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May 31, 1992 – Italy 0:0 Portugal, U.S. Cup at Yale Bowl (Att.: 38,833)

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The Azzurri had their first look at the New England area, and would return two years later for World Cup second round and quarterfinal matches.

This game was played in a rainstorm and organizers had had to put things together quickly. I recall FIGC president Antonio Mattarese entering the press box and taking notice of water dripping onto the cold cuts table of the pre-game “spread.” Pretty certain questions were raised about planning for the ’94 World Cup.

But fans were enthusiastic about the U.S. Cup, and the tournament gave them a taste of high level international competition. This was also a preview of World Cup qualifying, the Italians slipping through with a 1-0 win over Portugal in Milan on the final day, Nov. 17, 1993.

The Azzurri lodged at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence and trained at Brown University, spending the evening of June 3, 1992 in a celebration in the North End. Walter Zenga declined to participate in the Boston festa, nor would be return with Italy in ‘94. But Zenga did get to Boston at the end of his career, playing for the New England Revolution in 1997 and ’99 (he also began his coaching career as the team’s interim coach in late 1998). Italy then blanked Ireland, 2-0, in a match that kicked off at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 4 (time set for European television). Giuseppe Signori (17th) minute gave Italy the lead and Milan’s Alessandro “Billy” Costacurta added a 67th-minute penalty kick. The match marked Zenga’s final international.

May 31, 1992 – Italy 0:0 Portugal, U.S. Cup at Yale Bowl, New Haven, Conn. (38,833)

June 4, 1992 – Italy 2:0 Ireland, U.S. Cup at Foxboro Stadium (34,797)

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