6.19.2006

ITALY v. UNITED STATES [1-1]

Italian Heartthrobs Could Not Get Rid Of Me

HIGHLIGHTS


Americans will be glad to know that it's become a little less easy to hate them, not merely because of Daniele De Rossi's disgusting display, but also because the U.S. finally showed up to play, albeit after they'd already lost 2 men to red cards. They deserved more than a draw, and for the first 25 minutes of the second half, with 9 against 10, were clearly the better team, putting the Italians firmly on the back foot. True to form, the Azzurri were content to sit four defenders back, even with a man advantage and all the space in the world, at least until the last 10 minutes when they finally decided to press. It was a match the U.S. could have (should have?) won, were it not for Brian McBride being caught offsides.

But whatever. I watched the match in a theater rented out by a bunch of young Germans, and to a man (save the half Italian girl I could hear sigh even from across the room) the U.S. earned at least 50 new fans that night.

But the biggest non-surprise was the Italian red card. Okay, so it wasn't Totti sent off, but perceptive minds have been saying for months that certain Italian players, when given the opportunity, will fail spectacularly. Both American cards were stupid -- on the part of both Mastroeni and Pope -- but Pope looked terrible and was at fault for the only Italian goal, so perhaps the U.S. is better off without him.

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