23.01.2016 at 22:30 Qualcomm Stadium , San Diego
Lloyd Goal 6', 21', 28'
Morgan Goal 45'
Pugh Goal 83'
USA 5-0 Ireland
The Republic of Ireland Women’s national team lost their opening game of 2016 when they went down 5-0 to the world champions and world number one ranked side USA at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in front of a crowd of 23,309.
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.
Although the Irish played much better in the second half and created several goalscoring opportunities it was the USA who got the half’s only goal when debutant Mallory Pugh headed home from close range seven minutes from time.
Ireland manager Sue Ronan handed a senior debut to 18-year-old Megan Connolly when she introduced her as a 65th-minute substitute. And the Cork girl provided the assist for the visitors’ best chance of the game when her corner found Fiona O’Sullivan whose powerful header was saved by Hope Solo, who had earlier conceded the corner when tipping over a dangerous long throw from Megan Campbell.
The lack of football for the Irish squad in recent months due to close seasons and postponements certainly showed in the opening half-hour as basic errors were ruthlessly punished by the Americans who had been in camp since 5 January preparing for this game and next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The opening goal came in the sixth minute from a throw-in which caught the Irish defence unaware and when Morgan pulled the ball back across the face of goal, Lloyd had a simple tap in from close range.
Fifteen minutes later Lloyd showed 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.
An under-hit back pass from Diane Caldwell allowed Lloyd to complete her hat-trick as she tucked the ball past the advancing Byrne, while there also a lot of good fortune for Morgan’s goal as a header from Lloyd struck a post and rebounded across the face of goal leaving Amercia’s newest centurion an easy tap in.
Ronan rang the chances at half-time with Julie Ann Russell, Fiona O’Sullivan and Jessica Gleeson coming on and they were quickly joined by Siobhan Killeen, Connolly and Meabh de Burca. Ireland were much tighter defensively and Campbell’s long throws caused the American defence problems.
Instead, it was the Americans who got the second-half’s only goal when Christen Press pulled the ball back for 17-year-old Pugh, who had timed her run from midfield to perfection and headed past Byrne from six yards.
After the match, Ireland manager Sue 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 to the Cyprus Cup in March for four games prior to 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.