In Case You Missed ’Em: Three Great Goals from the Past Week

We’re a little late on two of these, but all three are worthy of multiple looks.

First up, Philippe Mexes, French center back for AC Milan, getting all Rivaldo-like* on Anderlecht in the Champions League last Wednesday:

Then there was Lukas Podolski’s stinging volley for Arsenal against Montpelier, also in the Champions League:

Sweet chip from Olivier Giroud to set him up, and what a finish.

Finally, a terrific team goal from Borussia Dortmund against Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga yesterday—a sweeping move from left to right, finished off by a one-touch exchange in the box and a clinical volley by Jakub “Kuba” Błaszczykowski**:

That one might’ve been the best of the bunch. Watch out for Dortmund in the Champions League, people.

*If you clicked the link and watched that Rivaldo goal, you may well have just witnessed the greatest goal in the history of the game. It was his third of the night, and it won the match 3-2. No, really.

**Kuba also scored what was, for our money, the best goal of Euro 2012. Here it is again, Poland vs Russia:

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Michael Bradley: Making His Mark at Chievo

There’s a good read by Paolo Bandini over at The Footy Blog on U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and his emergence as the engine of Serie A side Chievo’s midfield.

The locals have taken quite a shine to the young Yank, with one Verona journo praising his ability to both “destroy play and construct it.” They’ve also appreciated his effort to learn Italian, which he has done well enough to conducts postgame interviews in the language.

Bradley has quickly worked his way into an important starting role, and the club tied title contenders Juventus 1-1 their last time out.

It’s all good stuff, but, really, as one commenter points out, European fans need to come up with a better nickname for American imports than “Captain America.” Claudio Reyna had the tag back in his day, and it was sort of tired then.

U.S. 1, Italy 0: Dempsey Delivers Historic Win

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.

Highlights here:

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 JoeMax 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).

Can Depleted U.S. Hold Its Own Against Italy?

The U.S. national team takes on Italy in Genoa today (2:30, ESPN2), and the absences of definite starters Landon Donovan (bronchitis), Oguchi Onyewu (knee), and Timothy Chandler (hamstring), along with probable starters Jose Torres (hamstring) and Jermaine Jones (calf) have sent the game’s degree of difficulty ticking upward in the past few days.

Given the fact that the four-time world champions are 15-0-5  (w-l-t) in their last 20 games at Genoa’s Luigi Ferraris Stadium, and haven’t lost at the venue since 1924, this was always going to be a tough game. Now, we’re just hoping the Yanks keep the scoreline respectable. A draw would feel like a win this afternoon.

Here’s a clip of the U.S. team in its final preparations:

What lineup would you like to see Jurgen Klinsmann trot out today? Think Sacha Kljestan will get a starting nod? Will Terrence Boyd see the field at some point? Let us know in the comments.

This is the lineup we’d like to see:

———————Howard——————

Cherundolo—Bocanegra—Cameron—F. Johnson

D. Williams——Edu——Bradley——Shea

———Dempsey———Altidore—————

For a more defensive posture, this could be tweaked to a 4-2-3-1 with Edu and Bradley sitting in front of the back four, Williams and Shea on the wings and Dempsey withdrawn behind Altidore. But the lone-striker scenario has never worked very well for the U.S., and we’d love to see Dempsey log significant minutes at striker, where he’s scored 16 goals for Fulham this season.