WNT Feb 21, 2010
Training today consisted of a scrimmage match against China, which is also at the Algarve Cup but in the opposite group from the USA. The match was played in less than ideal conditions, on a small field with icy winds whipping across the muddy, sloppy, slippery pitch. The teams played three periods of 3o minutes each with U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage changing lineups during each period while using 18 of the 19 players on the roster. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who has been training full out, was the only U.S. player not to see action. Rapinoe missed all of the USA's last training camp due to illness, but should be fit and ready for selection once the Algarve Cup games kick off. The U.S. team had the vast majority of possession, no small feat against the skillful Chinese (who chose to wear their all white uniforms...good luck getting those mud stains out Chinese equipment manager), but the match ended in a 1-1 tie. China hit the post once (former L.A Sol forward Han Duan) and the U.S. hit woodwork twice (Carli Lloyd and Lauren Cheney), but didn't get a goal until about 18 minutes left when left midfielder Casey Nogueira pulled off some fancy dribbling on the left wing and struck a shot from a sharp angle that snuck through everyone in the goal area, hit the right post and went in. It was actually a pretty good display of attacking soccer from the U.S. considering the conditions, but with players sinking into the ground on every cut and with puddles of standing water all over the field, the Americans couldn't quite find the necessary quality their final passes. The Americans will go at it for real against Iceland on Feb. 24 in Vila Real de San Antonio to open the Algarve Cup.