Wednesday was a great day for international soccer action, even if none of it officially meant anything. With a FIFA International date on the calendar, some of the top national sides in the world squared off, including the United States Men's National Team facing Italy in Genoa.
If you were to put together a cursory list of things you'd like to see leading up to a USMNT win, they would likely include a goal by Clint Dempsey and a clean sheet for Tim Howard. There was plenty more to the action here, but those two did come to fruition, leading to a big 1-0 win. In 10 matches over a 78-year period, the US had never previously beaten Italy. Regardless of the setting, it was a meaningful win.
Below, a look at Dempsey's strike, plus full highlights from the match.
Things looked a bit sketchy for the US early on, as Italy generated too many opportunities for comfort. But they weathered it, and a scoreless first half was something of a win for the visitors. Ten minutes into the second half, a countering opportunity gave the US as much lead as they'd prove to need. The goal that meant the difference was the result of a fine cross by
Fabian Johnson, which was corralled by Jozy Altidore and calmly set in
place for the most dangerous American in the sport.
The latter portion of the second half was nerve-wracking to say the least, with Italy controlling possession and firing what they could toward Howard. USA's defense withstood the barrage though, containing the attack until the final whistle. In all, the defensive efforts to stifle the playmaking of Andrea Pirlo were impressive. The amount of blocked shots was increasingly amazing, and Timmy had to be happy with the effort in front of him in the second half in particular.
Friendlies like this may not continue on in the years ahead, as the power clubs are rarely thrilled with being forced to share the players they've invested heavily mostly for the purposes of exhibition. But from a non-stakeholding viewer's standpoint, it's a pretty exciting day, and certainly a prideful one for the Americans.
Below, full highlights via USMNT:
And to top it off, the US U-23 team beat Mexico last night in Dallas. Watch to see which Union player gets an assist at the 2:13 of this set of highlights...