PRETORIA, South Africa -- Three quick thoughts after Italy's come-from-behind 3-1 victory (RECAP) against the U.S. in the Confederations Cup:
• How long will Giuseppe Rossi torment the United States? First Rossi, a 22-year-old Clifton, N.J., native, crushed U.S. fans by choosing to play for Italy instead of the Americans. Then Monday it was -- who else? -- Rossi, whose two goals sparked Italy's second-half comeback. Rossi didn't even start the game, but he was a menace on the right side and in the middle during the second half. Look out, folks: This kid has the makings of the best U.S.-born forward ever. Too bad he's playing for the Azzurri.
• Ricardo Clark's controversial red card changed the game. It was no coincidence that both of Italy's goals came on long blasts from the center of the field with no U.S. players pressuring the shooters. There's no way Clark would have left that much space if he had been on the field. Chilean ref Pablo Pozo sent off Clark late in the first half for a late challenge on Gennaro Gattuso, a call that reminded me a lot of Pablo Mastroeni's straight red against Italy in the 2006 World Cup. Like Mastroeni's red card, the call on Clark seemed harsh at first, but as replays showed, you can't follow through like that and give the referee a reason to send you off.
• A gallant loss is still a loss. Give the 10-man U.S. a ton of credit for refusing to give up after Clark's red card and even taking a 1-0 lead into halftime on Landon Donovan's spot kick (after Jozy Altidore had earned a penalty). As we learned in '06, the U.S. has a way of frustrating the Italians, clogging up the midfield and using its athleticism and strength to make life difficult. But it was a tall order for the Yanks to keep that up for 90 minutes while down a man, and the dam broke in the second half. Still, there are no moral victories in soccer, and now the U.S. finds itself with zero points, a minus-2 goal differential and a suspended Clark for Thursday's game against Brazil. Look for José Francisco Torres to start against the Brazilians.
What are your thoughts on the game? Check back in a bit for post-game reaction from the teams....
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