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Califf header provides 1-0 win over England in world championship.

KANO, Nigeria (Monday, April 5, 1999) -- Defender Dan Califf drilled home a header early in the first half to power the United States to a 1-0 decision over England tonight in the opening match for both nations in the FIFA World Youth Championship before 14,500 at Sani Abacha Stadium.

With the victory, the U.S. is tied with Cameroon atop Group E in this under-20 menís event. Cameroon came from behind to defeat Japan, 2-1, with the winner coming in the 89th minute.

The U.S. avenged a 1-0 loss to the British in Australia in 1993, the only other meeting between the sides at this age level. The last time the Americans defeated England in a world championship was the legendary 1-0 win at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.

"I'm very happy with the effort we gave here today," U.S. coach Sigi Schmid said. "We dealt with the pressure of an opening game very well and put England on the defensive early in the match . . . We were very good today and although there is room to improve, I think we'll bring another good performance into the next game.

"The atmosphere here in Kano was great. There were some American fans in the crowd and I'm glad we could hand them this victory."

The U.S. came out strong and in the second minute, midfielder Francisco Gomez whipped a 25-yard free kick that required British goalkeeper Stuart Taylor to go low to his left to make the save. Taylor, who was rarely out of position, kept England in the match by making several stellar saves.

In the 11th minute, however, Gomez hooked a right-footed corner kick into the penalty area. Califf, a 6--foot-2 central defender, got a step inside his marker and hammered his header past Taylor from seven yards.

"What can I say, Francisco (Gomez) sent in a great cross and all I had to do was to finish it off," Califf said. "It was one of the greatest moments of my soccer career. I was just happy to be in the right place at the right time.

"Three points against England is all we could have asked for, and we're happy that we've started this tournament off with an important win against a very good opponent. (But) we're smart enough to know that this win will not guarantee us an easy way in the tournament. We'll have fun with this tonight and start thinking about Japan tomorrow."

Two minutes later, striker Chris Albright nearly scored a goal identical to Califf's on 13 minutes, but his header from another Gomez corner kick went over the crossbar.

In the second half, substitute Shaun Tsakiris made his presence felt in the midfield with Albright, forward Taylor Twellman and wide midfielder Matt Goldsmith the recipients of good scoring chances.

U.S. keeper Tim Howard was called upon to make several key saves to earn the shutout. He stopped a long-range drive by Craig Dudley in the 60th minute and with three minutes to play covered low, driven shot by Greg Lincoln.

"We train every day on staying focused and keeping you concentration," Howard said. "It feels great to not only shutout a very good opponent, but to be in a good position after one game. We still have room to improve, but we'll enjoy this victory for now."

The U.S. will play its final two Group E matches -- versus Japan (April 8) and Cameroon (April 11) -- in Bauchi.

The top two teams in each of the six opening groups, as well as the four best third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16.

United States 1, England 0

Lineups: United States - Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Dan Califf, Carlos Bocanegra, Matt Goldsmith, Nick Garcia, Nick Downing, John Thorrington (Rusty Pierce 70), Francisco Gomez (Shaun Tsakiris 46), Chris Albright, Taylor Twellman (Jamar Beasley 81); England - Stuart Taylor, Ashley Cole, Stephen Wright, Stephen Haslam, Craig Dudley, John Piercy (Greg Lincoln 58), Matthew Etherington, Kevin Nichols (Neil Murphy 84), Richard Cooper, Pablo Vernazza, Adam Oliver (Andrew Johnson 46).

United States - Califf (Gomez) 11.

Shots: United States 11, England 9. Saves: United States 4, England 6. Corner kicks: United States 3, England 3. Fouls: United States 10, England 12. Offside: United States 6, England 2. Yellow card cautions: United States - Califf 69; England - Cole 44, Lincoln 62.

Referee: Mourad Daami (Tunisia). Referee assistants: Taoufik Adjengui (Tunisia), Nathan Krishan (Singapore). Attendance: 14,500 at Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, Nigeria. Weather: Warm, dry, 92 degrees.

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