U.S. stumbles vs. England in friendly

a bending free kick in the fourth minute and a simple finish in the 44th -- was enough to give the visitors the win, though a late goal by New England Revolution midfielder Clint Dempsey made for an exciting finish.

Real Salt Lake defender Eddie Pope was whistled for a foul on Andy Johnson just outside the penalty area shortly after the opening kickoff. Richardson proved that David Beckham isn't the only free kick wizard on the England squad by hitting a dipping, curling left-footed strike into the top corner that gave U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller no chance.

Landon Donovan was unlucky not to level the score in the 20th minute on a free kick of his own. Kansas City Wizards forward Josh Wolff was brought down near the left corner of the box by Wes Brown, setting up the opportunity for the Los Angeles Galaxy striker. Using his right foot, Donovan smashed a swerving effort towards the goal, which beat 'keeper David James. But the Manchester City starter was saved by his right goalpost and England remained on top.

Donovan had a second opportunity to find the net in the 37th minute. Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston started the play on the right flank with a floating ball into the box for Wolff. The Georgia native smartly nodded the ball into Donovan's path, but his strike to the back post scuffed wide of the net.

A mistake by Pope shortly before the break led to Richardson's second goal of the half. Cole took possession of the ball and glided to the top of the penalty area after Pope misjudged the play. Cole then feigned a shot before playing the ball square to his left for Richardson to push past a scrambling Keller.

Another Pope mishap early in the second half could have resulted in a third goal for England. While defending a corner kick, the veteran lunged to get his head on the ball, mistakenly sending it towards his own goal. Keller was there to make the save and eliminate the danger.

The Red, White and Blue picked up the pace with about 20 minutes remaining, some high pressure up top resulting in a few scoring chances. First Ralston had an opportunity at the back post after a cross from Wolff, but the shot went wide. Then Brian McBride, who plays for Fulham FC in the English Premier League, headed on goal but James saved easily. A third chance moments later went by the wayside when Wolff's free kick from 20 yards was blocked by England's defensive wall.

McBride's Fulham teammate, Carlos Bocanegra, replaced Pope in the 73rd minute and six minutes thereafter he helped the U.S. close the gap. Donovan again played a nice free kick into the danger area, which Bocanegra slid to redirect on goal. James kicked away the effort, but it went right to the head of Dempsey, who put it away for his first international goal.

But that was all the offense the U.S. could muster and nearly 50,000 fans saw England take their all-time record over the United States to 6-2-0. The U.S. will continue their World Cup qualifying campaign next Saturday when they host Costa Rica at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. That match can be seen live on ESPN2 with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. They will then take to the road to face Panama four days later on June 8 at 9:30 p.m. ET (tape delayed on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET and at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN2).

Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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