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U.S. Women Take On France in Algarve Cup in First Match of 2005 on Wedesday

U.S. TEAM PREPARES TO FACE FRANCE IN ALGARVE CUP OPENER: The U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off its first match of 2005 on Wednesday, March 9, against France in Ferreiras, Portugal, at 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the game live online with’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.  By the time the match kicks off, the USA will have had seven training sessions, all of which have been fairly sharp considering the long layoff.  The U.S. had its most recent match on Dec. 8, 2004, and last training together (before coming to the Algarve Cup) back in August.  After a rainy second day in the Algarve, the clouds cleared and the U.S. team has enjoyed sunny skies, with a persistent wind the only meteorological annoyance.  All the teams are no doubt hoping that the wind subsides as it has played havoc with Algarve Cup matches in the past.    

A DECADE OF ALGARVE CUPS: This will be the 10th Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have gone 5-1-3 in their opener of this tournament.  The USA had failed to win an Algarve Cup opener for three consecutive years before last year, when they defeated France, 5-1, on goals by Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Angela Hucles (two) and Lindsay Tarpley.  None of the U.S. players are expecting a romp like the one that occurred last year as France is gearing up for this summer’s European championships and the Americans come to the Algarve with one of the youngest teams ever put out for a major international tournament.  Despite the fact that the 10 members on the Algarve Cup roster, who were not members of the 2004 Olympic Team, average just 21 years of age, U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan has told media members that there will be familiar faces in the lineup for the France match, and he will ease the youngsters into the mix.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams four 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 in the championship game on Tuesday, March 15.  The two second-place group 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 in Groups A or B, the second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team in Groups A or B and the third and fourth place finishers in Group C will play each other again.  Seven of the eight teams that qualified for the 2005 European Women’s Championship to be held in June in England will participate in this year’s Algarve Cup, with only Italy not attending. 

The Algarve Cup has staked a claim as the top women’s international tournament in the world outside of the Women’s World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships, and that is backed up by the participation of seven of the top-10 teams in the world according to the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings.  Group A promises six world championship-caliber games as four of the top-six teams square off in No. 1 Germany, No. 3 Norway, No. 5 Sweden and No. 6 China.  The USA’s Group B features No. 2 USA, No. 7 Denmark, No. 9 France and No. 16 Finland.  Group C, whose members are playing for seventh place at best, features No. 14 England, No. 25 Mexico, No. 34 Portugal and No. 83 Northern Ireland.  Only Brazil (No. 4), North Korea (No. 8) and Italy (No. 10) are missing from world’s top-10.

Algarve Cup Participants – FIFA Women’s World Rankings
 1 / Germany
 2 / USA
 3 / Norway
 5 / Sweden
 6 / China
 7 / Denmark
 9 / France
14 / England
16 / Finland
25 / Mexico
34 / Portugal
83 / Northern Ireland
USA vs. FRANCE HISTORY: The USA and France have met just nine times, and had not faced each other since 1997 before the meeting at the Algarve Cup last year, a 5-1 U.S. win.  The USA has won all nine meetings, but after being shut out in the first four, France has managed one or two goals in each of the last five games.

A LOOK AT FRANCE: The French feature one of the best strikers in the world in former Philadelphia Charge star Marinette Pichon.  One of the world’s best finishers, the U.S. team did a fine job of limiting her touches in last year’s meeting, but will need to do so again to find successes as Pichon is renowned for finishing half-chances. France also features former Boston Breaker Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe, a speedy flank midfielder, and veteran defender Corinne Diacre, who leads the team from the back.  France has skillful players all over the pitch and midfielder Sonia Bompastor, who scored against the USA last year, and forward Hoda Lattaf are both extremely dangerous.  Sandrine Capy is the first-choice in goal while defender Laura Georges plays for Boston College in the USA.  The U.S. players currently in France with Olympique Lyonnais will know one familiar face in OL defender Sandrine Dusang.

USA RECORD AT ALGARVE CUP VENUES: The USA has a 21-9-5 record all-time at the Algarve Cup, having scored 79 goals in those 35 matches while allowing 39, an average of 1.11 goals allowed per game, far more than the USA’s all-time average of 0.70.  The USA has never lost at the Algarve Cup venues that will host their group matches, going 3-0-0 in Ferreiras and 1-0-1 in Vila Real de San Antonio, but have never played in Guia.

12th Annual Algarve Cup
Algarve, Portugal
Group A
Norway, China PR, Sweden & Germany
Group B
USA, Denmark, Finland & France
Group C
England, N. Ireland, Portugal & Mexico

Algarve Cup Opening Day Match Schedule
March 9, 2005
Group A                               Kickoff                                        City           Venue
Norway v China PR              1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET         Lagos        Estádio Municipal Lagos
Sweden v Germany               4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET        Lagos        Estádio Municipal Lagos
Group B
Denmark v Finland                1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET         Ferreiras    Estádio da Nora
France v USA                       4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET        Ferreiras    Estádio da Nora
Group C
England v Northern Ireland    1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET         Paderne     Estádio Municipal
Portugal v Mexico                 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET        Paderne     Estádio Municipal

USA ALGARVE CUP SCORERS: Of the 79 goals scored in the Algarve Cup, players on the 2005 U.S. Algarve Cup roster have accounted for 29% of those, led by Kristine Lilly’s seven goals.  Following are all the U.S. scorers all-time at the Algarve Cup:

Player                          Goals
Shannon MacMillan   11
Mia Hamm                  8
Kristine Lilly                7
Tiffeny Milbrett            6
Brandi Chastain         5
Julie Foudy                 4
Carin Gabarra            4
Cindy Parlow              4
Abby Wambach         4
Angela Hucles            3
Michelle Akers           2
Cat Reddick               2
Lindsay Tarpley         2
Aly Wagner                2
Joy Fawcett               1
Lorrie Fair                 1
Ally Marquand           1
Stephanie Rigamat  1
Laura Schott             1
Tisha Venturini         1
Kelly Wilson              1
Christie Welsh          1
Team Rosters:
USA - GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Nicole Barnhart, 18-Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lindsey Huie, 6-Stephanie Lopez, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts, 14-Jill Oakes, 4-Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Lori Chalupny, 3-Lorrie Fair, 8-Angela Hucles, 13-Kristine Lilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (5): 9-Heather O’Reilly, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh, 16-Kelly Wilson.

FRANCEGOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Sandrine Capy (FCF Juvisy), 16-Céline Deville (Montpellier Hérault SC); DEFENDERS (7): 5-Corinne Diacre (ASJ Soyaux), 13-Sandrine Dusang (Olympique Lyonnais), 19-Anne-Laure Casseleux (Soyaux ASJ), 4-Laura Georges (Boston College, USA), 20-Laure LePailleur (Montpellier Herault SC), 3-Peggy Provost (FCF Juvisy), 2-Sabrina Viguier (Toulouse FC); MIDFIELDERS (7): 12-Camille Abily (Montpellier Herault SC), 8-Sonia Bompastor (Montpellier Hérault SC), 15-Elise Bussaglia (FCF Juvsisy), 14-Ludivine Diguelman (Montpellier Hérault SC), 17-Marie-Ange Kramo (Toulouse FC), 7-Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe (FCF Juvisy), 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand (FCF Juvisy); FORWARDS (4): 10-Candie Herbert (Soyaux ASJ), 18-Hoda Lattaf (Montpellier Hérault SC), 9-Marinette Pichon (FCF Juvisy), 11-Laetitia Tonazzi (FCF Juvisy). 
FOUR PLAYERS LOOKING FOR FIRST CAP: Four players will be looking for their first cap against France and in this tournament.  2004 U.S. Under-19 World Championship veterans Stephanie Lopez and Amy Rodriguez, both 18, will be looking for their first caps at the senior level.  Lopez has been capped 24 times at the U-19 level while Rodriguez has six caps and two goals for the U.S. U-19s.  Also looking for their first senior caps are Jill Oakes, who has 20 caps and five goals for the U-19s and 12 caps and one goal for the U-21s, and Lindsey Huie, who has 15 caps and one goal at the U-21 level.  Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart has one full national team cap, but that did not come in goal (read about the full story by clicking here).  She will be looking to earn her first cap and make her first start in goal against France. She has represented the USA 11 times at the U-21 level.

SEITZ IS USA’S REPRESENTATIVE IN FIRST-EVER FIFA WOMEN’S REFEREE WORKSHOP: U.S. Soccer Referee Kari Seitz will be the USA’s lone representative at FIFA’s first-ever Women’s Referee Workshop, being held in conjunction with the 2005 Algarve Cup.  Seitz, one of three female FIFA certified referees in the USA, will participate with referees from 22 different countries.  They are joined in the workshop by 14 assistant referees.  The Women’s Referee Workshop was established to prepare women referees for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. It is designed to resemble the approach being implemented on the men’s side for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which includes workshops and camps where FIFA instructors can train and evaluate officials. The 2005 Algarve Cup was chosen to host the first women’s workshop, as it is a top-level tournament taking place in a year in which there are no FIFA women’s events scheduled.  There are four other referees from CONCACAF participating.  Seitz participated in the 2004 Athens Olympics, where she officiated the Bronze medal match between Germany and Sweden while the U.S. played Brazil for the Gold Medal. Seitz also officiated at the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups and the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.  Each referee participating in the Algarve Cup will officiate one game, which will be observed by FIFA and discussed with the group. Seitz is slated to work the Norway-China clash on the first Match Day in Lagos.  Referees and assistant referees will also take part in a fitness test and heart rate monitoring, and will attend practical training sessions and technical meetings.  Dagmar Damkova of the Czech Republic will run the middle for the USA’s opener vs. France.

U.S. Quote Sheet:
U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan on France, the world’s 9th ranked team:
“They are talented and experienced.  Most of their starting lineup played in the 2003 Women’s World Cup.  Everybody knows about (Marinette) Pichon, she’s a great striker, but their midfield is also very strong.  They often play five in the midfield and all of those players are very technical.  They are very organized and they possess the ball very, very well.”

Ryan on training so far in the Algarve:
“Training has been great.  We made as much progress as we could make in one week with a group of players that haven’t played together regularly.” 

Ryan on the acclimation of the younger players on the roster:
“The older players have been great with the younger players.  They are including them in everything and helping them on and off the field.  It has really created a positive environment.”

Ryan on the contribution of the younger players:
“The younger players have demonstrated that they can hang with these veteran players in training, now they will have the chance to show if they can do the same in a match situation.”

U.S. midfielder Lindsay Tarpley on the mindset of the team heading into the Algarve Cup:
“It’s been a fun and productive week, but now we are really focusing on what we want to do on the field tomorrow.  The young players feel a responsibility to keep carrying on the tradition this team has created.  The veterans have been great setting the standard and showing the young players here what it takes to play at the international level.” 
If goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart plays against France, if will be the first time that a ‘keeper from Stanford University has played in goal for the full U.S. Women’s National Team.  Former Cardinal players have played on defense for the USA (Jessica Fischer, Ronnie Fair, Ally Marquand), in midfield (Julie Foudy) and at forward (Sarah Rafanelli and Marcie Ward).

U.S. forward Heather O’Reilly planning her Tuesday evening, which included a Champions League match featuring Manchester United vs. AC Milan:

“A massage, pizza, possibly crepes and ice cream, and Man U.  And it’s game day tomorrow.  Life just doesn’t get any better.”