11/20 16:02 CST Stoppage-time goal for Italy in 1-0 win; Pulisic captains US
Stoppage-time goal for Italy in 1-0 win; Pulisic captains US
By The Associated Press
Matteo Politano scored his first international goal in the fourth minute of
second-half stoppage time, and Italy beat the United States 1-0 in an
exhibition on Tuesday night at Genk, Belgium, as 20-year-old Christian Pulisic
became the youngest captain in the modern history of the American team.
In likely the final game for the Americans under interim coach Dave Sarachan,
Ethan Horvath made his first international appearance since January and had
several sprawling saves.
Politano, a 25-year-old winger playing his second match for Italy, broke
through with seconds remaining when he passed to Marco Verratti and sprinted
through the penalty area. The return pass bounced off a defender to Poitano,
who beat Horvath from 8 yards.
Pulisic was the only holdover in the U.S. starting lineup from last Thursday's
3-0 loss at England. At 20 years, 63 days, Pulisic bettered Landon Donovan, who
was 22 years, 220 days when he first captained the Americans in a World Cup
qualifier at El Salvador on Oct. 9, 2004, a match regular captain Claudio Reyna
missed because of a quadriceps injury.
Before last week, Pulisic had played just once for the U.S. since the defeat at
Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017 that ended the Americans' streak of seven
straight World Cup appearances. He took time off from the national team to
concentrate on his club career with Borussia Dortmund in Germany.
Coach Bruce Arena quit after the loss in Trinidad and was replaced by Sarachan,
his top assistant. Sarachan guided the Americans to three wins, five losses and
four ties in 12 exhibitions, giving debuts to 23 players in the transition to a
younger roster ahead of next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and qualifying for the
2022 World Cup. Romain Gall, a 23-year-old midfielder, replaced Pulisic in the
83rd minute and became the latest American to make his debut.
New U.S. general manager Earnie Stewart has said a new coach will be hired
later this year. Columbus Crew coach Gregg Berhalter is the favorite.
Pulisic was moved from wide midfield to forward in a 3-5-2 formation. The new
coach will face the issue of where to deploy Pulisic, who usually is wide for
The U.S. finished with three wins, five losses and three draws in 2018, its
fewest games in a year since going 1-2 in 1987, all that June at the
President's Cup in South Korea. The Americans have one win and three draws in
12 matches against Italy.
Nine of the 11 U.S. starters were 23 or younger, and the lineup's average age
of 22 years, 71 days was an American record low, besting the 22-160 against
Bolivia on May 28.
NOTES: The U.S. will play Costa Rica in an exhibition on Feb. 2 at Avaya
Stadium in San Jose, California.
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