The United States defeated Italy 1-0 in Genoa yesterday, locking down their first win in 11 tries (and 82 years) against the Azzurri, and handing the hosts their first loss since 1924 at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris.
The game’s only goal came in the 55th minute, from the right foot of Clint Dempsey, who is in the midst of the best year of his career and one of the best years by an American player, ever. Dempsey has 16 goals in all competitions for Fulham this season, more than any other player in the Premier League except Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, and Sergio Aguero.
The Americans produced their strongest performance of the 10-game Jurgen Klinsmann era, and though Italy had more of the ball, and seriously threatened late in the match, the U.S. victory was well deserved.
Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Tim Howard, and Fabian Johnson all had standout games. Bradley made a convincing case to be at the top of the center-midfield depth chart, and Johnson, who was solid on both sides of the ball all night (and played the pass to Jozy Altidore that led to the goal), may be the solution to the U.S.’s decades-old left-back problem.
Dempsey’s match-winning strike was his 25th goal for the U.S. national team (fourth-most all-time, leapfrogging Joe–Max Moore) and reinforced his knack for scoring big goals.
In addition to scoring an equalizer in the 2006 World Cup against Ghana, Dempsey headed home the crucial third goal against Egypt that advanced the U.S. out of group play in the 2009 Confederations Cup, bagged the insurance goal in the historic 2-0 win over Spain in the semifinals of that competition, and scored the opener against Brazil in the final.
At the 2010 World Cup, Dempsey got the tying goal against England (with some help from Robert Green), and had a goal controversially disallowed against Algeria before being involved in Landon Donovan’s iconic late winner in that one. He also scored five goals in 13 World Cup qualifiers that season.
Yes, Dempsey is a big-time player, and last night he delivered a milestone win. It was the fourth straight victory for the Americans, who are now 5-4-1 under Klinsmann. (And Donovan and Dempsey have yet to suit up together under the new boss.)
They’re off now until late spring, when they’ll take on Scotland (May 26, 8:00 pm ET, NBCSN) and Brazil (May 30, 8:00 ET, ESPN2).