CHICAGO (Feb. 10, 2011) â€“ Following a seven-day training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has named a 24-player preliminary roster for the 2011 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
This yearâ€™s tournament is being staged from March 2-9 and the U.S. team will depart for Europe on Feb. 18. The venues and kickoff times have yet to be confirmed. Sundhage will name 20 players to the tournament roster prior to the start of the matches.
All the games will be played at small venues across the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country, and the placement matches will take place on March 9. Fans can follow the USAâ€™s intense schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and watch highlights on ussoccer.com.
The U.S. team, which has been placed into Group A at the annual tournament, will open play on March 2 against first-time Algarve Cup participants Japan, will face Norway on March 4 and will finish the first round on March 7 against Finland. Group B features Sweden, China, Iceland and Denmark. Group C features host Portugal, another first-time Algarve Cup participant in Chile, Wales and Romania.
Since the expansion to 12 teams 10 years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows: The teams in Group A and B will compete for the title as the group winners will play on Wednesday, March 9, in the championship game. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A or B for seventh place. The second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team from Groups A or B for ninth place, and the third and fourth place finishers in Group C will play each other for 11th place.
This will be the 16th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. Women, who have won the tournament seven times, including an unprecedented three straight championships from 2003-05 at what has become one of the worldâ€™s most competitive international womenâ€™s events. Last year, the USA defeated Germany 3-2 in the championship game on a sloppy field at Stadium Algarve in Faro.
Sundhage will bring a slightly larger roster to the tournament as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo (who is attending her ninth Algarve Cup) is not yet cleared for game competition, but will come to train as she enters the final stages of her rehabilitation from major shoulder surgery. The larger roster will also give more players the chance to train in preparation for this summerâ€™s 2011 FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup. Four of the eight teams over Groups A and B will be participating in the World Cup in Germany.
The USA scored nine goals at last yearâ€™s tournament, including one own goal, credited to Sif Atladottir of Iceland, and each of the U.S. goalscorers return this year. Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Lauren Cheney, who all scored in the championship game, accounted for the eight goals with Cheney netting four and Wambach three.
After missing Januaryâ€™s Four Nations Tournament in China, Wambach returns to the roster looking to build on her career total of 117 goals. The U.S. roster is stocked with veteran players, led by U.S. captain Christie Rampone (who missed last yearâ€™s tournament while preparing for the birth of her second daughter), Shanon Boxx (the 2004 and 2006 Algarve Cup MVP), Wambach (15 career goals at the Algarve, best of any U.S. player), and 100-plus capped midfielders Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley and Heather Oâ€™Reilly. Lloyd was the MVP of the 2007 Algarve Cup after scoring in all four games. Oâ€™Reilly will be playing in her team-leading ninth Algarve Cup.
Joining Wambach in a quartet of forwards is Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Cheney and Alex Morgan, the top pick in the 2011 WPS Draft by the Western New York Flash. Sundhage chose nine midfielders with Yael Averbuch, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey and Kelley Oâ€™Hara â€“ all of whom contributed to the Four Nations title â€“ rounding out the group.
Seven defenders were chosen. Heather Mitts will not make the trip due to injury, but outside back Ali Krieger, currently playing her club soccer in Germany for FFC Frankfurt, will join the U.S. team in Portugal. Veterans Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet and Stephanie Cox will be joined by Becky Sauerbrunn (five caps) and the uncapped Whitney Engen on the back line.
Nicole Barnhart, who has started the past 11 games in goal for the USA, is joined by uncapped Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher as the USA will bring four â€˜keepers to Portugal. This is the eighth Algarve Cup appearance for Boxx and seventh for Wambach.
U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team Roster by Position Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart (out of contract), Ashlyn Harris (Western New York Flash), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Christie Rampone (Washington Freedom), Becky Sauerbrunn (Washington Freedom),
MIDFIELDERS (9): Yael Averbuch (Western New York Flash), Shannon Boxx (Washington Freedom), Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Kelley Oâ€™Hara (Boston Breakers), Heather Oâ€™Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence), Lindsay Tarpley (Washington Freedom)
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
18th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
Japan, Finland, USA, Norway
Sweden, China, Iceland, Denmark
Portugal, Chile, Wales, Romania
A Norway vs. Finland
A USA vs. Japan
B Sweden vs. Iceland
B China vs. Denmark
C Portugal vs. Wales
C Romania vs. Chile
A Japan vs. Finland
A USA vs. Norway
B Iceland vs. China
B Denmark vs. Sweden
C Portugal vs. Chile
C Wales vs. Romania
A Norway vs. Japan
A USA vs. Finland
B China vs. Sweden
B Denmark vs. Iceland
C Chile vs. Wales
C Portugal vs. Romania