England’s Last Loss to the United States

No, not 1950. 9 June 1993 in Foxboro, as US Soccer Players reminds us today, in the first game of the World Cup warmup U.S. Cup tournament:

While it was not put on the same scale as the Americans’ upset of the British in the 1950 World Cup, their 2-0 win over England in Foxborough, Mass. on June 9th, 1993 not only surprised their foes and the rest of the World, but also themselves.

“Are we surprised,” US midfielder Tab Ramos said at the tine. “Sure, we’re surprised. This will be headline news in Europe.”

Ramos turned out to be one of the offensive stars of the match, played before a crowd of 37,652 at Foxboro Stadium. He set up both US goals – a header by defender-turned midfielder Thomas Dooley – with two minutes remaining in the first half – and another header by Dooley’s replacement, Alexi Lalas in the 72nd minute.

“Nobody expected us to score two goals,” said goalkeeper Tony Meola, who made several late saves to preserve the victory. “I don’t think anybody expected us to score against England.”

The funny thing is, in England, I don’t really remember anyone being particularly surprised about it: faith in Graham Taylor’s England by then was very low amongst the media and public. At least, I remember watching it an television and not being surprised. England were bloody awful in 1993, and everyone knew it. Just a couple of weeks earlier, England’s doomed qualification campaign for the 1994 World Cup had hit the rocks: a lucky 1-1 tie in Poland thanks to a late goal was followed by a 2-0 defeat to Norway, England absolutely outclassed by a team comprised of some very mediocre Premier League players.

As James Corbett writes in his book England Expects (full review forthcoming), England’s defeat to the United States just a week after that debacle “had an aura of inevitability”: England were, as was obvious to all in the old world, dispirited, disjointed and dreadful.

That’s not to take anything away from another historic victory for the U.S. on 9 June 1993.

Curiously, England turned it around somewhat after that result, perhaps the nadir they needed: they played pretty well against Brazil and Germany in the two games that followed in the U.S. Cup, then played outstandingly against Poland when World Cup qualifying resumed in the autumn, before returning to being bloody awful and sitting out the following’s summer’s World Cup.

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