A sparse weekend of action saw Venezia’s Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann as the only Americans to take the field in Italy, both featuring as substitutes in a game the entire team would prefer to forget.
Venezia FC 3 – 4 Hellas Verona
Venezia put on a clinic in how to utterly collapse on Sunday afternoon, blowing an early three-goal lead to come up on the losing end of a barnburner against Hellas Verona.
Just days after both players started in a tough midweek loss at Atalanta, Busio and Tessmann were both on the bench at the game’s start, but saw action as second-half substitutes as coach Paolo Zanetti tried unsuccessfully to hang onto a result in this critical, and winnable game.
Venezia were dealt an early blow when the team’s joint-leading scorer David Okereke was forced out in the seventh minute with an apparent muscle injury, but the team nevertheless charged forward, putting three on the board before the game hit the half-hour mark.
First, central defender Pietro Ceccaroni, who was still in an advanced position after coming up for a corner, tapped in headed pass from Thomas Henry for the 12th minute lead, then Domen Crnigoj added a second when he finished a counter-attack in the 19th minute with a low strike set up by Dennis Johnsen.
Henry bagged a third when he pounced on a miscue by Hellas keeper Lorenzo Montipò in the 27th minute, to put the hosts seemingly on their way to an easy three points.
However, the second half quickly turned into a horror show for the hosts.
Henry scored his second of the game, unfortunately in his own net, in the 52nd minute when he inadvertently headed a corner past his own keeper Sergio Romero.
Smelling the first drops of blood in the water, the visitors went on the attack, bringing the deliciously-named striker Kevin Lasagna into the fold in place of defensive midfielder Miguel Veloso in the 57th minute.
Venezia’s implosion continued two minutes past the hour mark when Ceccaroni was shown an undisputed straight red after blocking a header by David Faraoni with his outstretched arm, with Gianluca Caprari rolling his low spot kick just inside the lower left corner to bring Hellas to within a single goal.
Sensing the danger in asking his tired starters to hang onto a narrow lead with now only ten players left on the field, Zanetti brought in Busio in the 66th minute in a triple-switch. However it backfired, as one of the three substitutes, Michael Svoboda, almost immediately turned the ball over deep in their own territory, setting up Hellas striker Giovanni Simeone for an easy finish to pull even.
Tessmann was the Zanetti’s final substitute with 16 minutes in regulation, entering for Antonio Junior Vacca to try to lock down at least the draw, however Hellas struck again with five minutes to go.
Lasagna fought off Svoboda to gain control of a long ball into Venezia’s territory, and laid it off to Simeone, who advanced to a center position around 20 yards out and unleashed a highlight-reel blast to the upper left corner of Romero’s goal for the winner.
In the closing seconds, as Venezia pushed for a winner, there was a weak shout for a handball infraction on the visitors as a backheel flick by Tessmann hit Faraoni on the shoulder. However, referee Alessandro Prontera correctly ignored it, and was backed up by a short VAR review, with the final whistle confirming the disaster for Venezia seconds later.
The result leaves Venezia in 16th place, still five points clear of the relegation places pending the outcome of Monday-night games, but ruing what should have been an additional three points on the board.
They face another tough task when they next take the field on Saturday against Weston McKennie and visiting Juventus.
Weston McKennie is still recovering from a minor knee injury, and sat out of Juventus’s 2-0 victory at home against relegation strugglers Genoa on Sunday evening.
Bryan Reynolds was an unused substitute for Roma on Saturday as they continued their fall away from the Champions League spots, this time in a 3-0 home loss to Inter. Reynolds was called by Gregg Berhalter into the USMNT camp just getting underway in Carson, California, however it is yet to be seen whether he will report immediately, or following their final Europa Conference League game at Sofia on Thursday.
Andrija Novakovich was an unused substitute for Frosinone on Saturday, as they were forced to play the final hour with only ten men on the field in a 1-1 draw at home against Ternana.
Giuseppe Barone was not in uniform for Ascoli on Sunday afternoon in their scoreless draw at home against Parma.