World champs too good but Irish display bodes well, says O'Connor
A battling second-half display saw the Republic of Ireland women's team keep the USA at bay for 45 minutes in Saturday night's international friendly game.
The world champions won the tie 3-0 after piling the pressure on the Irish team, with the hosts determined to kick off their victory tour with a bang in front of 37,040 people at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.
Tobin Heath, who came into the USA starting line-up at the last minute after Mallory Pugh pulled a muscle in the warm-up, got the opener with 16 minutes on the clock.
Some excellent Irish defending and top-drawer saves from goalkeeper Marie Hourihan managed to keep the USA onslaught at bay until the 31st minute when Lindsey Horan doubled their lead.
And it was 37-year-old, 281-time-capped USA hero Carli Lloyd who made it three for the home side 10 minutes later.
But there were positive glimpses for the Irish women in the first 45 - Amber Barrett came close to levelling the game on 22 minutes, but she curled her shot wide.
After regrouping at the break, the visitors came out fighting and despite the USA introducing household names such as Rose Lavelle and Ali Krieger, the world champions couldn't add to their tally.
Determination Ireland interim manager Tom O'Connor was pleased by the determination shown by his side.
"It's 3-0 and no one likes to lose, but I think you have to put it in context. We're playing against the world champions in their home patch, on their victory tour. Overall, I'm very, very pleased with the performance," said O'Connor.
"It was a tough first half, we didn't see a lot of the ball. But the second half was a different story. After the first 45 minutes and with them three up already, we knew we had to get the shape right and overall I'm delighted with the second-half performance."
And with the opening game of the European Championships against Montenegro on September 3 just under one month away, the interim manager feels the future is bright for the young team.
"To bring a 17-year-old, Eabha O'Mahony, on and for her to do so well was great," said O'Connor.
"We had a few players making their debut or getting their first starts and they did very well, so that bodes well for the team for the future. Niamh Farrelly and Jess Gargan were excellent, they didn't look out of sync at all."
Ireland - M Hourihan, C O'Riordan, L Quinn (C Walsh), D Caldwell, J Gargan, H Scott, N Fahey, N Farrelly, A Barrett (R Jarrett), H Payne (E O'Mahony), K McCabe.
USA - A Naeher (A Harris), T Heath (J McDonald), C Lloyd (A Krieger), C Press (R Lavelle), L Horan, J Ertz, S Mewis (A Long), C Dunn, B Sauerbrunn, A Dahlekemper, K O'Hara (E Sonnett).
Ref - E Koroleva (USA)