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Liga MX
By ESPN Staff

Arena: Keller needs mighty match against Italy

United States coach Bruce Arena has put the onus on goalkeeper Kasey Keller to lead his team to World Cup victory over Italy on Saturday afternoon.

The Borussia Monchengladbach stopper was criticised by Arena after the Americans' 3-0 opening Group E defeat by the Czech Republic and, according to the head coach, it is time to make amends.

'I expect Kasey to come up big for us against Italy,' said Arena.

'I know he is ready to make a big save to help us win and there will be nothing better for him.'

The 36-year-old Keller set a national record by keeping eight clean sheets in World Cup qualifying but was badly exposed against the Czechs.

That defeat left the Americans needing a win against three-time world champions Italy in order to have a realistic chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

Arena blamed Keller's poor clearance and not his team's defence for the Czechs' opening goal on Monday.

'I think he made one save against the Czech Republic,' said Arena.

'I know he will be busy against Italy and I eagerly hope to see him perform.'

Arena has no doubt Keller's experience will be invaluable as the former Tottenham goalkeeper aims to stand strong against the likes of Italian attacking trio Luca Toni, Alberto Gilardino and Francesco Totti.

Alongside national team captain Claudio Reyna, Keller is the only American to have been named in four World Cup squads for the US.

'He has had an awesome club career in different countries,' Arena said.

'Kasey is statistically the most successful keeper in US history and he was voted the best US athlete in 2005 - the first male player in US history to win his third Athlete of the Year award.'