Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Texas Beats Italy 1-0: The United States Finally Beats Italy on Italian Soil

It might have only been a international friendly in a non-World Cup finals year, but history was made today at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris in Genova where the United States beat Italy 1-0 thanks to a Clint Dempsey goal in the 55th minute. While the United States has played the four time World Cup champion Italy on several occasions, including in the World Cup finals, this marks the first time that the US has beaten the Italians. Not only did the US beat Italy, but they beat them on Italian soil.

Today's victory marks the 4th straight victory in the J├╝rgen Klinsmann era of US Soccer. Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach in September of 2011, following the US's failure to win the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. After losing four of his first five matches, signs of US fans losing their patience with Klinsmann were evident. With these recent victories, Klinsmann may not have won over all US fans yet, but he's pretty much secured the position for the rest of the 2014 World Cup finals cycle.

While one of the biggest differences between Klinsmann and Bradley appears to be Klinsmann's focus on bolstering the US's attacking creativity, the fact that the last three victories were clean sheets evidences a quiet revolution in the US's defense, an area that was always suspect during the Bradley era. One of the biggest defensive highlights today was the play of second half sub Jonathan Spector who proved crucial in keeping Italy off the scoreboard.

The US schedule is quiet until May, when it will host friendlies against Scotland, in Jacksonville on May 26th; Brazil, in Washington, D.C. on May 30th. The US will play Canada in friendly in Toronto on June 3rd and then begins World Cup Qualifying with matches against Antigua and Barbuda, on June 8th in Tampa, and Guatemala, on June 12th in Guatemala.

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