Giuseppe Rossi captains Italy

Updated: November 17, 2010, 7:29 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

KLAGENFURT, Austria -- New Jersey-born forward Giuseppe Rossi wore the captain's armband for the first half of Italy's exhibition game against Romania.

Italy's experimental lineup needed an 82nd-minute own-goal by Ciprian Marica to salvage a 1-1 draw in a match marred by racist taunts directed at Azzurri forward Mario Balotelli.

With Italy trailing at the half, Rossi was substituted for Alberto Gilardino.

Coach Cesare Prandelli rested several regular starters, and Rossi was the starter with the most appearances for the Azzurri, this marking his 18th game.

Rossi was born to Italian parents in Teaneck, N.J., and raised in Clifton. While he would have been virtually assured a spot on the U.S. national team, Rossi always wanted to play for Italy.

Italy striker Balotelli, who was born in Italy but is of Ghanian descent, was jeered every time he touched the ball in neutral Austria -- with the taunts coming from a group of about 100 extreme right-wing Italian fans at the match.

Stuttgart striker Marica put Romania ahead in the 34th with a shot from the edge of the area. He then scored at the other end following a corner from Andrea Pirlo.

With Fabio Cannavaro having retired from the national team after the World Cup, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will become Italy's regular captain when he returns from back surgery in a few months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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