U.S. Men's National Team

Italy 3, USA 1: A Look Back

OnyewuGilardino (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                   Photo by ISIphotos.com

It is a loss that will take U.S. fans some time to get over, if they ever do, but the U.S. national team's 3-1 loss to Italy on Monday had its bright spots and promising developments to go along with the mind-numbing and spirit-crushing moments.

Losing to Italy in a game the Americans were winning is one thing, losing to a questionable red card and to a brace scored by an American-born (and raised) player is something altogether different. We can talk about Giuseppe Rossi later in the day. Right now, it is time to focus on the American players who actually play for their country, as well as the developments in the match that led to the 3-1 result.

We can start with the U.S. team's player grades. Yes, it was a loss, but playing against a team like Italy a man down for nearly two-thirds of a match is a circumstance that cannot be ignored when looking at the performance by the Americans.

Here are the grades:

Tim Howard (7). Made a handful of clutch saves that kept U.S. team within striking distance even as Italy attacked in waves. Can't be blamed for second goal, with multiple defenders screening him on well-struck blast from DeRossi.

Oguchi Onyewu (7). Was a rock in the back, rendering Gilardino invisible and reducing Italy to short corners on all corner kicks. Could have done better on Italy's second goal, but overall this was one of Onyewu's most impressive performances. 

Jay DeMerit (6). Looked tough, confident and sharp when the match was still 11v11, and held his own for a good while before playing parts in first and third Italy goals. Overall, he still looked like the third best centerback in the U.S. pool.

Jonathan Spector (7.5). Most impressive overall performance. He kept Fabio Grosso and Vinceno Iaquinta honest on the right flank, limiting the service and staying in good position throughout. The right back job is his for the foreseeable future. 

Jonathan Bornstein (6). Not sure what all the criticism toward Bornstein is about. Yes, he had some nervy moments, but Bornstein stood toe-to-toe with Mauro Camoranesi, who had no impact on the match and was Italy's first sub. Zambrotta didn't do anything on that flank either. Perhaps the waived-off own goal is skewing some opinions of his performance, but I think he did well enough to keep his hold on the left back spot.

Michael Bradley (7). Was a real force in the first half, making countless key tackles, neutralizing the masterful Andrea Pirlo and picking up the load in midfield after Clark's red card. He needed to finish his golden chance in the first half, but still delivered a memorable performance.

Benny Feilhaber (5). Hit on a few long passes, including the one that led to the USA penalty, but his work in central midfield was lacking and he bore little resemblance to the player who impressed vs. Honduras. Looked awful in giving up possession on Rossi's first goal (though Dempsey put him in a tough spot).

Ricardo Clark (4). Looked good before the red card, which was very harsh, but ultimately he was still the one who went in late on a challenge. Consider it a lesson learned (hopefully).

Clint Dempsey (5). Will Dempsey ever step up and be a serious threat for the national team again? He had some brief glimpses on the ball, but was largely irrelevant. His lazy pass to Feilhaber helped cause Rossi's first goal.

Landon Donovan (7). For the second time in his career, Donovan stepped up his play against Italy with his team a man down. He tried to impose his will on the match, but never could crack Italy's tough defense (though on a different day he might have had two assists on his beautiful passes to Bradley and Altidore). Probably deserved to draw a penalty when he was fouled and did well to convert the penalty. Almost gave him a 7.5 but he continues to disappoint with his poor set-piece delivery.

Jozy Altidore (7). He never put a shot on goal, but was a handful for Italy all day long. Played with confidence and desire and caused fits for Giorgio Chiellini, one of the best young defenders in the world. He scuffed a great first-half chance (he should have taken a shot on goal rather than trying to pass from close range), but he has improved in each of the past two U.S. games and looks to be back on track in his development (assuming he winds up somewhere in the fall where he will actually get games).

DaMarcus Beasley (5). Held his own in a late sub role. After his past two shockers, Beasley helped restore some (though not all) of the confidence U.S. fans lost in him recently.

Charlie Davies (5). Provided his usual late-game energy, and found a great late chance, but mis-timed an open header. He's someone who needs to get more minutes at some point this summer.

Sacha Kljestan (5). Looked like he would hit one of his trademark top-corner goals, but missed by a few feet. Could be ready to re-gain a starting role during this tournament.

Bob Bradley (5). Fielded a strong starting lineup, but needed to bring in fresh legs sooner, especially when Italy brought in its own in Rossi and Montolivo.


Most disappointing develpments from the match? Dempsey continuing to fail to have the impact you would expect from an EPL standout is one, as was Feilhaber's overall performance. Yes, Feilhaber started out on the right flank, which doesn't really suit his strengths, but he spent most of his time in a central role after Clark's ejection and still struggled to maintain possession.

Clark's ejection exposed a weak spot in the U.S. roster, the lack of defensive midfield options. Maurice Edu's absence due to injury, and Pablo Mastroeni's exclusion from this roster, left Bob Bradley with no good options after Clark's red card. Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Jose Francisco Torres and Freddy Adu are all more offensive-minded, leaving Bradley in a bind when he could have used a defensive presence in the middle of the park.

What changes should we expect vs. Brazil? I have a feeling we will see Kljestan start in place of Clark, though I would like to see Jose Francisco Torres to get the nod. If Carlos Bocanegra is healthy he will slide back into the lineup, but you wonder whether Bob Bradley will take a look at Bocanegra at left back in this tournament. He isn't generally used there because he's always been needed in central defense (and because he offers little on the offensive end) but DeMerit's solid play coupled with Brazil's various attacking weapons might lead Bradley to consider a Bocanegra-Onyewu-DeMerit-Spector back-line.


What did you think of the U.S. team's performance, and the performances of its players?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Luke in NC

    I am not a fan of Kljestan as a central-mid starter at this point. He is a big card-liability.

    Hope he proves me wrong if he gets his chance, though.


  • AddisonJim

    After watching the MNT for the past few months I’m lost as to what Altidore adds to the team. Is ther something wrong with his legs? Does he ever run? I only see him walk or jog. He gives up the ball easily. He needs to watch some film of Brian McBride.


  • Ranger

    Fact is Adu was the perfect counter-sub at the 65th minute for ball possesion, taking players on and creating chances………NOT Beasley………….

    If you cant see that BB messed up that one then your a tool.


  • chuck

    I’d support the Bocanegra-Onyewu-DeMerit-Spector back-line. That is worth seeing.

    Is Torres being punished? Is BB just too in love with his son at the attacking midfield spot (not without merit, mind you)? How are we, USA, overloaded at that position? I never thought I’d live to see the day. If that is the case, we should be playing a 5-man midfield, with Torres (whom I rate much higher than Adu), MB and X (the missing, hard-nosed defensive midfielder, Jermaine maybe?), with a couple of wingers.

    We can’t finish anyway, so why have more Altidore up top?


  • HokieFutbol

    So I fully expect to get made fun of for this comment, but it is something USMNT HAVE to look at. If Klejstan is on the field, he should be the one taking set pieces close to goal. I don’t think Donovan has put one on frame in the last 3 international games. If you remember Sweden, Klejstan scored upper 90 from a set piece around 30 yards. This kid may not offer much but you can’t argue with his ability to shoot accurately and with pace from distance. This is something that either no one else is able to do effectively or they just don’t do it. I loved Donovan yesterday in his set piece service (Davies should have scored) and run of play (Bradley and Altidore should have scored as well), but he should not be the one taking shots from set pieces.


  • Adam

    How does Bob get a 5? He loses a defensive midfielder and his first sub is striker for striker? He knew he was playing Italy, Brazil and Egypt. All good teams. All teams he would need a defensive mid against. We get one on the roster. Injuries and red cards happen. You have to adjust. Bob didn’t before the tournament, and he didn’t in this game.


  • Areign

    “Nearly the entire team gets above average grades for a 3-1 loss? What a joke.

    Posted by: AS | June 16, 2009 at 10:13 AM”

    we were dominating while a man down and it wasnt until the 11 man italy ran us ragged that we started to tire and dropped 2 goals because we didnt close down the shot quick enough.


  • EA

    I actually thought the team played VERY well considering the circumstances.

    All 3 goals came as a result of too much space in the midfield. Almost as if one of the midfielders wasn’t there.

    Because he wasn’t.

    We took the game to the Italians for stretches, and when Clark was sent off, we were really beginning to look strong.

    In spite of being a man down… with just a LITTLE bit of help from an official (the youngest in the tournament, BTW, who missed calls all over the field, all day long…) when Donovan got plowed in the area, we salvage a draw.

    In spite of being a man down, with halfway decent finishing from Jozy, Bradley and Davies, we beat Italy like a drum.

    I hope that our boys look at that, pick thier heads up, and play with some fire in the next two games.

    They earned it.


  • Nelson Mandela

    Well said, TheseColorsDoNotRun…

    BB’s in game tactics are horrible, and have been horrible. Not just this game. We are able to get away with it when we play the likes of T&T, El Sal (at home), Hond.(at home), Grenada, and all those other islands. When we play powerful Euro or S.American teams we are exposed for our tactical ineptitude. This goes back to the Sampson, Arena days. We, not only need someone with the skills to put together a good gameplan (CR on the road=crap gameplan) but a tactician who can evolve and make good decisions/changes as the game changes. Sampson was just too dumb, Arena has too much of an ego to think he planned the wrong tactics and Bradley is a hybrid of both.


  • HokieFutbol

    EA I agree 100%. We have been complaining about even a lack of chances in the run of play and could have beaten Italy with 10 men if we FINISHED OUR CHANCES(although the Altidore and Bradley chances were before Clark was sent off I believe).


  • John

    Hey Turtle, do you really not know that you’re SUPPOSED to put a “D” at the end of SUPPOSE?


  • Misfit

    Eh… not a good result. I knew Italy was gonna dismantle the US pretty bad… I watch all of italy’s games and the US as well, and I thot that the Usa had a great chance of an upset right before the “Red Card”. Don’t know what the discussion was at halftime in the locker room but it seemed like the US was actually gonna play defense for the remaining 45 mins against italy… Mayb against CONCACAF that wudv worked but Lippi is a tactical genius and once the US became overly complacent and tired he put in 2 offensive subs to finish them off… That’s exactly what happened… The US should’ve studied the Italy v. Holland tape in Euro 2008 to learn exactly how to defeat that particular lineup. I was very disappointed with the overall US mentality and as a team they seem soooo lost. I don’t see Bradley as the coach to get them to that next level… He’s a “systems” coach and sacrifices a lot of results sticking to his systems. (i.e Beasley at left back, feilhaber on the right…wtf?) There are true players who excell in their own particular postions. these stupid experiments rarely work even for the elite squads. It’s sad to say but the US looks in bad shape… It’s a young team that rides mostly on confidence and discipline neither of which seem existent at the moment. Results are KEY for a squad like the USA…. I’d love to see this lineup against Brazil..

    Dempsey was absolutely lost on the left vs Italy and it’s obvious that both Dempsey and Donovan are stronger on the right…so keep em there… Spector has been super solid latley and links well with dempsey.
    Torres was the US best offensive threat against Costa Rica and was subbed for some reason… I would love to see him go up against a Brazilian team not known for its D. Feilhaber seems more comfortable in the middle with many passing options available for him…. so give that to him. He’s also a better defender than Kljestan so I think he should start. Bradley will do the dirty work as usual… Bocanegra is a conservative player so the team needs that presence especially on the left where they seem to be that weakest.
    I think the US should go for the 3 pts so that puts a whole lot of pressure on the defense to keep the US from falling behind or losing a lead. Bocanegra will be the x-factor on the left.

    The US should attack and be very aggressive with the brazilians. If brazil has an achilles heel it would be their ego and Defense so destroy them both… haha Easier said than done though ;)


  • Johnny Boy

    The red card while harsh was in the acceptable range to give-late and high. Clark could have seriously hurt someone.

    Donovan haters forget about the corner kick that Davies could and should have easily headed in.. which gives Donovan three passes that should have been converted.

    Feilhaber is either rusty or else never heard that giving the ball away so easily (and not just on the goal) is a bad idea. Benny is so easy to knock down he looks like Freddy Adu.

    Ditto for Dempsey. Sit him down now and play Adu, Torres or someone else who would benefit from the experience. He seems to be sluggish and tired, about 80%. The US would have won or tied if he and Feilhaber hadn’t been so lazy with that ball they gifted to Rossi.

    Jamie Trecker? Is he still writing about soccer? He knows as much about soccer as Ives does about the inner workings of the Guardian Council of Iran(just a guess).

    Rossi looks like Billy Joel (younger edition).

    Demerit and Spector looked good. I hope they get an extended look. Beasely looked better than he has lately but, as he sub, he still ain’t no Cobi Jones.


  • Angel

    I was wonder if you can start a poll of who people would like to see as the New Coach of USMNT just for kick.

    Well was thinking of who can be the next coach for either for this World Cup or the next one. Here are some name and let me know who would you like to take over the National Team
    H. Hidding, La Volpe, Pekerman, Bielsa, Scholari, Alex Ferguson, Frank Rijkaard, Juande Ramos (Ex Real Madrid Coach), Klisman, Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Coach, Erickson, Mourinho , El Coco Basile, Schuster, Louis van Gaa, Maldinni etc.


  • madmax

    I thought coach Bradley gave the game away. He doesn’t seem to have an ability to adapt to changing game conditions. When Costa Rica overran his flanks he froze. Here with and exhausted central defense he waits way too long to react, and Rossi literally walks in twenty meters to score. The excuse that he had no one after Clark got ejected (‘left Bob Bradley with no good options after Clark’s red card’) is only true because of his own poor team selections. The result didn’t reflect on the team and their effort, but certainly highlighted a Coach way over his head.


  • ThaDeuce

    Bradley’s tactics in the first half were stellar. we started great, held our own, got a red card, and AFTER THAT, scored the first goal. Maybe he lagged in substitutions, but maybe he just didn’t feel defensively comfortable with anyone on the bench. I can’t blame him, but from my tv screen I think Torres would have been a good option.

    All in all, great game by the U.S. Unlucky red card.

    (screw) Rossi


  • Eurosnob

    Red card for USA and 1-3 against Italy it looks like success for many of you.Americans don’t understand football (soccer).Sorry guys you are idiots.


  • daggius

    game was a joke

    altidore should have taken a shot after donovans pass

    red card should have been a yellow

    usa was giving italy way too much space in the midfield in the second half

    should have put kljestan in early in ENFORCER MODE, which is what he has been doing for chivas usa this season, e.g. playing physical instead of scoring goals,

    and a defender jumped on top of donovan in side the box and knocked him down, thats not a pk right there?

    and its not a red card when the last defender trips altidore in the box either for that pk?

    joke ref
    joke game


  • madmax

    briank “3. Jamie Trecker is killing Tim Howard for the second goal and claiming that Tim is not being challenged for his spot as #1. I don’t agree with Trecker. Ives,…

    I agree with some points Trecker made on Howard and then add my own. Howard does not seem to work hard to stay sighted. And second he has a noticeable communications problem with his own defenders. On several occasions now I’ve seen CD’s running at him asking to play it back and getting no answer. They then have to clear it out at the last second, and this is with little or no pressure.


  • madmax

    The people comparing Rossi’s goals with Bradley’s and Jozy’s misses overlook one important detail, Rossi was unmarked on both occasions. Thank Coach Bradley and his staff not the exhausted players.

    Can Italy beat USA 11 vs 11, We don’t know.


  • Andrew

    Okay, Okay—- Rossi’s first goal was nothing short of amazing!! I think Altidore can be every bit of good as Rossi.. The biggest difference I see now and when Rossi plays for Villareal.. Selfishness. All the world class strikers (Messi, torres, Rooney?) possess a certain amount of selfishness in front of the goal. Jozy lacks that bite right now, and more playing time will get him there. He is pure, raw undeveloped talent and at 19 should have the prowess to become a world class striker. Keep playing Jozy!!!!!


  • madmax

    Ives, “Clark’s ejection exposed a weak spot in the U.S. roster, the lack of defensive midfield options.”

    The last I heard was that Coach Bradley made the Cup selections.


  • Keith

    In spite of the score, I think the U.S. defense played very well while being a man down most of the game. Italy’s first two goals were real masterpieces — blistering shots to the goal corners from well outside the box. catching Howard by surprise. The last goal was the only one where it looked like they danced through the defense. I really like Onyewu’s distribution and Spector’s calmness on the ball. The back line can only get better once Bocanegra returns.

    I’ve been more concerned with the U.S. lack of attacking decisiveness, and last night it really hurt us. This is the third game in a row where we still haven’t scored from the run-of-play. Four U.S. goals in the last three games: three from penalty kicks, and one from a corner kick. We’re not very threatening up top. Hopefully Jozy can regain more of his form during this tournament — he looks much sharper than he was in the last two qualifiers.

    Maybe Dempsey should only play one half of the next two games — he looks like he needs the rest. We know what he’s capable of, so this is a real drop off in form. He’s not doing anymore than Torres, Feilhaber, or Sacha could provide -or Adu for that matter.


  • Tom

    Dempsey needs to stay at home until he figures out if he wants to play for the national team or not. For the past three games he has looked like he could care less about playing for the US. He puts in a lot of effort at Fulham and does a good job. I don’t know why he doesn’t play like that for the US.

    Keep Beasly at home too, until he gets some minutes with some sort of club team.

    I think that a Stuart Holden, Chris Rolfe, or a Chris Pontius(Maybe) needs a chance at replacing Dempsey and Beasley.


  • fifawitz1313

    I think something we forget and need to remember for some perspective is that our average player age in this game was 22.9 years old for the US and 29.4 for the Italians. We need to stop being so short sighted and remember that this team is being built for 2014/18 and we need to approach 2010 with the right attitude… aka we are gaining MORE EXPERIENCE for our 2014/18 runs. Sure we all want to win it now but let’s be patient and see how our young stars develope over the next five-six years. Then if they underperform Gulati and whoever is coach then should definately go.


  • madmax

    The fact that Ives gave Beasley and Kjlestan 5’s says that many people including Ives have lowered their expectations, probably because they were included. Neither should be on the squad based on merit. Please tell me where they were on the last goal, please.


  • Patrick Marshall


    It think you graded the boys on a curve! Dont get me wrong, I thought it was a great effort overall under the circumstances of playing a man down, and I agree with most of your assesments, just they were all a little high. I could not give GOOCH a 7 after reaching across with his right foot to TRY and block a shot that could easily have been cleared with the left. That is a mistake I occassionally expect to see with an inexperienced youth player, but not a national player. He has some great qualities, but is not a complete player and he continually makes critical mistakes. I also could not give a seven to anyone who missed a sitting duck, even though I admit Bradley and Altidore had exceptional games. I think Beasley did better than some have given him credit for but he really needs to improve on his service. Davies did not do as well as he should have and we dropped off when he came on. Altidore challenged well and used his frame well in his challenges. Landon is exceptional when running with the ball. Free kicks should be better from him. I agree with you on Spectors play. Best performance of all the defenders. The give aways in the middle of the field have to stop. I cannot stand to watch a player give the ball away in the middle of the field, but to then sit there and watch? this is becoming a trend. If players quit on their teamates, their coach and their country, they do not deserve to be on the field. This happened with some key players against Costa Rico as well. That is what troubles me.


  • Brent McD.

    A few random comments:

    * Torres delivers a better centering cross than Landon. Just saying. However to suggest that he could bring some bite as a DM is insane — the guy is smaller and more fragile than Beasley.

    * Those recommending Bocanegra for LB are forgetting that our outside backs need to be able to surge forward the entire length of the field into the offensive end. Do you really see the Blackmouth running down the left wing and delivering a cross?

    * Surprised how folks roundly criticized Michael Bradley for not finishing his chance in the box, but Camoranesi clearly clips his heel which wrong-foots him. Good, sneaky defending but a lot of players probably flop when they feel that contact and force the ref to make a decision. Give MB some credit for trying to finish the play on his feet.

    * The whole Rossi situation begs a hypothetical — what if he wasn’t good enough to play for Italy a la Jermaine Jones with Germany? You, me, and everyone else would happily welcome him back to the fold and start him up top. I still reserve the right to boo the guy when he wears the Italy shirt.

    * I don’t think too many knowledgable fans have false hopes or unrealistic expectations for the USMNT. No question our #14 FIFA ranking is too high. At this point, as a fan, I ask for a competitive spirit and continuous improvement. I think we are getting that from the current team.

    * Having said that, I wouldn’t mind if Bob Bradley fielded an all-European-based squad. Our MLS guys all-too-frequently look over-matched in International games. Maybe Bradley drops a none-too-subtle hint: if you want to play for the MNT, then get your a$$ to Europe and learn how to play the game properly.

    * Many of the apoplectic comments I’ve read in the last 24 hours are reminiscent of 2007’s Copa America discussion. Remember these tournaments are preparation for the Big One next summer. In the end, the World Cup (and to a lesser extent, the Gold Cup) is all that matters and is how Bradley should be judged. To suggest firing him less than one year before the World Cup is ridiculous. If we go three-and-out next summer, then Bob will be gone. Count on it.


  • Doug IL

    I do not feel as positive about the game as many others. To me, USA never looked really dangerous, even at full strength.

    I was left with a feeling of frustration once again that we cannot create many opportunities from the run of play.

    I believe John Harkes among others listed Jozy’s ability to draw the red card as one of the positives of the game. If we have to start relying on players diving and embellishing to create offense, I am really worried.


  • !

    Bradley if you are reading this: START TORRES! He was one of the only ones who looked like he belonged on the field in Costa Rica but for some reason, he was taken off at halftime. He shows creativity on the ball in the central midfield. Possibly the true #10 playmaker we have been looking for.


  • Peter Bering

    If Guiseppe Rossi of evident Italian ancestry had been born in the Netherlands, been a dual citizen and even played in the Ajax youth system(our best), and had then chosen to play for Italy, we would genuinely have wished him the best of luck and kept in friendly touch.

    It is not as if G Rossi would have been a worse player had he grown up only in Italy…. His father and G both GAVE to US football by coaching and playing there while G was a child. They have not TAKEN anything! G Rossi pretty much trained and played with Italians from the age of 13, always wanted to play for Italy, IS evidently Italian and was never even coveted by US trainers unskilled in recognizing talent for national teams until it was WAY to late. Go Rossi!


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