Ireland striker Kyra Carusa. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Kyra Carusa

Playing with Alex Morgan, Ireland earning respect, and no fear against France

Kyra Carusa is relishing Ireland’s Euro 2025 qualifying campaign.

KYRA CARUSA LEARNS from Alex Morgan every day — and she draws parallels between the USA superstar and her own Ireland side.

The duo are team-mates at San Diego Wave in the NWSL.

Morgan is one of the biggest names in women’s football globally, and the two-time World Cup winner has been a huge role model for Carusa through the years.

Playing alongside the 34-year-old striker and seeing how she operates on a day-to-day basis is a dream come true, and hugely beneficial to her own career.

“Alex’s name is worldly known,” Carusa tells The 42. “It’s good to see the confidence and the way a player like that presents themselves amongst the team, on the pitch. 

“It’s wild to think that sometimes there is an aura, a presence, that other people have to respect — which is very much earned. That comes from teams knowing what she can do, what she’s capable of, and I kind of reflect that to us, to Ireland — there is a presence that we have and there is a presence that we bring against teams that means they just don’t want to play us. The respect Alex has, we too have earned that as well.

“As a player, you can see that and it is kind of manifested. What’s keeping another player from being able to hold their shoulders back and walking on a pitch like that as well? 

“As a forward playing the same position as her, you take those little notes to your game. That’s something that is a controllable for myself, that I can bring to the table. It’s class to be able to play with quality like that.”

san-diegos-alex-morgan-plays-during-an-nwsl-soccer-match-against-chicago-saturday-march-25-2023-in-san-diego-ap-photodenis-poroy Alex Morgan (file photo). Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Carusa is in flying form at Ireland’s team hotel on Easter Monday morning. The California native is showing no signs of jet lag, which she has perfected shaking off at this stage, and is relishing the upcoming Euro 2025 qualifiers against France and England. 

The 28-year-old, who has been Ireland’s first-choice forward of late, is asked about her side’s goalscoring struggles. They have performed relatively well against top-tier teams recently, but have few goals to show for it. 

That’s the challenge in a daunting Group A3 which also contains Sweden, bringing together three of the world’s top five. (Ireland are 24th, in comparison.)

Carusa reckons Ireland will rise to it, having grown exponentially. Their increased squad depth will be key as they seek goals, she says.

“I think we have developed a lot as a team in terms of our confidence and ability, the difference-makers that we have. You could see with the top nations at the World Cup, they have those players who can change a game for them, score winners… that’s something that we’re incorporating more.

“A huge part of it is having the confidence that you know you can win a game like that. You know Ireland, we are always difficult to beat.

“When we got the draw, my Swedish team-mates looked at me and it was, ‘Honestly, anyone but you guys’. Because they know. We’ve been in competition with them recently, no one wants to have to play us.

“That’s such a huge advantage to us, but also we have the ability to win a game like that. We have the quality and the belief that we can score a goal and that we have the difference-makers.”

Carusa speaks about coming through Big Five Moments that can “make or break teams”: the five minutes before half time and the final whistle, or after a goal, for example.

Ireland crumbled when they conceded before the break in a World Cup warm-up game against France last summer. They lost 3-0 in the end. Avoiding a repeat of such in Metz on Friday night is crucial, Carusa says.

“Ultimately it comes to those little moments that can be determinants between getting results and not getting results. Those moments are the difference between being able to compete at this level or not.

“Control what we can control. Why would you fear playing these games? These are the games you want to be playing.

“You have to remember that there is something to be feared in playing us too.”

Take that Alex Morgan aura into it. 

Carusa reckons she can have that presence too.

“I’d say it’s part of my game that I’ve grown a lot,” she nods.

“I definitely don’t think it happens overnight, I don’t think it’s something you can even necessarily pinpoint but a lot of it happened when I started playing Champions League with my club in Denmark a few years ago.

“I became a very different player in that sense, I felt my shoulders pull back a bit more: I know I’m good, I know what I bring to the table. But it ebbs and flows too. The game is so fickle. You’re in favour one week, not the rest. Or in training, you just cannot strike the ball today apparently or do anything right. That’s why not everyone wants to be a professional, because it can be so draining and daunting. The ups and downs of it all.

“But the most important thing I always remember came from my Dad. He just said, ‘Go do what you do.’ It really is that simple. You didn’t forget how to kick a ball. You didn’t forget how to win a game. You didn’t forget how to be a leader.

“Go do what you do.”

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