In their final match of 2018, the United States Men’s National Team fell 1-0 to Italy. The match was a scrappy, sloppy battle in Belgium. The Azzurri dominated possession and controlled the match. Only Ethan Horvath’s heroics in goal kept the match from becoming a multi-goal victory for the Azzurri.
GlobeBull: Adams and Long Go the Full 90 in Sloppy Loss to Italy
Rolling out a 3-5-2, the U.S. found themselves consistently pegged to five in the back. Dropping deep left a number of gaps between the lines for Italy to play through. Dave Sarachan’s side lacked fluidity in transition and surrendered 74% possession to their European opposition.
Italy finally broke the deadlock in second half stoppage time. A simple passing play saw Roberto Gagliardini slip a pass between the American back line to set Matteo Politano up for Italy’s deserved game winning goal.
New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long played as the left center back of the squad’s back three. For the majority of the match, Long looked uncomfortable dealing with Kevin Lasagna’s runs and covering for a disappointing performance by Shaq Moore. In the second half, Long handed two opportunities to the Italians having scuffed a clearance and failing to ensure an over hit cross went out of bounds.
Tyler Adams was a small bright spot for the Stars and Stripes, but he could nothing to prevent the dominance of a more talented Italian midfield. There was no communication on when and where to press Italy in the middle third of the field. With the fullbacks pushed back, Marco Verratti and Stefano Sensi were able to flood the center of midfield. Adams’ individual pressure forced a turnover every now and again, but the team stayed too far into their own half to make any counter attack worth wild.
Long and Adams will return to the NYRB squad after this break to prepare for the upcoming first leg of the Eastern Conference Final against Atlanta United. The match is set to kickoff on Sunday at 5PM EST at Mercedes Benz Arena.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography