USA V Italy: U.S. Soccer & Italy

March 2, 2012 by staff 

USA V Italy: U.S. Soccer & Italy, It’s not Guns ‘N Roses unless you have Axl Rose and Slash. And it’s not the U.S. National Team unless you have Donovan and Dempsey. Unfortunately, they haven’t played together in the Klinsmann era (either duo, though I doubt GNR refer to this as the “Klinsmann era”).

It’s nothing to worry about — they’ll be back on the same page by the time the important World Cup qualifiers role around. But in the meantime we’ve had to suffice with the likes of Chris Wondolowski — the Buckethead of international soccer — which makes it hard to assess the state of the national team.

Today’s lineup against Italy: Howard | Fabian Johnson, Bocanegra, Goodson, Cherundolo | Brek Shea, Edu, Bradley, Danny Williams | Dempsey, Altidore. I’m including first names of players who are new-ish to the national team, partly to familiarize the uninitiated and partly as an excuse to drop the name Fabian. I love that we have a Fabian on our team. I hope he becomes a regular. I hope when he scores a goal he pulls a handfull of glitter out of his shin guard, throws it in the air, stares at the camera and just whispers “Fabian”. Great name.

I mostly agree with this lineup. I’d rather see Cameron than Goodson, but that’s not really because Cameron is better; I just want to see how he does in this situation. With so many key players unavailable — Donovan, Chandler, Onyewu, Jones — the lineup mostly writes itself. So far, national team fans have only seen Johnson in attacking roles, but he plays left back for Hoffenheim.
Here’s kickoff…

4’ – Italy gets an early chance, but Howard makes an excellent save. Almost the trademark USMNT early goal conceded right there.

6’ – I like the new U.S. jerseys, though they kind of look like a vest. Could they be inspired by Rick Santorum?

11’ – I was glad when Taylor Twellman replaced John Harkes as ESPN’s color commentator, but then D.C. United picked up Harkes, which means I will hear him call 34 games this year. Be careful what you wish for.

14’ – Ian Darke: “Goal line technology may be on the way.” Since the technology has been around for about 15 years, I can only assume that Darke means “Sepp Blatter is an old man and can’t hang on forever.”

18’ – If I were an opposing coach, I’d tell my fullbacks to force Brek Shea onto his right. I’d also tell them to make fun of his hair, but that’s just for catharsis — doesn’t really have anything to do with the game.

Goodson was good enough on defense. (Tanopress – AP) 24’ – Shea and Johnson have been okay going forward, but they’re not exactly locking it down on the left side.

27’ – Altidore’s wrist was stepped on and he may have to come out. Now is a good time to mention: 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund prospect Terrence Boyd is on the bench. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Boyd’s mother is German, and his father is an American serviceman. In the next defense appropriations bill, what do you say we zero out the F-35 fighter and put all that money towards contraception and sex education for our servicemen in Germany?

34’ – Ian Darke points out that Thiago Motta played for Brazil in the 2003 Gold Cup but is now playing for Italy, an apparent violation of FIFA rules. But his next line is funny: “He got the clearance — who are we to question it?” Um…“we” in that sentence would be “people who hear ‘FIFA’ and ‘Italian football’ and are willing to entertain the possibility that corruption may have played a role in the decision.”

35’ – Dempsey blasts a free kick that rattles the brittle bones of 76-year-old Gigi Buffon. Buffon obviously took his Centrum Silver before the match.

39’ – Why no Balotelli for Italy? I mean, I can guess the reason: because Balotelli did something stupid. But what, specifically? He’s killing it for Manchester City at the moment.

43’ – Good chance for Motta at the top of the box, but Howard makes the save. Most of Italy’s shots have gone right at Howard, which most people call “luck” but goalkeepers call “good positioning”. I’d like to see a goalkeeper play roulette: “Hey, you won! Great positioning!”

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