The United States Women’s National Team didn’t have Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe but still had little trouble kicking off its World Cup Victory Tour with a 3-0 defeat of Ireland at the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, CA. Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Carli Lloyd provided the scoring.
The USWNT improved to 13-0-0 in the all-time series against Ireland, which has failed to score a goal in the last five meetings with the U.S.
Four large stars were held on the pitch with numbers on them, representing the years the U.S. has won the World Cup, as part of opening processions. The Rose Bowl was filled with thousands of roaring fans who came out to celebrate with the winningest team in the history of the competition.
Orlando Pride’s Morgan (knee) did not dress for the game but could be seen on the bench along with her club teammates, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris. Golden Boot winner Rapinoe also sat out the match. Krieger and Harris didn’t start but did make appearances in the second half of the match. Jill Ellis, in her final stretch of games as the USWNT coach, started mostly a first-choice lineup.
Just under a month removed from the 2-0 final against the Netherlands, the USWNT returned to the pitch and the team looked like it hadn’t missed a beat.
For most of the match the U.S. controlled possession of the ball as well as the tempo. Their strong attacking efforts kept the Irish on their heels, leaving just one player ahead of the ball in hopes of a counterattack. The statistics showed just how dominant the U.S were, out-shooting the Irish 30-2 (9-0 on target), along with 80% possession.
Lloyd had the first real chance of the game in the 12th minute, finding herself on the end of a ball headed across the face of goal by midfielder Sam Mewis. The captain was able to put her laces through the ball on a volley but couldn’t keep it down and on target.
The opening goal came three minutes later, after a wonderfully lofted cross from Christen Press met Tobin Heath, who headed the ball past keeper Marie Hourihan with ease. Press was consistently a threat in attack, getting on the end of crosses herself, making things difficult for the Irish defense.
GOAL, #USWNT!!— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) August 4, 2019
Tobin Heath gets the party going in Pasadena! Her header is assisted by Christen Press, who had a tremendous flick in the box. #USA leads by one! #USAvIRL | 1-0 | #VictoryTour pic.twitter.com/cb8IGKVnkT
Horan doubled her side’s tally after an intelligent backdoor run into the box to slot the ball into the net. Mewis’ low shot was deflected by the toe of Press before the midfielder came on to the ball.
Lloyd made it 3-0, five minutes before halftime after pestering the defense for much of the first half. She climbed the ladder to get her head on the end of Kelley O’Hara’s cross into the box, while being sandwiched between two Irish defenders. With plenty of pressure the striker still put immense power and elevation on the header.
Carli Lloyd squeezes home the header in between 2 defenders pic.twitter.com/HSlB0eKRBd— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 4, 2019
The start of the second half saw several changes made in every third of the pitch. Jessica McDonald came on for Heath, Emily Sonnett entered for Kelly O’Hara and Ashlyn Harris replaced starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
Ellis’ side remained in control for the second stanza but was unable to add more goals to the scoreboard. Ellis drew plenty of applause of appreciation from the fans though as she continued to make more substitutions. The rest of the match was uneventful,
The USWNT will return to the pitch again on Aug. 29 against Portugal in Philadelphia as the Victory Tour continues.