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Alana Cook scores long-distance birthday goal, USWNT beats Ireland

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Thanks to a lone goal from Alana Cook, the USWNT defeated the Republic of Ireland, 1-0, in their final match before competing in the 2023 World Cup.

ST. LOUIS -- Alana Cook scored her first international goal on her 26th birthday and the United States beat Ireland 1-0 in an exhibition on Tuesday night as the teams prepare for the Women’s World Cup this summer.

It was the Americans’ first game without Mallory Swanson, who tore the patellar tendon in her left knee during Saturday’s game against Ireland in Austin, Texas.

Swanson was the top scorer for the U.S. this year with seven goals. She had scored in six straight games, tied for fourth-longest streak in team history.

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It appears unlikely that Swanson will be able to play in the World Cup. She returned home to Chicago after the injury and she announced on social media that she had surgery on Tuesday morning.

“This is hard,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m in shock and don’t have much to say other than thank you to everyone for the messages. I feel the love and prayers, and holding them close to my heart.”

USWNT boss Andonovski on effects of Mallory Swanson injury

The United States shuffled its lineup for the match at City Park in Swanson’s absence. It was the final opportunity for U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski to look at players before announcing a 23-player World Cup roster, which is due in mid-July.

The coach said he’ll analyze the game in the coming days. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he would make a like-for-like swap for Swanson or whether he’d try a new tactic going forward.

“So with losing Mal, conceptually we may look slightly different, because you look at this team, it was going to built around Mal and (Sophia Smith) and their attacking power,” Andonovski said. “Now with Mal not being there, we’re going to have to make a decision. What are we going to go for? Like-for-like and try the same way, or is Mal going to be replaced by a group of players?”

Emily Fox, who scored in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Ireland, was available off the bench. Casey Murphy started in goal rather than Alyssa Naeher, and Rose Lavelle didn’t play because of an unspecified injury she picked up in Austin.

Andonovski started Alyssa Thompson, an 18-year-old forward who was drafted this season out of high school by Angel City of the National Women’s Soccer League. Thompson was brought in as a replacement for Swanson for Tuesday’s game.

“Once we lost Mal in the last in the last game, we knew that may be a long-term injury. We wanted to explore it every possible option before we make the final decision and one of those was Alyssa Thompson,” the coach said.

USWNT honors Becky Sauerbrunn; Alana Cook reacts to goal

Before the game, the U.S. honored Becky Sauerbrunn, who is from St. Louis, for her 200th appearance with the team. The defender reached the milestone last year, but the ceremony was set for Tuesday so she could celebrate with relatives and hometown fans.

Sauerbrunn, now at 216 appearances, nearly scored her first national team goal early in the match off a corner kick by Sophia Smith. Sauerbrunn was subbed out in the 28th minute because she has a game with her NWSL team, the Portland Thorns, on Friday.

Cook scored from distance in the 43rd minute. Irish goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan got her fingertips on the shot but couldn’t stop it. Cook is the third player in team history to score on her birthday, joining Mia Hamm (1998) and Alex Morgan (2019).

“I think when it came out to me I just wanted to put it back in play so it was going to be dangerous, and hopefully Lindsey (Horan) or someone would get a head on it,” Cook said. “Excited to get a first goal, excited to help the team.”

The United States announced it will play a send-off match against Wales on July 9 in San Jose, California, before departing for the World Cup, which opens on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

Alana Cook goal video: Birthday back scores from long distance