England defeats USA in women’s soccer, 2-1, ending Americans’ 52-game unbeaten streak in friendlies

England scored two early goals and surprised the U.S. women’s national team, 2-1, Saturday in London, the Americans’ first loss in a friendly match since 2004 and a troubling result less than three months before the World Cup in Germany.

The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world, had not lost to a European opponent on European soil in 13 previous visits under Coach Pia Sundhage and had outscored 10th-ranked England 23-1 in the prior six meetings. A crowd of 5,801 witnessed this match at Leyton Orient’s grounds.

The last time the Americans lost a friendly was in November 2004 against Denmark, a stretch of 52 matches. All losses since then had come in tournaments. England hadn’t beaten the United States since 1988.

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In the first encounter between the nations since the Americans’ 3-0 quarterfinal victory at the 2007 World Cup in China, Jess Clarke scored in the eighth minute and Rachel Yankey struck in the 27th before U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe converted from 23 yards just before halftime. Heather O’Reilly missed a clear equalizing opportunity in the 71st minute and Alex Morgan had three quality chances late.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo played the second half, her first appearance since recovering from shoulder surgery last fall.

The Americans will continue their World Cup preparations with a pair of matches against Japan: May 14 in Columbus, Ohio, and May 18 in Cary, N.C.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.

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