Just as the U.S. Men’s National Team thought it was leaving Genk, Belgium with a scoreless tie with Italy, the Azzurri struck for a stoppage-time game-winner.
Matteo Politano finished off an Italian move inside the penalty area with a shot that flew past Ethan Horvath in the 94th minute to hand the host side a deserved victory.
The Americans were dominated throughout the contest with the Azzurri, but they were bailed out by Horvath’s play in net.
Horvath turned away five shots and was in the right position on countless occasions in his third-career appearance for the USMNT.
Italy took over the contest from the start, as Roberto Mancini’s side took advantage of the gaps in the 3-5-2 system utilized by interim manager Dave Sarachan, who was likely coaching his last game before a permanent manager is hired.
The 3-5-2, which looked more like a five-man back line for the majority of the opening 45 minutes, appeared disjointed with the Azzurri poking holes in the formation, especially on the flanks against an out-of-position Shaq Moore and Reggie Cannon.
Fortunately for the Americans, they made it to halftime in a scoreless tie with the host side, but they didn’t improve much in the second stanza.
As Horvath continued to shine in goal, the USMNT attack looked lifeless, even with Christian Pulisic paired alongside Josh Sargent.
Walker Zimmerman produced the most promising scoring opportunity of the second 45 with a wide header off a set piece, but nothing else of significance came out of the Americans, who enter 2019 on a 241-minute scoreless streak.
Seconds before the final whistle blew, the USMNT’s 2018 schedule came to a disappointing and fitting end as Politano scored his first-career international goal.
Next up for the Americans should be an announcement in the near future about who the new head coach will be, while the next scheduled game is February 2 against Costa Rica, which will mark the conclusion of the January camp.