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Lauren Cheney

U.S. WNT Face Iceland for 2011 Algarve Title

U.S. Women’s National Team
2011 Algarve Cup Notes
The Algarve, Portugal
Tuesday, March 8  

USA TO MEET ICELAND FOR ALGARVE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. Women’s National Team is set for its unprecedented ninth consecutive Algarve Cup title game, where it will take on Iceland on Wednesday, March 9 in Faro at the fabulous Estadio Algarve, built for the 2004 European Championships. The championship game is set for 12 p.m. ET and fans can follow live on’s MatchTracker and Twitter @ussoccer_wnt.

NINE IN A ROW: No other country has made more than three consecutive finals with Norway playing in the 1996, 1997 and 1998 title matches, but the USA has now tripled that total. In the championship game awaits a tough and committed Iceland side that is playing in its first ever Algarve Cup title game and truth be told, likely one of the biggest matches in its women’s soccer history. Heavy rains have hit the Algarve region Monday and Tuesday, but hopefully the rain will not impact the field conditions as it did last year in the championship when the USA beat Germany on an extremely sloppy surface. For complete Algarve Cup results and standings, as well as links to other content on the U.S. WNT, visit’s Algarve Cup competition page.

ICELAND AT THE ALGARVE: The USA has faced Iceland at the last two Algarve Cups in 2009 and 2010 and Iceland has given the USA extremely competitive matches. The U.S. last faced Iceland in the opening match of the 2010 Algarve Cup, an wild affair in which the USA scored two goals in two minutes during the second half and U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo saved a penalty kick in both halves during a 2-0 victory. When the USA met Iceland at the 2009 Algarve Cup, the Americans had to wait until the 90th minute for a goal by Natasha Kai in a 1-0 victory. Last year, Meghan Schnur (who was playing in her first career game for the USA) created the first goal on a fantastic run down the left wing, whipping a hard left-footed cross into the goal mouth that Iceland defender Sif Atladóttir tried to clear, but instead headed into her own net. Lauren Cheney bagged her goal one minute after Atladóttir’s mistake. Cheney roared toward goal on a breakaway off a pass from Lori Lindsey, who was playing in just her second WNT game, and spun her shot into the right corner from 14 yards out.

SOLO SAVES TWO: Last year against Iceland, Hope Solo became the first U.S. goalkeeper to save two penalty kicks in the same match. In the 12th minute, Cat Whitehill fouled Iceland’s star striker Margret Vidarsdóttir and the referee did not hesitate in pointing the penalty spot. Vidarsdóttir, Iceland’s top scorer in the Algarve Cup with 14 goals through this tournament, stepped up to take the kick herself. She hit it hard, but not that accurately, and Solo dove to her right, stabbing her right hand down to turn the ball away.

ONE MORE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS: In stoppage time of the second half, Rachel Buehler hit a short back pass to Solo that was a bit high and hard and the U.S. ‘keeper, who was positioned near top of the box, collected the ball with a sprinting Iceland forward coming at her. All three players got into a scrum for the ball in the top of the penalty box with players falling over each other. Before it was over, Solo had her right arm stomped on, Buehler was called for tugging the Iceland attacker’s jersey (and shown a yellow card) and the referee called a penalty kick. It took Solo a few minutes to shake off the effects of the stomping, and after a warning from the referee to get on her line, she stared down 63rd minute substitute Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdóttir. As the kick was taken, Solo took a step to her right and flew to the post to spectacularly knock the ball down. It looked for a moment like Thorvaldsdóttir would be first to the rebound, but the U.S. defenders converged to clear the ball away.

GROUP A RECAP: The USA finished group play on a high note with a 4-0 win against Finland that could have been more if not for some excellent saves from goalkeeper Minna Meriluoto. The USA had already clinched a berth to the title game after victories against Japan and Norway, which met in their Group A finale. Japan came out with a 1-0 victory on a 58th minute goal from Yuki Nagasato. With the win, Japan finished second in the group and earned a match against Sweden for third place.

GROUP B RECAP: Group B came down to the wire, but when Denmark missed a penalty kick against Iceland, and then Iceland scored in the 55th minute through Dóra Lárusdáttir, that was all they needed to secure its third group win and a place in the championship game. Sweden rallied from its opening game loss to Iceland to defeat both Denmark and China, the latter by a 1-0 score on a goal from star forward Lotta Schelin, and earn a meeting with Japan in the third place match. Denmark will meet Norway for fifth place. 

GROUP C RECAP: Wales defeated Chile 2-1 on two goals from Jessica Fishlock to win Group C and earn a place against the best fourth-place finish from Groups A and B, which turned out to be China. In the other Group C match, Portugal and Romania tied 0-0, giving the hosts second place in the group and a match for ninth place against Finland. Romania and Chile will play for 11th place. Romania defeated Chile, 2-0, in the first group match.

Placement Matches
Match                          Teams                                 Kickoff (ET)      Venue
11th Place Match         Romania vs. Chile                   5:30 a.m.         Parchal           
9th Place Match           Portugal vs. Finland                6 a.m.              Loulé
7th Place Match           Wales vs. China                      6 a.m.              Albufeira                                            
5th Place Match           Norway vs. Denmark               6 a.m.              Ferreiras         
3rd Place Match           Sweden vs. Japan                   8:30 a.m.         Parchal                                              
Championship           USA vs. Iceland                  12 p.m.            Faro               

Current FIFA World Ranking: 17   
All-Time Algarve Cup Results: 12-12-3
Overall USA Record vs. Iceland: 10-0-1
USA record vs. Iceland at Algarve Cup:
USA most recent meeting with Iceland: Feb. 24, 2010 (a 2-0 victory by the USA at the Algarve Cup)
Iceland Head Coach: Sigurdur Eyjolfsson
Iceland Algarve Cup Finals: 2011
Iceland Key Players: G Thóra Helgadóttir, D Sif Altadóttir, D Katrín Johnsdóttir, M Edda Gardarsdóttir, M Dóra Larusdóttir, F Margret Vidarsdóttir

USA vs. Iceland Fast Facts: This is the USA’s 16th appearance at the Algarve Cup and Iceland’s seventh … The USA and Iceland played a match for the ages on Sept. 25, 2004, in Rochester, N.Y., with the USA building a 3-0 lead on two goals from hometown hero Abby Wambach and one from Mia Hamm … Iceland then preceded to score three goals in six minutes, a record against the USA, to tie the game … Heather Mitts won the game in the third minute of stoppage time to send the sell-out crowd at Frontier Field into a frenzy … Christie Rampone and Wambach are the only players on the 2011 Algarve Cup roster who played in that game … Iceland’s lone tie with the USA came on April 8, 2000, in Charlotte, N.C., when the U.S. starters tied 0-0 two days after the U.S. reserves had defeated the same team 8-0 … Iceland’s goalkeeper in those games was Thóra Helgadóttir, a former standout at Duke University who always has good games against the USA … The USA has scored eight goals in the tournament from six different players with Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan registering two each …Iceland has scored five total goals with Margret Vidarsdóttir accounting for three, including both in the 2-0 win over China … Both teams have given up just one goal in the tournament, both coming in their first games followed by two shutouts … 10 players on the USA’s game roster played against Iceland in the Algarve Cup match last year while 12 players from Iceland’s roster featured in that match … The USA has never lost in regulation at the Estadio Algarve, going 4-0-2, but did fall in its two penalty kick shootouts in the final in 2006 and 2009 … Iceland has 10 players playing club soccer abroad, eight in Sweden, one in Germany and midfielder Thórunn Jonsdóttir, who played at the University of Rhode Island, plays in Brazil.

2011 U.S. Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Philadelphia Independence), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Western New York Flash)
DEFENDERS (6): 19-Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), 14-Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), 25-Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash), 11-Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), 3-Christie Rampone (magicJack's Washington Freedom), 22-Becky Sauerbrunn (magicJack's Washington Freedom)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 7-Shannon Boxx (magicJack's Washington Freedom), 17-Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC), 16-Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), 10-Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), 21-Kelley O’Hara (Boston Breakers), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (magicJack's Washington Freedom)
FORWARDS (4): 12-Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), 13-Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), 20-Abby Wambach (magicJack's Washington Freedom)

2011 Iceland Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Thóra Helgadóttir (LDB Malmo, Sweden), 12-Gudbjorg Gunnarsdóttir (Djurgarden, Sweden)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Sif Altadóttir (FC Saarbrucken, GER), 3-Ólina Vidarsdóttir (KIF Orebro, Sweden), 5-Hallbera Gisladóttir (Valur), 8-Katrín Johnsdóttir (Djurgarden, Sweden), 15-Malfridur Sigurdardóttir (Valur), 19-Thelma Einarsdóttir (Valur)
MIDFIELDERS (9): 4-Edda Gardarsdóttir (KIF Orebro, Sweden), 6-Katrín Omarsdóttir (Kristianstads DFF, Sweden), 7-Sara Gunnarsdóttir (Breidablik), 10-Dóra Larusdóttir (Djurgarden, Sweden), 11-Rakel Logadóttir (Valur), 13-Rakel Honnundóttir (Thor), 14-Greta Samuelsdóttir (Breidablik), 17-Dagny Brynjarsdóttir (Valur), 20-Thórunn Jonsdóttir (Santos, Brazil)
FORWARDS (3): 9-Margret Vidarsdóttir (Kristianstads DFF, Sweden), 16-Fanndís Fridriksdóttir (Breidablik), 18-Berglind Bjorg Thorvaldsdóttir (IBV)

WHAT’S IN AN ICELANDIC NAME?: Whenever the U.S. Women play Iceland (which is not that often, only 11 times in history in fact), we like to bring out the following explanation of the seemingly strange Icelandic names. Our apologies if you’ve read this before, but it’s worth explaining. Contrary to most other places in the world, Iceland is not very fond of "surnames" and EVERYBODY is on a first name basis. (Yes, even with the president!) This is because there are hardly any "family names" in Iceland. No family names? How do you recognize each other and who belongs to whom? Well, it's simple really. The Icelandic people are descendants from Vikings and they kept track of people by recognizing who was their father, as in "Helgi son of Ólafur the Brave, son of Leifur the Large" (not an actual example). Thus was born the tradition of naming children after their father's first name. So the way it works in Iceland is that boys are given first names and then their father's first name + "son" as a "surname". Girls on the other hand are given first names and then their father's first name + "dóttir" (as in "daughter") as a "surname".

A hypothetical example:
Father = Ragnar Helgason
Mother = Inga Bjarnadóttir
Their son = Leifur Ragnarsson
Their daughter = Anna Ragnarsdóttir

Or, if Abby Wambach, whose dad’s name is Peter, was Icelandic, her name would be Abby Petersdottir.Referring to the family by their "surnames" is therefore pointless and everyone goes by their first names. Women also don't take their husband's surname when they get married as it would mess everything up. It's also worth mentioning that most Icelanders can trace back their family-line to the 13th century or so (Iceland was first settled in the 9th century), so this system appears to be working.

VIDEO ALGARVE: There are plenty of highlights from the U.S. games on, but we’ve also put together a few videos. You can check out the USA’s first training, a Trick Shot Battle between Tobin Heath and Yael Averbuch, some highlights of the USA’s training match vs. Portugal, an update on the comeback from shoulder surgery by goalkeeper Hope Solo and a look at Rachel Buehler’s pre-practice rituals.

RUN FOR GERMANY: American referee Kari Seitz and assistant referees Veronica Perez and Marlene Duffy are at the Algarve Cup undergoing two weeks of intensive evaluation before FIFA chooses the officials for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. Highlighted in a video, the referees talk about the evaluation in Portugal on their way to refereeing the third place match on March 9.

PRE-FINAL QUOTES: A press conference for both coaches and team captains was held the day before the Algarve Cup Final and this is what U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, Iceland head coach Sigurdur Eyjolfsson, Christie Rampone and Katrin Jonsdottir had to say.

Stat of Note
Twelve players have scored for the USA in Algarve Cup Finals, led by Abby Wambach who has found the net five times in Algarve title games, including a hat trick in a 4-1 win over Norway in 2004. Carli Lloyd scored in the 2007 and 2010 Algarve Cup Finals. The others are some of the top scorers in U.S. history: Brandi Chastain, Shannon MacMillan, Mia Hamm, Lindsay Tarpley, Christie Welsh, Kristine Lilly, Natasha Kai, Shannon Boxx and Lauren Cheney.