Italy's preparations for UEFA EURO 2012 suffered a setback as Cesare Prandelli's experimental side were beaten by the United States for the first time.
Clint Dempsey's strike ten minutes into the second half proved the difference between as the hosts struggled to break down an obdurate American outfit. The 2006 FIFA World Cup winners have now suffered two successive defeats having also lost 2-1 to Uruguay in November.
Italy had got off to a promising start, with Tim Howard required to race out of goal and thwart Alessandro Matri and Sebastian Giovinco in the early stages. In the sixth minute the Everton FC goalkeeper also made a superb reflex save from Thiago Motta, who ghosted into the area after a lightning raid down the right flank by Christian Maggio.
Save for an 11th-minute attempt which Brek Shea dragged wide from the edge of the area, the United States threatened little. Jürgen Klinsmann's 4-1-4-1 formation frustrated the Azzurri, however, and the first half was marked only by sporadic touches of sublime skill from Giovinco, who tested Howard's handling midway through the opening period.
Domenico Criscito, on 37 minutes, and Motta, on the stroke of half-time, also tried their luck from range but Howard was equal to their efforts. At the other end, Gianluigi Buffon's hands were warmed by Dempsey's fierce free-kick.
The Americans took the lead against the run of play when Dempsey pounced on a lapse in the home defence. The Fulham FC man stepped in after Andrea Barzagli failed to control a long ball and angled a low 20-metre shot past Buffon.
Prandelli responded by throwing Giampaolo Pazzini and Fabio Borini into the fray and the two combined well to carve out a chance for the AS Roma striker, who was denied by Howard. Pazzini, meanwhile, headed over after being picked out by his former Atalanta BC youth team-mate Riccardo Montolivo.
Klinsmann's side found themselves forced further and further back and Howard again had to be at his best to keep out Ignazio Abate, as well as Borini, who cleverly worked space for a shot. Giorgio Chiellini headed over and Montolivo fired just wide in the final frantic throes, but the transatlantic tourists prevailed.