Alyssa Thompson gets start as U.S. beats Ireland again

The United States women beat the Republic of Ireland 1-0 on Tuesday night friendly at CityPark in St. Louis, with 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson getting the start and playing the whole 90 minutes.

Alana Cook scored from distance at the end of the first half with the game's only goal as the U.S. got the better of Ireland for the second time in the span of three days.

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Vlatko Andonovski's side won 2-0 against the same opponent in a friendly on Saturday, but victory came at a cost after star striker Mallory Swanson suffered a torn patella tendon injury that required surgery on Tuesday.

Swanson was the top scorer for the U.S. this year with seven goals. She had scored in six straight games, tied for fourth-longest streak in team history.

"I think that in this past year, you've seen a lot of players go down with injury and we've been able to adapt," said forward Lynn Williams, who was an unused substitute on Tuesday. "I think that's what the team's going to continue to do, is continue to adapt. Mal's absence is a huge hole to fill, but we have amazing players on this team and we're going to figure out a way to do it."

With Swanson out, Andonovski and the U.S. called in 2023 NWSL No. 1 draft pick Thompson and she was given the start alongside veteran Alex Morgan and 2022 NWSL MVP Sophia Smith in a dangerous front three for the Americans.

The hosts dominated the first half and deservedly took the lead just before the break with a bit of luck as Cook's long crossing pass from well outside the area sailed over Ireland keeper Courtney Brosnan's head and into the net.

U.S. women's team players celebrate after scoring a goal against Ireland in a friendly.
U.S. women's team players celebrate after scoring a goal against Ireland in a friendly.
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"No matter who gets injured it is a tough moment because their careers, their futures are impacted, and the team is impacted," Andonovski said. "Mal is arguably one of the best players in the world. It's unfortunate what happened, but I think that the team is doing well and they do galvanize and bond around unfortunate things like this."

St. Louis native and U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn, who is a near lock for the World Cup squad, made way for Tierna Davidson before the half-hour and was given a rousing ovation as the hometown crowd commemorated the 200th cap of her career.

Sauerbrunn, now at 216 appearances, nearly scored her first national team goal early in the match off a corner kick by Smith and was subbed out in the 28th minute because she has a game with her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, on Friday.

Julie Ertz and Ashley Hatch came on after the break, with the former trying to play her way onto the plane to Australia and New Zealand after a long injury layoff and the birth of a baby and despite not currently playing for a club side.

The home team continued to have the better of possession and looked more dangerous, but failed to score in the second 45 minutes and had to settle for the one-goal victory.

"I'm just happy to be here, and I can control what I can control," Thompson said after her first start for the national team. "I'm just going to to put my best foot forward and see what happens."

The U.S. will face the Netherlands, Portugal and Vietnam in Group E play, with all three of its matches taking place in New Zealand. Ahead of kickoff on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer announced the team's final game before the start of the World Cup would be a friendly against Wales on July 9 in San Jose, California.

"We all understand that we have a job to do past this now and we've got to prepare for the World Cup," Andonovski said. "We've got to prepare and we've got to do a job. And if there's a team that has a group of players ready to step in in the moment, that's this team."