Mallory Swanson’s injury a concern as US downs Ireland

Swanson went down in the 40th minute, screaming in pain as teammates gestured frantically for the training staff. She had scored in six straight matches, tying the record for fourth-longest in U.S. team history.

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Ireland v United States

Mallory Swanson gestures toward fans after being injured against Ireland during a 2023 friendly Saturday in Austin, Texas.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Emily Fox and Lindsey Horan both scored for the United States in a 2-0 victory Saturday over Ireland that was marred by what appeared to be a serious left knee injury to Mallory Swanson.

Swanson was carted off the field at Q2 Stadium and was taken to a hospital. She was the team’s leading scorer this year with seven goals as the United States prepares for the Women’s World Cup this summer.

The match also marked the return of midfielder Julie Ertz, who had not played for the United States since the Tokyo Olympics.

The second of two matches against Ireland was set for Tuesday in St. Louis. The games are the final chance that U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski will have to evaluate his players before he must select a 23-player roster for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The United States fought off a barrage of shots in the 24th minute before Fox scored in the 37th with a low blast through a pair of defenders into the far corner of Ireland’s goal. It was her first goal for the United States.

Swanson went down in the 40th minute, screaming in pain as teammates gestured frantically for the training staff. Swanson had scored in six straight matches for the world No. 1 United States, tying the record for fourth-longest in team history.

As Swanson was carted off the field, she made a heart with her hands for the crowd.

“Anytime an injury happens, the emotions run high, regardless of what kind of injury (it is) and what happens,” Andonovski said. “Mal had to leave the stadium, we don’t know the extent of the injury yet, she’s being checked out as we speak and I’m hoping for some good news.”

Teammate Rose Lavelle said Pugh’s spirits improved once she was carted off.

“We’re hoping for the best,” Lavelle said.

Horan scored on a penalty kick in the 80th minute. Afterward she ran to the corner and saluted the crowd.

Among the players vying for a World Cup spot was Ertz, who hadn’t played for more than 600 days because of injuries and the birth of her son. Ertz came in as a substitute in the 66th minute and was handed the captain’s armband by defender Becky Sauerbrunn.

Ertz is a veteran of two World Cups and was widely considered one of the top players in world at her position. She was honored before the game for her 100th appearance with the national team, which she earned back in March 2020. Her husband, Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz, and their infant son were among those on the field for the ceremony.

“It was good. It was a joy to be back and play with them. It was fun to get the competitive juices flowing,” Ertz said. “I honestly had no idea if I would play, how much time I would play. So I feel like I got a pretty good chunk of time, more so than I expected. I think I might have been smiling the whole time playing.”

Ireland is ranked No. 22 in the world and the roster includes Denise O’Sullivan, who plays for the North Carolina Courage, Aoife Mannion of Manchester United and Katie McCabe, who plays for Arsenal.

The Irish also started Sinead Farrelly, who joined the team in practice this week and officially joined on Friday. Farrelly accused former National Women’s Soccer League coach Paul Riley of misconduct including sexual coercion in 2021. The allegations, published by The Athletic, sparked investigations by both U.S. Soccer and the NWSL. Riley denied the claims.

Farrelly returned to the NWSL this season after nearly eight years away and is playing for Gotham.

“I’m so overwhelmed, very happy, excited,” Farrelly said after the match. “Obviously we want to win but I’m just really proud of the team. I am also very tired. I feel like I am manic right now and in an hour I’m going to completely crash. But I feel so supported here.”

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