By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. men's national team entered its match against Italy having never beaten the Azzurri, going 0-7-3 in games dating back to 1934.
That winless streak ended on Wednesday.
The Americans defeated Italy, 1-0, for the first time off a second-half goal from Clint Dempsey in front of small crowd at Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris in Genoa. The goal came in the 55th minute when Jozy Altidore brought down a cross from left back Fabian Johnson and played a short pass to Dempsey, who hit a low shot past Gianluigi Buffon for his 25th international goal.
The result marked the U.S. team's fourth straight victory, their second consecutive on European soil and Jurgen Klinsmann's fifth as U.S. head coach. The United States also improved their record under Klinsmann to 5-4-1 with the win.
Playing in their new, blue away jerseys, the Americans put forth a defensively-disciplined performance playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Italians were whistled for offsides nine times in a game that saw Klinsmann deploy Johnson at left back in his third appearance for the United States.
The hosts still managed to enjoy the majority of the chances in the game, including on a close range effort from Thiago Motta that was kick-saved by Tim Howard in the fourth minute.
Unfortunately for the Italians, the U.S. defense bent but never broke.
Johnson's surging runs forward, Howard's saves and Michael Bradley's command of the midfield helped blank Andrea Pirlo and the hosts in a first half that saw Italy repeatedly try to beat the U.S. defense with balls played in over the top.
The frustration for Italy continued in the second half, as Bradley and central midfielder partner Maurice Edu closed down the space in front of the back four. The United States also benefited from the energy of substitutes Terrence Boyd, who made his international debut in the match, and Jonathan Spector.
That defensive effort allowed the Americans to put together some nice passing sequences against the run of play, including on the decisive one in the 55th minute.
On that play, Bradley hit Johnson with a pass down the left flank before Johnson pinpointed Altidore with a right-footed cross. Altidore took a touch on the ball and then fed Dempsey just inside the top of the penalty area for the winner.