The United States men’s national soccer team wrapped up one of its most disappointing years in recent memory by losing 1-0 to Italy on Tuesday night.
Matteo Politano scored for Italy four minutes into stoppage time to break a scoreless tie in the friendly match, which was played in Genk, Belgium.
Americans Can’t Generate Scoring Threat
The Italians had the majority of the possession throughout the game, but were unable to generate many good chances to score until the second half. As the match wore on, Italy looked likely to score, though American hopes of escaping with a draw were high as the game entered stoppage time.
But a nice move by Politano in combination with Marco Verratti gave Italy enough to slip a goal past Ethan Horvath at the last moment, ruining a potential clean sheet for the 23-year-old goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, the Americans proved unable to create offensive chances, putting the team on the back foot for almost the entire match.
“Yes, it’s about defending. But we can’t defend every game for 90 minutes,” midfielder Wil Trapp said after the match. “It’s just having a culture of confidence that we can step on the field and play alongside these teams. That’s the difference, I think, it terms of what Italy was able to do tonight and what we weren’t able to do.”
Sarachan Ends Run as Interim Manager
The match came just days after the United States suffered a 3-0 defeat to England, and will likely end Dave Sarachan’s run as interim manager of the national team. During his year in charge, Sarachan led the team to a 3-5-3 record, a run that included losses to prestigious teams like Brazil, England, and Italy, but also included some memorable triumphs, such as a 1-0 win over Mexico on Sept. 11.
Given that the United States did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, this year was seen as a transitional time for the national team. Throughout the year, 23 players made international debuts, and Sarachan sent out the youngest starting lineup for the USA in the team’s modern history on Tuesday, one that had an average age of just over 22 years old. The match also marked the first time Christian Pulisic served as captain for the United States, making him the youngest captain in the national team’s history.
With so many new players getting the opportunity to show their talents and get experience against world class competition, Sarachan is leaving with the sense that his time at the helm was a success.
“I feel, as the leader over the last 12 months of this program, I feel that we have moved it forward,” he said after Tuesday’s match. “It may not look like that to everyone on the outside, but if you look at the games we have played and the players we have exposed to this level, that we brought forth, I am certain it will pay dividends down the line.”
The US Soccer Federation is expected to name a new permanent head coach before the end of 2018.