Clint Dempsey got the only goal as the U.S. logged its first win in 11 meetings stretching back to 1934 against four-time world soccer champion Italy.
Dempsey collected a pass from Jozy Altidore 10 minutes after halftime and fired a shot into the center of the goal at Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa in last night’s exhibition match. It was eighth-ranked Italy’s second straight defeat at home and its first loss in Genoa since 1924.
“It’s a confidence builder,” Dempsey told ESPN in a televised interview. “The goal is to qualify for the World Cup, so it’s important to come to a place like this and play big teams on their own soil and get results.”
The U.S., which is ranked 31st by World Cup organizer FIFA, lost 7-1 in its first match against Italy, on May 27, 1934, at the World Cup in Rome. The Americans are undefeated this year and have won four straight games under Jurgen Klinsmann, who was appointed manager in July. In all games under the former Germany player and coach, the U.S. has won five, lost four and tied one.
Sebastian Giovinco forced U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard into a save with Italy’s first realistic chance to score before the home team’s Alessandro Matri put the ball into the net in the 25th minute, only for it to be canceled by an offside call.
Dempsey, who plays for Fulham in England’s Premier League, came close for the U.S. 12 minutes later, forcing Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to bat away his free kick from about 25 yards (22 meters).
The U.S. next hosts Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 26 before taking on record five-time world champion Brazil four days later in Landover, Maryland. Scotland tied 1-1 in Slovenia last night, while Brazil beat Bosnia 2-1 two days ago.
The U.S. begins qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on June 8 in Tampa, Florida, against Antigua and Barbuda. Jamaica and Guatemala are also in the group.
The game was part of Italy’s preparation for the European Championship, which Poland and Ukraine will host from June 8 to July 1. Italy will play world champion Spain, the Republic of Ireland and Croatia in its opening group stage.