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USA vs. Italy, 2018 friendly: What we learned

One man’s terrific performance was all for naught.

Colombia v United States - 2016 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Playoff Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Yesterday, the year ended for the United States as they fell 1-0 to Italy in Genk, Belgium. While the USMNT received a great performance from goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, it proved to be worth very little as a stoppage time goal by Italy won them the match at the very last minute. What can we take away from this performance?

Ethan Horvath might be ready to contend for the top spot

What the USMNT has needed is a couple of goalkeepers to push presumed #1 Zack Steffen. Ethan Horvath has come on strong lately for Club Brugge, and now his performance yesterday has fans wondering if he could be the guy to push Steffen in that competition. He may not be rated above Steffen at this point, but performances like these will surely move him up the depth chart. It could be a three-person game of musical chairs with Steffen, Horvath, and Bill Hamid to determine who’s the starter and who’s the capable backup moving forward.

The USMNT has no plan without a permanent head coach

Once again, the USMNT employed a lineup that looked disjointed with tactics that were nonexistent. It’s not on the players, as you could see they were trying their best with the “gameplan” they were given. It’s not even interim head coach Dave Sarachan’s fault either, as he’s done what he can. His job was to bring in young American talent for evaluation so that the player pool could become younger with an eye to the future. His job was not to provide Xs and Os. This is on U.S. Soccer, who has dragged their feet in this process to bring in a permanent head coach. The team has greatly suffered from a production standpoint as a result, and tactically they have been stagnant. A gameplan surely could have helped yesterday against Italy.

Who can be the prolific striker America desperately needs?

We’ve spent the year trying to figure out who can be the man up front who can consistently put balls in the back of the net. The team scored 10 goals in 11 matches this season, were shut out 4 times, and only received goals from Bobby Wood and Josh Sargent from the forward spot. 2019 should have a pronounced focus on consistent scoring from the players who are specifically on the field to do so. Each of the forwards in the player pool should continue to gain confidence with their clubs and find ways to create their shot and finish. In 2019, production from that position will be crucial to the success of the team, especially when they compete in the Gold Cup. Who will take charge?

What were your takeaways against Italy? Hit the comments and let us know.