When soccer experts remember the United States beating England, they almost always refer back to the 1950 World Cup when Joe Gaetjens got only the goal in the match to cause the biggest upset in the history of the tournament when the States won 1-0 in Brazil.
But there was another day that many England fans try to forget. While it wasn’t a World Cup match, it was a significant event. That day was June 9, 1993 in the U.S. Cup.
In the build-up to the 1994 World Cup, hosted in the United States, the US Soccer Federation hosted a summer tournament featuring three of the top soccer nations in the world. Brazil along with Germany, England and the United States competed in the 1993 U.S. Cup. It featured the first international match to be played on artificial turf (see video of England against Germany), but the tournament also featured another massive upset. For the second time in their history, the United States beat England.
The US squad that day was Tony Meola, Desmond Armstrong, Mike Lapper, John Doyle, Jeff Agoos, Fernando Clavijo, Thomas Dooley (Alexi Lalas 69’), John Harkes, Tab Ramos (Cobi Jones 62’), Roy Wegerle, Eric Wynalda (Earnie Stewart 61’). England, meanwhile, had a makeshift squad, which was definitely in transition after the 1990 World Cup and featured: Chris Woods, Lee Dixon, Gary Pallister, Carlton Palmer (Des Walker 61’), Tony Dorigo, David Batty, Paul Ince, Clough, Lee Sharpe, Les Ferdinand (Ian Wright 35’) and John Barnes.
England, managed by Graham Taylor, was still reeling after their miserable performance during Euro 92 in Sweden where England crashed out of the first round and Taylor was called a turnip by a British tabloid newspaper. Twelve months later, England did the unthinkable and lost two nil to the United States.
The United States, managed by Bora Milutinovic, took the lead just before half-time when Thomas Dooley scored for the US of A. Later in the game, Alexi Lalas came on for Dooley and within three minutes scored the second goal of the game and put it out of the reach of England. I remember the game itself, but very little footage of it (if any) can be found online. But I do remember Tony Meola having one of his games of a lifetime that hot summer day.
“This is going to shock a lot of people around the world,” said Meola, who finished with 15 saves. “It’s not often that you can pick up a newspaper and see that the U.S. beat England in soccer. This is huge.”
In response to the loss against England, the British press called England “the laughing stock of international football” and one of the tabloids featured a headline that screamed “Yanks 2 Planks 0!”
That win for the United States was their only one of the tournament. Still, the win helped them end up in third place in the group with England getting the wooden spoon in last place.
Ever since that 2-0 loss to the United States, England has only played the USA three more times. And in fairness to the US team, the country didn’t really show up in those games.
June 12th in Rustenburg will be a different story entirely. There will be no excuses from either side. Both countries have a job to do and a nation on their shoulders. It’s time to take the gloves off and begin the fight. Let’s just hope it’s a memorable occasion.