USA opened their 2009 Confederations Cup schedule against the current World Cup holders, Italy. Unfortunately, they were only given a fair shot for 33 minutes. That’s when the referee sent US midfielder Ricardo Clark to the dressing room for a silly tackle on Genarro Gattuso. No one would argue that it wasn’t a foul or a yellow card, but a red card was way too stiff of a penalty. In my opinion, Clark was one of the best players on the field for the Americans in their last game against Honduras and through the first 30 minutes of today’s game. His sending off changed the entire complexion of the match. Italy would go on to win 3-1.
I’m not going to try and argue that the USA should have won, but Italy didn’t need the help and it was unfortunate that they got it like that.
Overall, I’m not disappointed with the performance. Italy are the World Cup champions for a reason. This game really just illustrated how far from that level that we really are. Every Italian touch of the ball had a purpose. Their clearances from the back were directed straight to their midfielders, unlike the Americans, who would clear the ball blindly and return possession to the Italians immediately.
The Americans did play much better than they had in their previous two games. Today’s 3-1 loss was nothing like the 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
To add some salt to the wound, Italy’s three goals were scored by Daniele de Rossi and Giuseppe Rossi. You may remember de Rossi for his vicious elbow on Brian McBride during the 2006 World Cup that earned him a four match ban. Giuseppi Rossi may be a little less familiar to fans, but it is worth noting that he was born in New Jersey to Italian parents and lived in the States until he was 17. This gave him the option of playing for the United States or for Italy. Obviously, he chose Italy.
I think it’s kind of a stupid rule that allows players to chose like this, but it’s a rule nonetheless. It’s a rule that the Americans have taken advantage of several times throughout the past 20 years. Jeff Agoos was born in Switzerland and David Regis was born in France. Both represented the US in a World Cup (poorly, but represented all the same). Former captain Claudio Reyna was born in America, but had the option of representing Argentina or Portugal due to heritage. I guess you win some, you lose some. I will never cheer for Mr. Rossi, but I understand his decision.
The US will take on Brazil on Thursday. The South Americans won in thrilling fashion 4-3 over Egypt in the early match.