Vittoria Americana! What We Learned In Genoa
There comes a time in a team’s history when they can look back and say, “that was the turning point for us”.
The USMNT’s compelling 1-0 victory over Italy in Genoa doesn’t guarantee the American squad anything, but it does symbolize a growing point for American soccer.
The Ledger takes a look at a few symbolic moments that took place on the pitch today for Jurgen Klinsmann and his Kinder Krew.
The Defense: For the first time in the Jurgen Klinsmann era, the back line played organized defense for the full 90. 77th minute sub Jonathan Spector’s exceptional shot blocking and constant stonewalling of Italy’s mad-flanking attacks during the game’s final moments, was a brave yet successful move on Klinsmann’s behalf.
The Ex-Coach’s Son: Michael Bradley proved yet again he is America’s best option at controlling both sides of the midfield. Bradley played calm under immense pressure and seemed to defensively position himself correctly throughout the pitch, and it was his initial service to the middle that set up the winning goal.
Jozy Altidore: U.S. Soccer fans were beginning to tire of hearing how ‘strong and physical’ Altidore’s play was…until now. He was a menace for the wing defenders and overpowering for Italy’s center-backs. His soft trap from a Bradley cross, followed by a sweet touch-and-pass to Clint Dempsey set up the game’s only goal.
The Deuce: If Bradley is Klinsmann’s ‘cool cucumber’, Clint Dempsey is his ‘fearless scrapper’. His knack for finding the back of the net and prolific goal scoring in the EPL this year has produced a confident midfield attacker in Dempsey. Something the USMNT has lacked throughout the years.
Brek Shea: Another quiet (and disappointing) game from the FC Dallas protegé. JK has given Shea every opportunity to showcase his lethal attacking style MLS fans are accustomed to seeing. Blame it on a lack of experience, but Shea’s refusal to push the ball upfield with his blazing speed is becoming a concern. It is difficult to watch him be content on the wings and quickly pass the ball away, instead of making runs off the ball to create space.
Jurgen’s American Plan: JK has tried to implement the ‘German attacking style’ everyone has been craving for since his arrival. But what he did today for American soccer was simply coach & manage.
In the past, U.S. defenders would helplessly ‘circle the wagons’ the entire game until they conceeded a late goal and then call it a ‘gritty effort’. Wednesday, Klinsmann played to the Italian’s strengths, allowing them to penetrate the attacking third with ease, only to close down the lanes with a smothering defense.
Offensively, the USMNT customarily plays a wild and disorganized style, but Klinsmann chose to possess more than usual. Dempsey, Bradley, et al, wisely moved forward with smaller passes in the stead of lower percentage risky long balls. The slower play eventually set up of the well scripted game winning goal; a rare scene for American soccer.
There’s More Than Donovan: Lastly, Klinsmann’s experimental lineups has revealed one thing: U.S. Soccer has more to lean on than just Landon Donovan now. A combination of a possessive style of soccer coupled with molding his kinders into understanding the game, has proven that the USMNT is deeper than anyone could have imagined.
For the starting XI in Genoa…be aware.