The United States Women beat the Republic of Ireland 1-0 in a friendly Tuesday night at City Park in St. Louis, with 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson starting and playing the full 90 minutes.
Alana Cook scored from long range at the end of the first half with the game’s only goal as the United States edged Ireland for the second time in three days.
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Vlatko Andonovski’s side beat the same opponents 2-0 in a friendly on Saturday but victory came at a cost when star striker Mallory Swanson ruptured his patellar tendon and required surgery on Tuesday.
Swanson was the leading scorer for the USA this year, with seven goals. She scored in six straight games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in team history.
“I think in the last year, I’ve seen a lot of players get injured and we’ve managed to adapt,” said forward Len Williams, who was an unused substitute on Tuesday. “I think that’s what the team will continue to do, is continue to adapt. Mal’s absence is a huge gap to fill, but we have great players in this squad and we’ll figure out a way to do that.”
With Swanson out, Andonovsky and the 2023 USA NWSL #1 draft pick called up Thompson and she was given the start alongside veteran Alex Morgan and 2022 NWSL MVP Sophia Smith in the Americans’ front three line.
The hosts dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead just before half-time as Cook’s long pass from outside the box went over the head of Irish goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan and into the net.
“No matter who is injured, this is a difficult moment because their careers and futures are affected and the team is affected,” Andonovsky said. “Mal is arguably one of the best players in the world. It’s unfortunate what happened, but I think the team is doing a good job and they motivate and bond over unfortunate things like this.”
St. Louis and American captain Becky Sauerbrunn, a close quarterback on the World Cup team, gave way to Terna Davidson with half an hour to go and was greeted with a standing ovation as the hometown crowd celebrated the 200th cap of her career.
Sauerbrunn, who has now appeared in 216 matches, nearly scored her first national team goal early in the game from a layup by Smith and was subbed off in the 28th minute as she had a game with NWSL side, the Portland Thorns, on Friday.
And Julie Ertz and Ashley Hatch entered after the break, with the former trying to make her way on the plane to Australia and New Zealand after long absences due to injury and the birth of a child, and despite not currently playing for one of the club’s ranks.
The home team continued to have better possession of the ball and looked more dangerous, but failed to score in the second 45th minute and had to win by a single goal.
“I’m happy to be here, and I can control what I can control,” Thompson said after her first start with the national team. “I will do my best to move forward and see what happens.”
The United States will face the Netherlands, Portugal and Vietnam in Group E, with all three of their matches taking place in New Zealand. Before kick-off on Tuesday, US Soccer announced that the team’s final game before the World Cup kicks off will be a friendly against Wales on July 9 in San Jose, California.
“We all understand that we have a job to do after this now and we have to prepare for the World Cup,” Andonovsky said. “We have to prepare and we have to do something. And if there is a team that has a group of players willing to step in at the moment, that is that team.”
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