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USWNT kicks off Victory Tour with 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland

The U.S. had no trouble getting a win at the Rose Bowl tonight

Caitlin Buckley

A dominant first half saw the United States glide past the Republic of Ireland, posting a 3-0 win in the first match of their post-World Cup Victory Tour. Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and Carli Lloyd all scored before halftime for the USWNT, who were in control for virtually all of the 90 minutes at the Rose Bowl.

With injuries and tired legs after a grueling World Cup still a factor, Jill Ellis fielded a team with several changes from the eleven that won the final last month. Lindsey Horan replaced the Washington Spirit’s Rose Lavelle in the midfield, while up front Carli Lloyd and Christen Press came in for Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who were held out of the game entirely. Spirit winger Mallory Pugh was slated to start, but after a minor muscle injury flared up during the warm-up, Tobin Heath got the nod instead.

Unsurprisingly, the game immediately settled into the expected pattern, with the USWNT camping out in the Irish half. After a miss from Lloyd and a few scrambles after corner kicks, Christen Press had the vision to pick out Heath’s run in the 15th minute. Press delivered an inch-perfect cross from the left side of the box, leaving Heath with the simple task of winning a race to the ball to nod past Marie Hourihan.

A moment of lax defending nearly handed Ireland a 22nd minute equalizer, as Kelley O’Hara’s giveaway was followed by Abby Dahlkemper not being ready for contact from Amber Barrett. The lone Irish forward bumped Dahlkemper aside on the edge of the box, but with no support, she fired well wide from an angle.

The pressure resumed, and Horan made it 2-0 in the 31st. Heath got into the box, drawing some defensive pressure, before laying the ball off for Mewis. Mewis fired a low shot from 25 yards, and Press reached out to tip the ball with her toe. Replays showed Horan to be offside as a result of that deflection, but the flag never came, and Horan ran onto the slight deflection to sweep the ball past Hourihan.

Wash, rinse, repeat: more U.S. pressure ended with Mewis finding O’Hara on the right, and O’Hara swung in a cross with eyes for Lloyd near the penalty spot. Despite being marked tightly, the USWNT’s captain for the night made it look easy, getting up high to loop a header over Hourihan and make it 3-0.

Ellis made three halftime substitutions, bringing Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnett, and Jess McDonald in for Alyssa Naeher, O’Hara, and Heath, but the pattern of play continued. The U.S. went close several times, particularly on one Horan header shortly before the hour mark, but Ireland was doing an improved job defending inside their penalty area and prevented major chances.

The subs kept coming, with Ali Krieger, Allie Long, and Lavelle coming on around the hour mark for Lloyd, Mewis, and Press, respectively. Lavelle in particular drew an appreciative roar after her goal in the final cemented a breakout tournament.

Long, however, ended up the most heavily-involved substitute, going close on two different set piece headers and nearly getting onto a loose ball after crashing the box to follow up on a cross from Krieger. Her 77th minute header following yet another corner appeared to be blocked by a handball, but — perhaps balancing things out from the earlier Horan goal — the pleas for a spot kick were turned down.

Long had the game’s final chance, and once again it was on a set piece. This time, Dahlkemper’s 90th minute delivery picked out the Reign FC midfielder at the back post, but in a crowd, Long couldn’t quite twist herself to guide her header on frame.

The World Cup Victory Tour continues at the end of this month, with the USWNT facing Portugal on August 29 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Highlights will be added when they are made available.