The U.S. win over England avenges the only other meeting between the two nations in a world youth championship; England handed the U.S. a 1-0 loss at the '93 tournament in Australia. The last time a U.S. team defeated England in a world championship was the legendary 1-0 win at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
"I'm very happy with the effort we gave here today," said U.S. head coach Sigi Schmid. "We dealt with the pressure of an opening game very well and put England on the defensive early in the match."
The U.S. forced the play in the opening minutes of the match, causing numerous problems in the England half of the field. After two minutes, Francisco Gomez whipped a free kick from 25 yards into the area, but England 'keeper Stuart Taylor was well-positioned to go low to his left to make the save. Taylor, who was rarely out of position, kept England in the match by making several stellar saves.
But after 11 minutes the Americans took the lead through Califf. Francisco Gomez hooked a right- footed corner kick into the penalty area, where the 6-foot-2 central defender, who got a step inside his marker, hammered his header past Taylor from seven yards.
"I was just happy to be in the right place at the right time," said Califf. "Three points against England is all we could have asked for, and we're happy that we've started this tournament off with an important win against a very good opponent."
The momentum lifted the U.S., who continued to string passes together throughout the half. England, content to play a low-pressure game after the goal, allowed the U.S. defense and Steve Cherundolo in particular, to play numerous probing balls out of the back. Forwards Chris Albright and Taylor Twellman were the recipients of most of these passes and spent most of the half causing havoc on the English.
Albright nearly scored a goal identical to Califf's on 13 minutes, but his header from another Gomez corner kick went over the crossbar.
In the second half, substitute Shaun Tsakiris' presence in the midfield provided more U.S. scoring opportunities. The 5-foot-9 midfielder unbalanced defenders with his ball-handling skills and supplied pinpoint crosses to Twellman, Albright and wide midfielder Matt Goldsmith.
As the match ticked away, U.S. netminder Tim Howard was called upon to make several key saves to earn the shutout. Howard stopped a long-range drive by Craig Dudley in the 60th minute and with three minutes to play covered low, driven shot by Greg Lincoln.
"We train every day on staying focused and keeping you concentration," said Howard. "It feels great to not only shutout a very good opponent, but to be in a good position after one game. We still have room to improve, but we'll enjoy this victory for now."
The U.S. Under-20 team will play its final two Group E matches - versus Japan (April 8) and Cameroon (April 11) - in Nigerian city of Bauchi. The top two teams in each of the six opening groups, as well as the four best third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16 in Nigeria.
In the first Group E match of the day, Cameroon scored two second-half goals to shock Japan, 2-1. The technically superior Japanese team were unfortunate not to score more than once. Cameroon looked out disheartened and beaten in early stages of the second half, but a Japanese own goal put the African team back in the match. Then, almost unbelievably, Cameroon scored the winner in the final minutes to steal the win.
1999 U.S. MEN'S UNDER-20 NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's U-20 National Team vs. England U-20s|
|Competition:||1999 FIFA World Youth Championship|
|Venue:||Sani Abacha Stadium (Kano, Nigeria)|
|Date:||April 5, 1999; 7:00 p.m. kickoff (local time)|
|Weather:||Warm and dry - 92 degrees|
USA - Dan Califf, (Gomez), 11.
USA - Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Dan Califf, Carlos Bocanegra, Matt Goldsmith, Nick Garcia, Nick Downing, John Thorrington (Rusty Pierce, 70), Francisco Gomez (Shaun Tsakiris, 46), Chris Albright, Taylor Twellman (Jamar Beasley, 81).
ENG - Stuart Taylor, Ashley Cole, Stephen Wright, Stephen Haslam, Craig Dudley, John Piercy (Greg Lincoln, 58), Matthew Etherington, Kevin Nichols (Neil Murphy, 84), Richard Cooper, Pablo Vernazza, Adam Oliver (Andrew Johnson, 46).
|Ashley Cole (caution)||44,|
|Greg Lincoln (caution)||62,|
|Dan Califf (caution)||69.|
Group E - Matches played in Kano and Bauchi, Nigeria
Note: The top two teams in each of the six opening groups, as well as the four best third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16.
|Date||No.||Match||Venue||Local Time||Eastern Time||Result|
|4-5-99||9||Cameroon vs. Japan||Kano||4 p.m.||10 a.m.|
|10||England vs. United States||Kano||7 p.m.||1 p.m.|
|4-8-99||21||Cameroon vs. England||Kano||4 p.m.||10 a.m.|
|22||Japan vs. United States||Bauchi||7 p.m.||1 p.m.|
|4-11-99||33||Cameroon vs. United States||Bauchi||4 p.m.||10 a.m.|
|34||Japan vs. England||Bauchi||7 p.m.||1 p.m.|