Discipline key in Italy win 

February, 29, 2012

The opening moments of the U.S. match against Italy in Genoa looked as if some bleak history might repeat itself. The Yanks, who had never won against the Azzurri, let alone on Italian soil, were getting carved up by Andrea Pirlo's pinpoint passes over the top and through the middle of the U.S. defense, and the Americans survived three good scoring chances in the first five minutes.

But as the game wore on, Jurgen Klinsmann's squad responded not just with its trademark determination, but with something else in the historic 1-0 victory: organization.

It started with central midfielders Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu. The two often settled deep in front of the U.S. back four, in what Klinsmann refers to as a "double 6" formation, and the rangy, athletic pair squeezed space on the Italians' frequent forays into the U.S. third.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.