"This team is alive, and that’s where we wanted to be," goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. "It was a total team effort and those guys bled today for our country and our team."
He wasn’t exaggerating.
Forward Brian McBride had three stitches on one cheek from a vicious elbow. A bandage covered where Landon Donovan received intravenous fluid. Jimmy Conrad had cotton stuffed up his nose, also the result of an elbow, and played part of the game with vision so blurry he had to ask a teammate whether he was bleeding.
I am so proud of our team. The loss to the Czech Republic was embarrassing. But the match against Italy was an absolutely amazing effort. Regardless of the cards, fouls, and the fact that we couldn’t jam one home for the win, the USMNT played very well under difficult circumstances. Were mistakes made? Sure. But the USMNT played a very intense match and showed the rest of the world that we CAN play on the international stage. Even if we had lost, it’s so much better to lose a match where you leave it all on the field like yesterday than when you’re tentative and nervous and timid.
It’s no secret that you and I have a troubled relationship. I’ll never love you. I’m completely unfaithful to you, and, well, I’ve been seeing teams in your very group on the side. What can I say? There’s just no chemistry between us. Sometimes I don’t even like you very much, despite the fact that I do like several of your players a lot. But frankly, I’d written you off.
And what did you go and do? You showed–spirit! passion! drama! determination! You refused to give up! You were kind of inspiring! Even down to nine men–nine men!–you held on.