Swanson stretcher USWNT Ireland 2023Getty

USWNT player ratings vs Ireland: Mallory Swanson injury overshadows win while Julie Ertz and Sophia Smith make long-awaited returns

It was a match that could have been, and should have been, a vital building block for the U.S. women's national team ahead of this summer's World Cup. The team saw several stars return and a goal from an unexpected regular as it, eventually, battled to a 2-0 win over a World Cup-bound Ireland.

A good win, for sure, but one that will matter little given what else happened in Austin on Saturday afternoon. On a day where the U.S. fine-tuned for the World Cup, it also lost a player the squad has been counting on for this summer in Australia and New Zealand.

Mallory Swanson's devastating knee injury in Saturday's match will be the story of this two-game set, as it leaves the U.S., potentially, without a star. Swanson was far and away the USWNT's most in-form player so far this year, with seven goals in five games entering this two-game set.

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Now, though, Swanson's World Cup is in doubt.

There were some positives to be taken from this, for sure, despite the overwhelming negative that looms over it all. Sophia Smith returned, as did Julie Ertz, who could make a late run at a World Cup spot. And then there's Emily Fox, the unlikely goalscorer in the first half, and Lindsey Horan, who sealed the result with a penalty in the second.

GOAL rates the USWNT's players from Austin...