Ireland ready to take on world number one USA in two important friendlies

Denise O'Sullivan and Megan Connolly from Cork will feature in the two games in Texas and Missouri
Ireland ready to take on world number one USA in two important friendlies

Denise O'Sullivan of Republic of Ireland shoots to score her side's first goal against Slovakia. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

WITH just four months to kick-off at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the Republic of Ireland will travel to North America for a series of friendlies against the USA in Texas and Missouri.

Vera Pauw and her players will face the number one ranked side on the planet on April 8th with kick-off set for 7.30pm in Austin and they will meet again three days later at 12.30am Irish time.

Ireland previously played the USA back in the summer of 2019, it was their first game back after winning an unprecedented fourth World Cup title and the hosts won 3-0 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Times are different now as this series of friendlies have been organised to help the two teams finalise their plans before the World Cup kicks off this summer.

The squad announced for the games includes a blend of established stars and new faces, including two from the Women’s National League in Ireland. Those are Tara O'Hanlon and Alannah McEvoy, and they represent Peamount United and Shamrock Rovers.

Goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse is the other new player in the squad and she is with Lewes in the FA Women’s Champions.

Manchester United’s Aoife Mannion and Washington Spirit’s Marissa Sheva are also back after getting first called up in February for friendlies with Germany and China in Spain.

Katie McCabe is also included, which alleviates fears that she could be set for a long-term spell on the sidelines after picking up an injury during Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Women’s Champions League quarter-finals.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw and Katie McCabe. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland manager Vera Pauw and Katie McCabe. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Denise O’Sullivan is also in the squad, and she will become an Irish centurion if she features in either game for Ireland.

They will come up against a USA team that is keen to keep momentum after they won the CONCACAF W Championship and SheBelieves Cup.

Almost the entire USA squad plays in the NWSL, with the exception of Lyon’s Lindsey Horan. She is one of the most decorated players in the team as she won the World Cup in 2019 and the Women’s Champions League last year. Another member of the squad with that kind of collection is Alex Morgan, who will be looking for a third World Cup medal this summer in Australia and New Zealand.

Given her experience of the NWSL, O’Sullivan will be vital to the Irish cause she captains goalkeeper Casey Murphy and defender Emily Fox at North Carolina Courage. 

She has played in the league since 2017 and is a two-time champion. Sheva is in a similar situation as four of the USA squad play with her at Washington Spirit.

This series of friendlies will test Pauw and her low block system that prioritises a rigid defensive shape. The USA have already scored fourteen goals in 2023 and they only conceded once.

The last time they failed to win on home soil was last November with Germany beating them 2-1 in Florida. Ireland went the entirety of 2022 undefeated and the last time they lost a game was a World Cup qualifier against Sweden at Tallaght Stadium in October 2021.

This will be the biggest pre-World Cup test to date for this Irish team and all eyes will be on Austin on Saturday night.

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