There were no big surprises today as the U.S. Women’s National Team did the expected and defeated Ireland 3-0 on a beautiful Mother’s Day at sun drenched Avaya Stadium.
The only surprise of the match was how long it took the Americans to break down an Irish team that was missing five starters. With the home team dominating possession to such an extent that crossing the midfield stripe was something of a victory for the Republic of Ireland squad the U.S. forced the Mother’s Day crowd to wait until 42 minutes had ticked by to let loose with a pent up roar of emotion.
That it was Abby Wambach who was responsible for that first U.S. goal may be an important development for Jill Ellis’ side with the Women’s World Cup coming up in just about a month, on June 6.
As tends to be the case in mismatches like this, once the first crack appeared in the underdog’s defense, a full on breach was likely.
Sure enough it took just two minutes for Wambach to head home a second U.S. goal, the 180th of her glorious international career, and the brave Irish were in danger of being overrun.
That the onslaught was prevented was due, at least in part to the half time whistle. The Irish also had a game saver in the nets in backup keeper Niahm Reid-Burke, playing because several Ireland regulars were busy with club commitments.
Reid-Burke made several top notch saves, with Christian Press a victim on more than one occasion. Although the U.S. WNT’s 10-0-0 record, now 11-0-0, was never in jeopardy of being sullied by the Irish this afternoon, little was done to alleviate worries surrounding the American attack.
With Alex Morgan sitting out with a bruised knee, neither starter Amy Rodriguez or halftime replacement Sydney Leroux staked a claim on a starting spot. Wambach looked slow and rusty before her two goals, and it is not unfair to ask if the veteran would have been as prolific against a higher level of opposition.
One player who does appear to have made her case for starters minutes next month in Canada is defender Julie Johnston. It is only in recent games that Johnston was thrown into the mix to replace injured veteran Christie Rampone, but the young Chicago Stars defender has quickly adjusted to the international game. Johnston’s goal came from a corner kick, where she has been a consistent threat.
Up next for the U.S. WNT is Mexico, next Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Mexico should prove a sterner test than the Irish, whom the U.S. have now outscored 40-1.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
IRL 0 0 0
USA – Abby Wambach (Christen Press) 42nd minute
USA – Abby Wambach (Carli Lloyd) 45
USA – Julie Johnston (Lauren Holiday) 54
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (16-Lori Chalupny, 46), 19-Julie Johnston, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 22-Meghan Klingenberg (5-Kelley O’Hara, 61); 23-Christen Press, 12-Lauren Holiday (9-Heather O’Reilly, 61), 10-Carli Lloyd (7-Shannon Boxx, 78), 15-Megan Rapinoe (capt.) (14-Morgan Brian, 46); 8-Amy Rodriguez (2-Sydney Leroux, 46), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs Not Used: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 24-Alyssa Naeher, 3-Christie Rampone, 6-Whitney Engen, 13-Alex Morgan, 17-Tobin Heath
Head coach: Jill Ellis
IRL: 16-Niamh Reid-Burke; 17-Aine O’Gorman (capt.), 20-Jessica Gleeson (5-Ciara Grant, 46), 3-Megan Campbell, 6-Meabh De Burca; 11-Julie Ann Russell (12-Ciara Rossiter, 84), 4-Karen Duggan, 19-Fiona O’Sullivan (14-Katie McCabe, 73), 8-Ruesha Littlejohn, 10-Denise O’Sullivan; 9-Stephanie Roche (15-Nicola Sinnot, 90+3)
Subs Not Used: 21-Charlotte McCormack, 7-Emma Hansberry, 18-Emma Beckett
Head coach: Sue Ronan
Stats Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 26 / 0
Shots on Goal: 10 / 0
Saves: 0 / 7
Corner Kicks: 19 / 0
Fouls: 9 / 12
Offside: 4 / 0
IRL – Aine O’Gorman (caution) 19th minute