Clint Dempsey’s dream season continues.
In a friendly exhibition, Dempsey continued his European attack and scored the game-winning goal to help the Unite States Men’s National Soccer Team shutout soccer powerhouse Italy 1-0 at Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa on Wednesday night.
The American midfielder’s goal in the 55th minute proved to be the decisive shot that gave the U.S. and its latest coach a signature win against the four-time World Cup champions. In a heroic effort, Dempsey accepted a pass from forward Jozy Altidore and put a right-foot shot from just inside the penalty area past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for a low strike to the side of the net. It was Dempsey’s 25th goal in 83 international appearances as he became just the fourth American to score a goal against Italy.
Dempsey has made a habit of taking big shots, for both his national team and for Fulham in the English Premier League. A native of Nacogdoches, Texas the 28-year-old has had the most accomplished season by a U.S. attacking player in European soccer. With 16 goals this season for Fulham, Dempsey has become the American career scoring leader in England’s Premier League with 43 goals.
After a slow start under new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann -the former German national team star player and coach who has lived in California for more than a decade- it appears as Team USA is turning things around. Italy, ranked 8th in the world, dominated the game for stretches and outshot the 31st-ranked U.S. 19-4. But the Americans were resilient and held on as the Azzurri were called for offside nine times to none for the United States.
The historic victory marks the Americans first against the Azzurri in 11 matches in 78 years. The U.S. record against Italy was a dismal 0-7-3 and had been outscored 32-4, but with retired baseball star Mike Piazza and former Team U.S.A. forward Brian McBride proudly leading the celebration of red, white and blue supporters in the stands, the Americans went to win their fourth straight match, and their third consecutive shutout, to improve to 5-4-1 under Klinsmann.