RJ DEMELLO - Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Coming of a 3-0 demolishing in the opening game of the 2006 World Cup, the US needed a result from its second match against Italy.

The Italians won the team's first match against Ghana and were stacked with talent such as Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta, Gianluigi Buffon, and Francesco Totti.

Alberto Gilardino gave the Azzurri a lead in the 22nd minute off of a Pirlo free kick. Just five minutes later the United States responded when Bobby Convey's free kick curled in and Cristian Zaccardo managed to slice the ball into his own net. Three red cards later and the teams walked off the field in Kaiserslautern with a 1-1 draw. Here's how the American players did on June 17th some eight years ago.


Kasey Keller - 8 - Going up against Italy even strength is hard enough, let alone playing a whole half a man down like the US did. Aside from the Italians goal Keller was flawless in net behind the American defense. He made two HUGE saves against Alessandro Del Piero in the 73rd and 79th minute to preserve the draw.


Steve Cherundolo - 8 - The mayor of Hannover had a stunning game on the right side of the American defense. Countless attacks found their way down Cherundolo's flank and countless time he did the job and repelled them. He even got forward well throughout the match despite having to defend so desperately.

Eddie Pope - 3.5 - There is just no way around it, Eddie Pope's performance was painful. It was his job to mark Gilardino on the opening goal and ended up completely losing his man and spending his time lobbying for offside. Then just two minutes into the second half he picked up his second yellow for a silly challenge (whether you agree with the card or not he was silly for doing that on a yellow card).

Oguchi Onyewu - 8.5 - Man of the Match - This night belonged to Onyewu. The hulking center back did everything right with his net under siege for much of the game. He even made a great run forward in the 60th minute that should have resulted in a penalty kick for the US as Nesta handled Onyewu's cross attempt in the box. A key header away late and a last-ditch clearance from three yards out with only a few minutes to go means this man was the main player in keeping the USA's 2006 World Cup dreams alive by earning the draw that evening.

Carlos Bocanegra - 7.5 - The future US captain acquitted himself well in this match, providing physical play on the left that the Italians seemed to hate. He almost had an assist when DaMarcus Beasley put the ball in the net only for it to be called back. Bocanegra did almost head into his own goal, sending it off the crossbar, and was shaky going forward other than the play to Beasley.


Clint Dempsey - 5 - It was a rough day at the office for Mr. Dempsey. He looked lost on the right constantly dropping very deep to receive the ball, and seemed to be out of sync with the players around him, especially Donovan. His two best moves forward saw him send in a good cross that Bobby Convey sent over, and a shot from outside the box that went close but wide. Dempsey tired as the match went on and was replaced by DaMarcus Beasley in the 62nd minute.

Claudio Reyna - 7 - Even at 32, Reyna led the US by example for the full 90 minutes. He led the team going forward throughout the match, his composure on the ball providing just what the team needed. In the second half he coupled that with a huge defensive effort. Reyna was all over the field to break up the Italians attack and proved why he is one of the best US players of all time.

Pablo Mastroeni - 5 - I know what you are thinking, how does someone who got a straight red card get a 5? Well because Mastroeni was one of the United States best three players on the field before he was sent off. He put in great defensive work and disrupted the Italian attack with his physicality. He passed the ball well, switching the field expertly on a few occasions, and almost saw his great long distance shot sneak into the top right corner in the 42nd minute. Whether you agree with the card or not it happened so the point and a half came off for that.

Bobby Convey - 6 - The left winger was active throughout the game going forward. His speed seemed to bother the Italians at times and it was his free kick that was directed in for the own goal. He did send Dempsey's cross over the bar and was substituted in the 52nd minute after the team was sent down to 9 men.


Landon Donovan - 5.5 - My score remains low for Donovan, even after re-watching the second half for the second time in one day to focus on his performance. I felt confident in my rating until I had a conversation on twitter with Steve Davis, who was complementing Donovan and his defensive work from this game. After checking back to make sure, my opinion doesn't change. He was tentative, especially at the start, and gave the ball away repeatedly. He had a couple of good runs and hustled most times on defense but did not see enough to warrant any kind of solid rating. Check out the 79th minute of the game when Del Piero smashes a shot that Keller saves, you can clearly see Donovan walking in the build up and while he's hitting the shot. I don't blame him one bit don't get me wrong, I would be gassed too. All I mean by that point is that if he had had this herculean effort on defense that day, he's not walking on that play.

Brian McBride - 6.5 - Classic McBride in that he did not stop for 90 minutes. Was on an island all alone for much of the game and with being down to nine men his job was no longer to score but to be the first defender. He did the job admirably with the case and point being a slide tackle on Pirlo 25 yards from goal to break up an Italian attack.


Jimmy Conrad - 6.5 - Essentially 40 minutes of the field for Conrad who helped clog up the holes in the American defense in the second half. Was solid throughout his time and did the job asked of him. He was lucky Vincenzo Iaquinta didn't feel like going to ground late in the game when Conrad took a nice big tug on his jersey inside the American box.

DaMarcus Beasley - 5.5 - Was active in his 30 minutes on the field, using his speed to relieve some pressure on a few occasions. Put the ball in the net but the goal was called back for McBride being in an offside position and being active with the ball after the shot.

Kasey Keller, Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, and Claudio Reyna willed the team to a very valuable draw. Meanwhile, Eddie Pope and Pablo Mastroeni are the easy scapegoats, putting their team in a position to play with only nine men for an entire half against the eventual world champions. What a shame that the performances on either side of this match were poor and the US was sent packing from the 2006 World Cup with just one point.

Email (will not appear on the site)


Join the YA Email Alert?

Comments are moderated and will be posted if they are on-topic and free of profanity, abuse and spam. HTML and links are not allowed.