<
>

How The USWNT Celebrated Mother's Day With A Victory Against Ireland

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The U.S. women's national team delivered a Mother's Day treat as it prepared for this summer's World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Ireland.

Abby Wambach scored twice in a three-minute span of the first half, and Julie Johnston scored in her third consecutive game. At the other end, the U.S. defense was rarely tested in a match the hosts dominated throughout.

That said, the U.S. once again struggled to break down an organized opponent from the run of play, giving the team plenty to work on with games coming up against Mexico and Korea Republic.

The U.S. players were given a Mother's Day gift prior to the match. Broadcaster Fox Sports paid for each player's mother to be flown in, and the moms surprised the squad at Saturday night's team meal. Sunday, the mothers accompanied their daughters onto the field for the pregame introductions.

As expected, Alex Morgan didn't play because of a lingering bone bruise in her left knee. She also is expected to miss next weekend's friendly against Mexico. Tobin Heath missed the match due to a hamstring injury, though she might play next weekend.

The U.S. put Ireland under immediate pressure and nearly scored in the second minute, only for Amy Rodriguez to clip the bar with an effort from 12 yards.

The Americans dominated the half thereafter, but with Ireland getting 10 players behind the ball, the hosts found it tough to get clear looks at goal. One exception came in the 26th minute, when Christen Press broke through after cutting in from the right wing, but Niamh Reid-Burke was on hand to produce a fabulous reaction save.

The quality of the Americans' chances was directly related to their ability to find space out wide, and in the 42nd minute Megan Rapinoe's rocket from a Press cross was saved by Reid-Burke, who did well to get across in time.

The U.S. then broke through on the ensuing corner in bizarre fashion. An attempted clearance from an Ireland defender struck teammate Meabh De Burca flush in the face as she guarded the back post, and with Ireland temporarily distracted by its fallen teammate, Press centered for Wambach, who side-footed into the net.

Wambach scored her second three minutes later, nodding home a Lloyd cross after the U.S. midfield had shaken loose on the left wing.

With a comfortable lead now established, the U.S. looked more fluid to start the second half. Lauren Holiday put Press clean through on goal, but after rounding the keeper, the U.S. forward saw her shot headed off the line by an Ireland defender.

Press was denied again two minutes later courtesy of another brilliant save from Reid-Burke, but Johnston was able to stab home the ensuing corner to extend the U.S. lead to 3-0.

The Americans got a bit of a scare in the 63rd minute when Wambach collided with Reid-Burke on a cross into the box. Wambach received a bloody nose for her efforts but was soon back on the field. She nearly grabbed a hat trick in the 71st minute, but her shot lacked sufficient power to beat Reid-Burke.

U.S. manager Jill Ellis made a flurry of substitutes as the U.S. continued to dominate, but had to be content with a three-goal victory.

Here's a quick breakdown of how every American player performed against Ireland.

Player ratings: (0-10)

Starters

G Hope Solo, 6: A day at the beach for the U.S. keeper in that she had a grand total of three touches.

D Meghan Klingenberg, 6.5: Defended impeccably, and got forward to good effect, but the final pass needed to be a tad sharper.

D Becky Sauerbrunn, 8: Was rarely tested, but was mistake-free in all facets.

D Julie Johnston, 8.5: Another solid performance in the back, and scored again from a set piece. Christie Rampone will find it difficult to win her spot back at this rate.

D Ali Krieger, 6.5: Her first game back since suffering a concussion was a success, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

M Megan Rapinoe, 5.5: Tried to force things a bit too much down the middle, and should have done better after being teed up by Press.

M Lauren Holiday, 6.5: Had difficulty connecting passes in the first half, but picked up her game after halftime and connected with Johnston for the third U.S. goal.

M Carli Lloyd, 7: Dominated defensively in the air, and assisted on Wambach's second.

M Christen Press, 6: Struggled in central positions early on, but then had more success out wide and should have had an assist on a Rapinoe effort. Was snake-bit in front of goal thanks to some stellar keeping from Reid-Burke.

F Abby Wambach, 7: Was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of her link play, especially in the final third. But her finishing was opportunistic, especially her header for the Americans' second.

F Amy Rodriguez, 5: Will want that first-half chance that grazed the bar back. Held the ball up well, but overall was too quiet.

Subs

D Lori Chalupny, 6: Enjoyed a stress-free day at the back, and picked her spots well to get forward.

M Morgan Brian, 6: Looked more comfortable in the middle after starting the second half out wide. Nearly scored with a 70th-minute volley attempt.

F Sydney Leroux, 6: Did what she could to stretch the Ireland defense. Threatened with a surging run and shot in the second half.

D Kelley O'Hara, 5: Needed to connect better on her passes, and had one minor hiccup in the back.

M Heather O'Reilly, 6: Put in an energetic shift as well as a few teasing crosses that just missed connecting.

M Shannon Boxx, 6: Came in for a late cameo in the center of midfield.