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April 2, 2011
U.S. Women lose to England, 2-1

Hope Solo returned to action for the first time since last summer, playing the second half of the USAís 2-1 loss to England on Saturday.
Hope Solo returned to action for the first time since last summer, playing the second half of the USAís 2-1 loss to England on Saturday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
LONDON Ė The U.S. Womenís National Team stumbled badly against England on Saturday, surrendering two early goals on the way to their first loss in a friendly match since 2004, 2-1 at Brisbane Road.

England put the U.S. on their heels early, with unanswered goals by Jess Clark in the eighth minute and Rachel Yankey in the 26th. The halftime score could have been even more lopsided, but midfielder Fara Williams struck a free kick off the bar in the 19th minute and another just high in the 32nd.

Megan Rapinoe scored the lone goal for the Americans, with an assist from Shannon Boxx in the 39th.

Clark came up with a loose ball at the top of the six-yard box, and drove a half volley into the left corner.

Englandís second goal was off a classic counterattack. Kelly Smith brought the ball from midfield to the top of the U.S. penalty area before passing left to Yankey. The England winger hit a perfect shot across the goal and into the upper right corner, giving U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart no chance.

The USA struggled to find any attacking rhythm in the first half, but managed to pull back a goal back six minutes before halftime, when Shannon Boxx forced a turnover in midfield and poked the ball to Rapinoe, who took off on a run ran straight up the center of Englandís defense. Rapinoe dribbled to the top of the penalty arc and drilled a low right-footed shot into the left corner of the net for the tenth goal of her international career.

The USA regrouped after the intermission, outshooting England 15-2, but were not able to pick up any ground.

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage made two changes at halftime, sending on Stephanie Cox for Amy LePeilbet and Hope Solo for Nicole Barnhart. It was Soloís first match for the USA since recovering from major shoulder surgery this past fall. She was not forced to make a save as Englandís two shots in the second half were searching efforts from Ellen White and Smith, but her booming kicks helped the U.S. keep the pressure on during the second half.

Sundhage also switched out both forwards during the second half, sending on Lauren Cheney for Abby Wambach, who started her first game for the USA since the Womenís World Cup qualifying two-game series against Italy last November, and Alex Morgan for Amy Rodriguez.

The USA started the second half off well when Rodriguez unleashed a shot from 15 yards in the left side of the penalty box that drew a diving save from England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who is an American with a British father and plays for Sky Blue FC in WPS.

The USA continually won the ball in midfield in the second half and also created six corner kicks. Under intense pressure, England almost gifted the U.S. a goal in the 71st minute off a poor backpass from Rachel Unitt. The ball had too little pace on it and Heather OíReilly swooped in to cut the pass off and find herself in a one-on-one situation with Bardsley, but she agonizingly spun her open shot just outside the left post from inside the penalty area.

The final 15 minutes featured a flurry of U.S. chances. In the 75th minute a Carli Lloyd free kick from 25 yards that seemed headed on frame was blocked by the England wall. One minute later, Lloyd made a nice run dribbling run into right side of box and pounded shot off the chest of Bardsley, who couldnít hold it, but was able to recover in time to knock down Morganís follow up.

The match was the USAís first loss to England since 1988. The USA had won seven and tied one over the last eight games.

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