or blocking everything the Italians threw, or more appropriately, kicked his way before the 23,000 spectactors, which included former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and U.S. international forward Brian McBride.

   
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