The Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team were well beaten by the World Champions
The Republic of Ireland Women's National Team were beaten 5-0 by World Champions USA at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in front of a crowd of 23,309 on Saturday night.
Four of the goals came in the first half with FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, claiming a hat-trick inside the first 28 minutes while Alex Morgan, making her 100th appearance for the USA, got the fourth on the stroke of half-time.
The Irish played much better in the second half and created several goalscoring opportunities and pressing the World Cup holders higher up the pitch, but the damage had been done in the first half.
The opening goal came in the sixth minute from a throw-in which caught the Irish defence unawares, and when Morgan pulled the ball back across the face of goal, Lloyd had a simple tap in from close range.
Lloyd grabbed the second also, showing tremendous bravery to head home the rebound from an Emma Byrne save even though she took a bang in the head from Louise Quinn in the process.
Lloyd was on target again after she was alive to an under-hit back pass from Diane Caldwell as she completed her hat-trick.
Ireland were also caught napping for the fourth before the break as a header from Lloyd struck the post and rebounded across the face of goal leaving Morgan with a tap in.
Debutant Mallory Pugh headed home from close range seven minutes from time to round off the scoring, after Ireland manager Sue Ronan rang the changes at half time.
Ireland were most dangerous from the long throws of Megan Campbell, who caused panic in the opposition penalty area on a number of occasions.
The Americans got the only goal of the second half when Christen Press pulled the ball back for debutante 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, who timed her run from midfield to perfection and headed past Emma Byrne in goal from six yards out.
Speaking after the match, Ronan said: “Even though we were playing the best team in the world I was very disappointed at half time with the manner in which we conceded the four goals. There were some basic defensive errors that you will not get away with at this level and we were punished. Having said that, I was pleased with the response of the team in the second half when we tried to take the game to the Americans".
Next up for Ireland is a meeting behind closed doors in Los Angeles with the USA U23 squad on Monday, before heading four games at the Cyprus Cup in March and the resumption of the EURO 2017 campaign in April with a double-header away to Montenegro and Spain.
USA: Hope Solo; Ali Krieger, Emily Sonnett (Kelley O’Hara, 58), Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg; Samantha Mewis, Lindsey Horan (Jaelene Hinkle, 46), Carli Lloyd (Christen Press, 46); Crystal Dunn (Heather O’Reilly, 46), Alex Morgan (c) (Mallory Pugh, 58), Tobin Heath (Stephanie McCaffrey, 46). Unused Subs: Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher.
Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne (c); Sophie Perry (Julie Ann Russell, 46), Megan Campbell, Louise Quinn, Karen Duggan (Meabh De Burca, 72), Diane Caldwell (Jessica Gleeson, 46), Aine O’Gorman, Ruesha Littlejohn (Megan Connolly, 65), Denise O’Sullivan, Stephanie Roche (Fiona O’Sullivan, 46), Katie McCabe (Siobhan Killeen, 65). Unused Subs: Ciara Rossiter, Niamh Reid Burke, Clare Shine, Grace Wright, Savannah McCarthy.