US falls to Italy at Confederations Cup

16 Jun
Frustration for Jay DeMerit and team USA after letting a 1-0 lead slip away in a 3-1 loss to Italy.

Frustration for Jay DeMerit and team USA after letting a 1-0 lead slip away in a 3-1 loss to Italy.

Despite taking a 1-0 lead into halftime, the US dropped a 3-1 decision to Italy in their opening game of the Confederations Cup.  Giuseppe Rossi scored twice for the Italians and Daniele de Rossi tallied the gamewinner.

The US looked pretty good in the first half.  They didn’t seem intimidated by Italy at all.  The solid play of the Americans came to a screeching halt in the 33rd minute when Ricardo Clark was shown a red card for a late tackle.  Clark’s tackle was definitely a foul, but there’s no way that it deserved a red card.  Man, the US gets tough breaks when it comes to red cards against Italy (the US also had 2 reds in the World Cup match in 2006).  Despite losing a man, the US continued to play well in the first half and it didn’t seem like losing Clark was hurting too much.  Only six minutes after Clark got sent off, Jozy Altidore received a long ball down the side and then was taken down in the box as he tried to cut back inside.  (Altidore clearly embellished the act, but I still think it was a foul.  Plus, Italy has a tendency to dive – so I’d say it’s a fair call.)  Altidore earned the penalty call and Landon Donovan scored the spot kick to give the US a 1-0 lead going into halftime. 

In the second half, you could clearly see the US starting to lose steam.  Losing Clark was finally starting to take its toll.  Rossi tallied his first goal on a long strike from the left side, beating Tim Howard to the near post.   The US needs to be able to close that space down and get in front of Rossi; you can’t let someone unleash shots like that with no pressure.  de Rossi scored from a similar spot shortly after, again, with no one closing him down.  Despite going a goal down, the US had a couple chances to equalize with the best chance coming off a Charlie Davies header off a Donovan corner kick.  Unfortunately, Davies couldn’t control the ball enough to even put it on target.  Rossi put a draw out of reach when he scored a second off a cross from Andrea Pirlo.

Landon Donovan gets fouled in the match against Italy.

Landon Donovan gets fouled in the match against Italy.

It’s a frustrating loss for the US, especially after they started out playing so well.  You can blame the red card or what not, but the bottom line that the Americans need to be able to put a whole game together against top flight competition outside the US.  They’ll be looking at a short stay in South Africa next summer (assuming they qualify) if they can’t play smart the whole game and they can’t finish when they have the chances.  Especially against top competition, you will only get so many chances and you HAVE to take advantage of them and at least put them on goal.

There’s also a lot of moaning about Rossi, who was born in New Jersey, playing for Italy instead of the US.  His father is Italian and he  has dual citizenship so he can play for either country.  Now if you had a choice as to whether to play for the defending World Cup champs or the US, who would you choose?  Yeah, it sucks, but the US isn’t going to keep players like Rossi here if they don’t start performing on the world stage.  I’m not saying the US has to win the World Cup, but advancing out of the group stages and a good showing in the quarter finals would be a solid place to start (like 2002 WC performance).  There’s also the issue of consistency – the 2002 World Cup was awesome for the US, but then 2006 was a complete disaster.  They’ve got to start stepping up on the big stage when it matters.  A good game against Brazil on Thursday would be a great place to start (ESPN2/9:30 a.m ET).

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