England U-21s 1-0 USA U-23s: Defeat in England as Olympic qualifying looms

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With 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship now less than a month away, the US under-23 national team kicked off one final set of friendlies ahead of their 2016 Olympics qualifying campaign with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the England U-21 national team on Thursday.

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The Americans’ first quality chance came in the 20th minute, when Mario Rodriguez won the ball 35 yards out from England’s goal, worked himself a bit of space ahead of the England backline and hit a low, bouncing shot that Jordan Pickford pushed around his left-hand post at full stretch.

In the 26th minute, Cody Cropper made a big save to keep the score level at 0-0. Fulham striker Cauley Woodrow, who was actually in an offside position, was fed into acres of space inside the Americans’ penalty area, where he would unleash a well-hit shot from eight yards out. Cropper, now a Milton Keynes Dons player, stood tall and blocked the shot with his chest.Minutes later, Woodrow went inches wide when he redirected a cross from the left wing that was tipped just wide by American defender Shane O’Neill.

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James Wilson provided England’s breakthrough at long last, when the Three Lions took a quick free kick inside the Yanks’ half of the field, which resulted in a slow-rolling through ball that narrowly eluded two American defenders and goalkeeper Zack Steffen and fell to the Manchester United striker right on the doorstep with an empty net.

The US U-23 squad will now face Qatar on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Gigg Lane in Bury, England, in what will be their final tune-up before Olympic qualifying begins on Oct. 1. The Americans were drawn into Group A alongside Canada, Cuba and Panama.