England beats top-ranked Americans 2-1 in London
England beat the U.S. women's team for the first time since 1988 on Saturday, handing the top-ranked Americans a 2-1 exhibition defeat in east London.
Winger Jess Clarke put the home side ahead in the eighth minute at Leyton Orient's Matchroom Stadium and England led 2-0 when Rachel Yankey scored 18 minutes later.
''The pressure on the ball in the first half wasn't good and we were stretched,'' U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said. ''In the second half, we changed that totally and had so much more pressure on the ball.''
Megan Rapinoe got a goal back for the U.S. six minutes before halftime, but England held on for just its second ever win over the Americans and a morale boost ahead of the June 26-July 17 World Cup in Germany.
''We don't take losing lightly, but we also know that there's a bigger picture involved here,'' U.S. forward Abby Wambach said. ''We're playing and training to prepare for the World Cup in Germany. We want to be peaking then. Right now, we're working with different ways of playing, with different people.''
The Americans stepped up the pressure in the second half, but couldn't convert. Christie Rampone had a chance in the 67th minute after England failed to clear a corner kick, but her shot was blocked in front of the goal. Rachel Buehler's attempt on the deflection went over the top of the goal.
The U.S. also had a flurry of chances in the final 15 minutes. Carli Lloyd's free kick from 25 yards out in the 75th minute was blocked by a wall of English players. A minute later, Lloyd's kick was stopped by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who also stopped Alex Morgan's follow.
Morgan sent a shot over the net in the 80th minute and wide left in the 87th.
''England definitely had the run of the play in the first half and that we had the better chances and the run of the play in the second half and they finished more chances than we did,'' Wambach said.
Clarke already had gotten close with a flicked header before she put England ahead with a low, drilled effort from about 10 yards into the left corner. Yankey then collected a pass by Kelly Smith pass on the top left corner of the area before smashing a left-footed drive across goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and into the top right corner.
Rapinoe carried the ball forward herself to fire low past goalkeeper Karen Bardsley for the only goal by the Americans, who withdrew Wambach for Lauren Cheney in the 62nd but could not force a breakthrough.
''We put a lot pressure on, (forced) a lot of turnovers, had a lot of transition,'' Rampone said. ''Unfortunately we didn't get the goal, but it's good to know that we were able to come out and change the game in the second half.''