The United States opened Women's World Cup training camp a week ago and on Sunday, they finally got to take to the pitch in a real match against Ireland. The match also fell on Mother's Day, and the U.S. honored their moms by walking onto the pitch with them. But it would have been hollow had they lost, so the Americans made sure the result wouldn't put a damper on the day and walked away 3-0 winners.
Abby Wambach scored the first two goals for the Americans and Julie Johnston added the third in a thorough dismantling of the Irish. Ireland not only failed to qualify for the World Cup, but they were playing without five regular starters so they were completely overmatched by the U.S., who pummeled them in front of a sellout crowd the new Avaya Stadium in San Jose, CA.
While the U.S. dominated the match, they were far from sharp. They controlled possession with ease and whenever they did give it away, won it back quickly, but they took a lot of speculative shots and when they did get better chances, did not finish well. As a result, the U.S. had over a dozen shots by the 40th minute to Ireland's zero, but the match was still scoreless.
The U.S. finally found the net in the 42nd minute when Ireland nearly score on own goal on a U.S. corner kick, but the shot hit an Ireland defender on the line. The referee probably should have whistled the play dead there because the defender who cleared it off of the line had a head injury, but she did not and the rebound found Christen Press, who crossed for Wambach to tap in.
It only took three minutes for the U.S. to double their lead as Wambach struck again. Carli Lloyd set it up with a run to the end line and a cross, which Wambach nodded home to put the Americans 2-0 up.
The Americans didn't even need 10 minutes of the second half before they had scored again. Once again it came on a corner kick, as this time Johnston met the ball at the near post and knocked it past the Ireland goalkeeper for a three-goal lead.
By the time the final whistle went, the U.S. had 26 shots to Ireland's zero. But the Americans hardly looked sharp and in no way ready for the World Cup. They have a lot of work to do in the final third, where they struggled to turn possession into dangerous play forward and had to rely on their size and strength for goals yet again. That works against Ireland, but against the best teams in the world, they'll need to be more versatile.
The World Cup is less than a month away and the U.S. has two matches left before they head to Canada. The next one is on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET against Mexico at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. Hopefully the U.S. looks just as dominant, but a little sharper and a step closer towards being World Cup ready.