AUSTIN, Texas — The United States defeated Ireland 2-0 on Saturday in a tuneup for the Women’s World Cup but lost its top scorer this year when forward Mallory Swanson went down with what appeared to be a serious injury to her left knee late in the first half.
In the 40th minute, Swanson, 24, took a pass on the left wing, turned upfield and was challenged by the Irish defender Aoife Mannion. No foul was called, but Swanson fell, crying in pain and grabbing the back of her left knee. Several teammates consoled her.
She was placed on a stretcher with her knee immobilized and made a heart sign with her hands while being carted off the field. She was taken to a hospital, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Soccer Federation.
If Swanson does not recover in time for the World Cup tournament, which is slated to be played in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to Aug. 20, it could deal a heavy blow to the United States’ hopes of winning a third consecutive world championship.
“We don’t know the extent of the injury yet,” Coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the match. “I’m hoping for good news in the near future.”
As Swanson left the stadium, Andonovski said she told him with a smile, “Coach, I’ll be good. I promise I’ll be good.”
Andonovski said he replied, “You’re stronger than me.”
In the 24th minute, Mannion had nudged Swanson into Ireland’s goalkeeper, and Swanson remained down for several minutes before resuming play. But this time, she did not get up and was replaced by Trinity Rodman.
Swanson had already scored seven goals in five games this calendar year, and in six consecutive games overall. She had been ascendant after being left off the United States team for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, an omission she called crushing. She acknowledged that she fell adrift for a time.
The Americans historically have been resourceful in replacing injured players. The star forward Abby Wambach broke the tibia and fibula in her left leg before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the United States won the gold medal without her.
The first goal of Saturday’s match was scored in the 37th minute by defender Emily Fox, who drove a low shot inside the left post from outside the penalty area. It was her first goal in 28 appearances for the national team. In the 80th minute, midfielder Lindsey Horan extended the United States’ lead to 2-0 on a penalty kick.
In the 68th minute, midfielder Julie Ertz entered the match, making her first appearance for the United States since the Tokyo Olympics after giving birth to a son last August. Four minutes later, she drew a yellow card. If Ertz regains full fitness, she would provide much needed grit in the defensive midfield.
The United States and Ireland will play again on Tuesday in St. Louis, the last American match before its 23-player World Cup roster is announced. The United States will face Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal in group play in the tournament.