Know Your History: The 1993 England Upset

By Michael Lewis (JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA) -- In terms of classic U.S.-England confrontations, this one compared with Lexington, Concord, Yorktown and Belo Horizonte.

While it was not put on the same scale as the Americans' upset of the British in the 1950 World Cup, their 2-0 win over England in Foxborough, Mass. on June 9th, 1993 not only surprised their foes and the rest of the World, but also themselves.

"Are we surprised," US midfielder Tab Ramos said at the tine. "Sure, we're surprised. This will be headline news in Europe."

Ramos turned out to be one of the offensive stars of the match, played before a crowd of 37,652 at Foxboro Stadium. He set up both US goals - a header by defender-turned midfielder Thomas Dooley - with two minutes remaining in the first half - and another header by Dooley's replacement, Alexi Lalas in the 72nd minute.

"Nobody expected us to score two goals," said goalkeeper Tony Meola, who made several late saves to preserve the victory. "I don't think anybody expected us to score against England."

Though the US - England games have been about the US winning in 1950 and now again in 1993, there was the not so small matter of the four games in between. Since winning 1-0 in the group stage of the 1950 World Cup, the series had been all England. Until 1993 the Americans had been beaten in four consecutive matches by the English as they were outscored by an obscene 29-4 margin.

But that was then and this was 1993, the year before the US hosted the World Cup and the English stayed home.

"The yoke is off our backs," said Hank Steinbrecher, executive director and general secretary of the US Soccer Federation. "You never have to talk about 1950. It's a monumental one for our country."

Entering the game, both sides had been struggling. England had dropped a devastating 2-0 decision to Norway in a World Cup qualifier a week prior while the US had won only once in 16 matches in 1993. They had been outclassed by Brazil in the previous game, their US Cup opener on June 6th.

Sparked by the additions of three European-based players - Dooley (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Ramos (Real Betis, Spain) and forward Eric Wynalda (Saarbruecken, Germany) - the US wasn't afraid to attack from the early going against England.

"We set the tone in the first half when we frustrated them," Meola said.

Virtually every US fan in attendance would have been content with the Americans leaving the field after the opening 45 minutes with a scoreless tie. The Americans on the field that day had other ideas.

The first goal was a work of art. Jeff Agoos brought the ball down the left wing and crossed it across the penalty area. Ramos got to the ball before it bounded over the touchline. He sent it into the middle of the box for Dooley to head past goalkeeper Chris Woods from six yards out.

Dooley was forced from the match in the 67th minute with a sprained ankle following a collision and US coach Bora Milutinovic replaced him with Lalas. Only five minutes after entering the match, Lalas made an impact with his first touch. Ramos sent a corner kick into the area and Lalas, with his back to the goal, headed the ball home.

"I'm supposed to go up there in the air and every once in a while the ball hits some fiber of my body and goes in," Lalas said.

Then it was up to Meola, who was called on to make several important saves on breakaways in the 83rd and 85th minutes. That included denying high scoring Ian Wright, at the time starring for Arsenal.

"There were absolutely three or four miraculous saves," England coach Graham Taylor said. "Give the keeper credit. There was not much more than Ian Wright can do."

Although Wright tried, with some trash talk directed at Meola.

"Ian Wright can play in the NBA," Meola said. "He did so much trash-talking. He was incredible. He didn't stop for a minute."

Neither did the US National Team on June 9th, 1993.

Michael Lewis covers soccer for the New York Daily News and He can be reached at

One Response to Know Your History: The 1993 England Upset

  1. Great write up, I was amazed that those guys got like $250 bucks for playing and the US World Cup pool could be as high as 20 million just 17 years later. I did a post on it:link to

    the sport has come a long way in the US.