I remember the last time the United States played Italy. It was in Kaiserslautern at the 2006 World Cup and the US really needed something from the game having slumped to a first-game defeat against a very impressive Czech side. The Americans were more thanĀ a match for their illustrious opponents and created enough chances to have won the game. Of course, the most memorable incident in that match was Daniele De Rossi’s horrible elbow on Brian McBride that left blood pouring from our hero’s face.

Revenge was on the mind of the Americans last night as that draw probably cost them a place in the second round (they could have done with playing better against Ghana in their final game too). Italy were far from convincing last night as the States, with Clint Dempsey featuring, manfully pressed them back. The out-of-sorts world champions looked to have benefited from a debatable refereeing decision when a late challenge from Ricardo Clark was incredibly punished with a red card.

The loss of a man didn’t seem to deter Bob Bradley’s side and they duly went ahead when Landon Donovan converted a spot-kick after Jozy Altidore was felled in the box. The US should have had a second penalty in the second half, but the decision wasn’t forthcoming. Adding insult to injury, New Jersey’s very own Giuseppe Rossi stepped off the bench to score two goals for the Italians and a strike from De Rossi was sandwiched inbetween.

The harsh nature of the defeat – questionable decisions aside the USA didn’t deserve to lose 3-1 – makes qualifying for the semi-finals a very tall order indeed.