USA vs. Italy: Americans Must Not Let Win over Azzurri Go to Their Heads

Wes ODonnell@wesodonnellFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2012

GENOA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 29:  Clint Dempsey of USA celebrates the opening goal during the international friendly match between Italy and USA at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The US men's national team finally got the job done against a former World Cup winner with their 1-0 win over Italy Wednesday.

Not only that, but the US finally showed the ability to be competitive on European soil. In November, the US knocked off the Slovenians in Slovenia and now add a win over the Italians in Italy to their resume—their first bit of consistency overseas.

Stretching back to the November 15 Slovenia win, Jurgen Klinsmann's squad has won four straight games, all of which have been decided by only one goal.

It is an impressive feat considering how slowly things started for the German as head coach, but it appears his players are finally buying into the system.

Well, Clint Dempsey is anyway.

With Landon Donovan missing duty for the eighth straight time, it was the streaking Dempsey who put the US ahead for good against the Azzurri off a feed from Jozy Altidore. Dempsey has been Klinsmann's most consistent player when in the lineup, but he's yet to play with Donovan under the German's rule.

Eventually, that will happen and the two will need to get on the same page or the USMNT will suffer a setback they cannot afford.

They also cannot afford to let this win go to their head. Although battling a few key injuries, the US was far from perfect and defeated an even more depleted Italian squad. The one thing the Azzurri couldn't do was fall behind because they were playing without a number of their key strikers, including American-born Giuseppe Rossi.

Once that happened, the Italians had to go on all-out attack mode. They ripped off five times the amount of the shots as the Americans, took four times the number of corner kicks and owned the ball over 20 percent longer.

Fortunately, the US still has Tim Howard in the net, and he made seven saves on the day.

It was a historic win for the American squad, but it was only a friendly and another step in a long run this squad has to make.

They can enjoy it now, but they need to keep working if they want to be a competitor in the 2014 World Cup.