United States 1 England 2
United States: Dempsey 79
England: Richardson 4, 44
Half-time: 0-2 Attendance: 45,000
Nothing in Kieran Richardson's season will have prepared him, or us, for this. The 20-year-old spent the first half of the campaign playing at Altrincham for Manchester United reserves and the second half fighting relegation for West Bromwich Albion. A quiet summer beckoned until he received a late summons to Sven Goran Eriksson's depleted England squad. Yesterday he made the most spectacular England debut for 30 years scoring at each end of the first period as England secured their first win on American soil since 1985.
In the city where the skyscraper was born England suffered a blow prior to kick-off when the human tower, Peter Crouch, failed a fitness test. The Southampton striker, who was in line to make his international debut, incurred a foot injury when Sol Campbell, the new captain, trod on him in training on Friday afternoon. It is hoped he will be able to play against Colombia on Tuesday.
Alan Smith took his place, leaving Richardson as the only debutant. His team-mate in Manchester United's reserves, Jonathan Spector, was one of the five English-based players in the US squad, though only Fulham's Brian McBride started.
Soldier Field, being "dedicated to the armed forces", was an appropriate venue for a match being played on Memorial Day weekend, America's counterpart to Remembrance day. The oldest stadium in the NFL (the Bears play here), where Jack Dempsey beat Gene Tunney in their second world heavyweight fight, has been spectacularly remodelled since Diana Ross failed to reach the goal when "kicking out" the 1994 World Cup.
With three-quarters of the ground occupied, a significant part of it by English tourists and expats, there was a good atmosphere, which intensified with the lively start. After three minutes Eddie Pope fouled Andy Johnson on the edge of the US area. Richardson, from a two step run-up, curled the kick over the wall and inside Kasey Keller's left-hand post. It was thought to be the fastest England goal on debut since Bill Nicholson scored inside a minute against Portugal in 1951. England won 5-2 but Nicholson, who later managed Spurs with distinction, never played again.
The Americans recovered quickly taking advantage of poor English passing to press the defence. Though David James and Campbell made telling clearances neither looked comfortable, with Campbell caught in possession by Josh Wolff and James, on his return to the team after nine months out, lucky to escape a horrendous error after 19 minutes. Wes Brown conceded a free-kick on the left, which was taken by Landon Donovan. James came out to punch clear but missed the ball which struck the far post.
Though Joe Cole tested Keller from 20 yards the Americans continued to look the brighter side. They ought to have levelled after 37 minutes when Brown and Campbell lost their men, enabling Wolff to head Steve Ralston's cross down to Donovan only for the latter to shoot wide. Though Smith responded by driving past the post it was still a surprise when England scored again. Andy Johnson's flick released Joe Cole, who dummied inside then squared for Richardson to become the first man to score twice on debut for England since David Johnson, then of Liverpool, against Wales in 1975.
The interval came almost immediately, which will have been a relief to both sides. While Bruce Arena had to lift his mugged team Eriksson needed to have words with Glen Johnson. The Chelsea defender had twice squared up to American defenders, pushing Greg Vanney and lunging in on Cory Gibbs. In a competitive environment he could easily have been dismissed. Smith had also been over-aggressive, though only Ashley Cole and Pope had been booked.
The only change Eriksson made at the break appeared to be enforced, Zat Knight coming on for his debut in place of Campbell who suffered an ankle injury. Andrew Johnson had looked off the pace but he showed some better touches in the second period setting up Joe Cole, only for the Chelsea player to blaze over, then breaking on to a Jermaine Jenas pass and forcing Keller into a near-post save. From the subsequent corner Knight, Fulham's first England cap since George Cohen, brought another save from the former Spurs goalkeeper.
England were now on top but had to re-organise when Richardson, then Ashley Cole limped off. Phil Neville went to left back with Smith adding his brand of belligerence to the midfield. With America taking control Eriksson shuffled his dwindling resources again handing Luke Young a debut with Smith moving back up front, Neville into midfield and Johnson to left-back. With England losing shape the Americans took advantage after another foul by Brown. Donovan's deep free-kick found Carlos Bocanegra and though James saved with his foot Clint Dempsey followed up to score.Reuse content