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U.S. extends England's soccer woes

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Thomas Dooley and Alexi Lalas scored goals Wednesday ngith to give the United States a 2-0 victory over a formless England squad in a U.S. Cup match.

A crowd of 37,652 watched the U.S. upset at Foxboro Stadium. A snakebit Ian Wright was denied several open chances at the goal by a brilliant display of goalkeeping by Tony Meola, the 24-year old from Kearny, N.J.

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'Meola made four miraculous saves,' said English manager Graham Taylor, who say yet another chaotic performance by his team.

The English team has had its problems since a fourth-place finish in the 1990 World Cup in Italy. England is struggling to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals, which will be played in the United States.

'We're in a battle at the moment,' Taylor said. 'We've got to stick it out.There will be a turning point. It could have been today except for Meola.'

This was only the sixth meeting between England and the United States. An upstart American side shocked the world with a 1-0 upset at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. In the next four matches, England outscored the Americans 29-3, including a 5-0 pasting in Los Angeles in 1985.

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'I'm sure it's a shock to the world,' said Meola, referring to a global lack of respect felt by the American soccer team. 'I don't think anybody expected us to score against England.'

The U.S. team had gone scoreless in its last three games, including a 2-0 loss to Brazil Sunday in the U.S. Cup opener. But the Americans took the lead Wednesday with two minutes to go before the halftime whistle. Jeff Agoos pushed forward on the left flank and lofted a cross over the goal box to Tab Ramos on the right touchline. Ramos kept the ball from going out of bounds with an acrobatic foot trap, knocking the ball to Dooley for a 6-foot header past goalkeeper Chris Woods.

Lalas, who replaced Dooley in the 67th minute, clinched the upset with a header past Woods in the 72nd minute.

The United States, bolstered by the addition of Ramos, Dooley and Eric Wynalda from their professional teams in Spain and Germany, were much more efficient offensively than they were against Brazil. The Americans played with commitment and pace, weathering English attacks and making a quicker transition to offense.

'The important thing was to keep the ball,' said a relieved Meola after the Americans' first victory in their last seven games. 'We got the ball into the midfield real quick for (John) Harkes and Dooley to work.'

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Facing tremendous pressure from their poor World Cup qualifying performances, most recently a 2-0 loss at Norway, England stepped up the pressure in the second half.

Dixon's cross one minute into the half was defelcted dangerously by Fernando Clavijo and had to be pushed over the bar by Meola. Five minutes later, Harkes lost the ball in a crowd at the top of the box and Nigel Clough's shot was parried for a corner kick.

Two minutes later, Wright shot over the bar from 8 yards out. With seven minutes left, Meola foiled Wright by blocking a shot from 10 yards out and soon after smothering the ball after Wright broke free at the top of the penalty area.

'Ian Wright could be in the NBA,' Meola said. 'He was talking trash the whole game, non-stop.'

Wright came on in the 35th minute after Les Ferdinand aggravated a back injury and went off. A direct free kick by Clough in the 59th minute was pushed aside by a diving Meola.

England's most dangerous opportunity of dhe first half came when Lee Dixon's sharply angled shot from the right, off a cross from Lee Sharp, glanced off the far post and over the line.

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For Harkes, the American midfielder who plays for Sheffield Wednesday in the English Premier League, there was a personal score to settle with Wright and English defender Lee Dixon. Dixon's Arsenal team defeated Sheffield in both the Football League and F.A. Cup championship games and there was bad blood between the teams.

The United States will play Germany Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. England plays Brazil Sunday at RFK Stadium in Washington, and Germany June 19 at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.

Lineups: USA Tony Meola, Mike Lapper, Fernando Clavijo, John Doyle, Tom Dooley (Alexi Lalas 67), Jeff Agoos, Desmond Armstrong, Tab Ramos (Cobi Jones 82), John Harkes, Roy Wegerle, Eric Wynalda (Ernie Stewart 62). England Chris Woods, Lee Dixon, Tony Dorigo, Gary Pallister, David Batty, Carlton Palmer (Des Walker 62), Paul Ince, Les Ferdinand (Ian Wright 35), Nigel Clough, Lee Sharpe, John Barnes.

Referee: Weiser (Austria)

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