The Algarve, Portugal
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
U.S. TEAM TO OPEN ALGARVE AGAINST DENMARK: The U.S. Women’s National Team plays its first match of the year on Wednesday, March 4, against Denmark to open the 2009 Algarve Cup. Fans can follow the action on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker starting at 7 a.m. ET, which gives the U.S. a rare noon local time kickoff as most Algarve Cup matches begin in the early afternoon. This will be the USA’s 14th Algarve Cup tournament dating back to 1994 and the Americans are defending champions, but with a country having to win its four-team group to advance to the championship game, each match and each point is extremely valuable. The USA is coming off a fantastic 2008 that featured a 33-1-2 record and the most ever wins in a calendar year. The U.S. Women also won all five tournaments in which it entered, including the 2008 Olympics, but now starts a 2009 that will be quite different, as the start of the new WPS will supply the majority of the players’ competitive matches during the year. Fans can follow all the Algarve Cup matches and standings, as well as links to other U.S. content, by clicking on the Algarve Cup competitions page.
VENUE CHANGE: The USA’s third match of group play against Norway has been changed from Albufeira to Ferreiras. The kickoff time remains the same. The U.S. team will get a chance to get some experience on the field as Ferreiras will also host the USA’s second group match against Iceland.
16th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
Germany, Sweden, China, Finland
USA, Norway, Denmark, Iceland
Portugal, Poland, Wales, Austria
U.S. WNT 2008 Algarve Cup Schedule
|Date||Opponent||Time (Local / ET)||Venue; City|
|March 4||Denmark||12 p.m. / 7 a.m.||Estadio Municipal; Lagos|
|March 6||Iceland||3 p.m. / 10 a.m.||Parque Desportiva da Nora; Ferreiras|
|March 9||Norway||3 p.m. / 11 a.m.||Parque Desportiva da Nora; Ferreiras|
|March 11||Placement Match||TBD||TBD|
ALGARVE DEBUTS: The Algarve Cup is a special place for several U.S. players who got their first ever full national team caps in past tournaments. Natasha Kai made her WNT debut at the Algarve Cup in 2006, scoring in her first two matches, against Denmark and France. Amy Rodriguez made her WNT debut at the 2005 Algarve Cup, playing in two matches off the bench, which were her only two caps of the year. Lori Chalupny didn’t make her debut at the Algarve Cup, but she did get her second, third and fourth caps at this tournament in 2001. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart got her first cap in goal at the Algarve Cup in 2005. She famously earned her first cap as a field player in 2004 when she had to play forward after the U.S. ran out of subs during a Fan Celebration Tour match after the 2004 Olympics.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF LAGOS, PORTUGAL: The USA’s opens the 2009 Algarve Cup in Lagos, a sleepy coastal town that features some of the Algarve coast’s most remarkable rock formations. For reasons still unknown, the U.S. team has struggled mightily in the tourist destination of under 20,000 inhabitants, losing five matches in Lagos during its history, far more than the U.S. women have lost in any other city in the world. In fact, the USA is 1-5-0 overall in Lagos (meaning Lakes) with all the matches of course coming at the Algarve Cup. Lagos has certainly been the site of some strangeness in the past. The USA’s first loss in Lagos was to Denmark in 1995. In 1998, the USA went into its final group match against Norway in such a comfortable position that even a 3-1 loss would have sent the Americans to the championship game. Perhaps it was too comfortable, as amazingly the USA lost 4-1. The only win in Lagos came in 2000, but it was a narrow 1-0 victory over Sweden on a goal from Mia Hamm. In 2001, the USA brought a young team to the Algarve Cup and massively out-shot Canada 21-5, yet lost 3-0. In 2002, it was Shannon MacMillan 2, Norway 3 in Lagos in a tournament that saw the former U.S. attacker score seven of the USA’s eight goals in the tournament. In 2004, the USA fell to Sweden 3-1, in Lagos, but the Americans have not played there since and will certainly be looking to reverse history against Denmark on Wednesday.
FAMILIAR PLACES, BUT NEW FACES: The matches at the 2009 Algarve Cup could mark the first significant minutes in a national team uniform for several players, including uncapped defender Kendall Fletcher, once-capped forward Tina DiMartino, four-capped midfielder Megan Rapinoe and six-capped midfielder Angie Woznuk. Midfielder Kacey White did see some action at the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but seven of her 15 caps came off the bench during the Achieve Your Gold Tour following the Olympics.
LAST YEAR AT THE ALGARVE: The USA won all four of its matches at the Algarve Cup last year, only the third time the team had achieved that feat. The USA started off with a dominating 4-0 win over China as four different players tallied, then won hard fought matches over Italy (2-0) and Norway (4-0) to earn a berth in the final, where they defeated Denmark by a 2-1 score. Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O’Reilly and Natasha Kai scored twice each during the tournament while Abby Wambach added three goals.
CHALUPNY NAMED U.S. CO-CAPTAIN: U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has named defender Lori Chalupny as the team’s co-captain. Defender Kate Markgraf was the team’s co-captain, but is taking time off due to her pregnancy. The honor for Chalupny comes on the eve of what will be her 88th cap for the USA when the team opens the Algarve Cup against Denmark. Defender Christie Rampone is of course the U.S. captain, and will continue to wear the armband during matches, but if for some reason she was not the on the field, the band would go to Chalupny, who will also take on more leadership responsibilities on and off the field. One of the USA’s most consistent performers over the past five years, the “Ginger Princess” has been hailed as one of the best left backs in the world and has shown to be one of the USA’s most talented all-around players.
WORLD POWERS COLLIDE: The Algarve Cup has long staked a claim as the world’s top women’s international tournament outside of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships, and that is backed up by the participation of five of the top-10 teams in the world according to the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings. Group A features No. 2 Germany, No. 4 Sweden and No. 13 China PR as well as No. 17 Finland, which will host the 2009 UEFA Women’s Championships this fall. Group A features the top-ranked United States, No. 6 Norway, No. 7 Denmark and No. 19 Iceland, which will be participating in the European Championships for the first time. By rankings, Poland (No. 31) would seem to be the favorite in Group C, along with Austria (No. 37), Portugal (No. 45) and Wales (No. 49), although the Poles lost all three group games last year at the Algarve Cup before defeating Ireland in the placement match for 11th place.
16th Annual Algarve Cup Participants
FIFA Women’s World Rankings
OPPONENT CAPSULE: Denmark
Current FIFA World Ranking: 7
All-Time Algarve Cup Results: 59-24-7
Overall Record vs. USA: 4-13-3
Denmark record vs. the USA at Algarve Cup: 1-7-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: March 12, 2008 in V. R. de San Antonio, Portugal (2-1 U.S. win at the 2008 Algarve Cup Final)
Coach: Tomas Bytoft
Algarve Cup Finals: 1995, 1998, 2001, 2007, 2008 (all second place finishes)
Key Players: GK Heidi Johansen, GK Tine Cederkvist Vsikær, D Mia Olsen, D Katrine Pedersen, M Cathrine Sørensen, M Camilla Sand, M Janne Madsen, M Johanna Rasmussen, F Julie Rydahl-Bukh, F Maiken Pape, F Merete Pedersen.
USA vs. Denmark Fast Facts: This match pits the participants in the 2007 and 2008 Algarve Cup Finals, both won by the USA, with the winner definitely get a leg up towards a berth in this year’s title game … It is the first meeting between the teams since the Algarve Cup last year … Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd scored in the 2-0 victory in 2007 and Natasha Kai and Abby Wambach tallied in the 2-1 win in 2008 … Since the 2004 Olympics, the USA has lost just three matches in regulation time and one was to Denmark (a 3-1 setback in December of 2004), but the USA has defeated the Danes four times since (with one draw) … This is the sixth time the USA and Denmark have been in the same group at the Algarve Cup … Denmark has won the group one time and the USA has won the group four times … The U.S. roster features 13 players who were members of the 2008 Olympic gold medal team … Denmark has a veteran-laden team, with two experienced goalkeepers and several long-time defenders, including captain Katrine Pederson … Denmark also features several dangerous attacking personalities, most notably veteran Merete Pedersen, physical striker Maiken Pape and dynamic flank midfielder Johanna Rasmussen … Denmark was drawn into Group B of the 2009 European Women’s Championships where it will be the group favorite against host Finland, Ukraine and the Netherlands … The Danes have a humdinger of an opening match, facing Finland on the first day of competition on Aug. 23 in Helsinki …Of the 17 players who played for the USA against Denmark in last year’s Algarve Cup Final, just 11 are on the U.S. roster this year … Of the 16 players who played for Denmark against the USA last year, 13 are on this year’s roster.
2009 U.S. Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2):18-Nicole Barnhart, 1-Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx, 4-Rachel Buehler, 17-Lori Chalupny, 13-Kendall Fletcher, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone
MIDFIELDERS (6): 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 21-Kacey White, 12-Angie Woznuk
FORWARDS (4): 19-Tina DiMartino, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 6-Natasha Kai, 5-Lindsay Tarpley
2009 Denmark Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Heidi Johansen, 16-Tine Cederkvist Vsikær
DEFENDERS (5): 2-Mia Olsen, 3-Katrine Pedersen, 4-Christina Ømtoft, 14-Marie Bjerg, 19-Marianne Pedersen
MIDFIELDERS (9): 5-Line Hansen, 6-Marianne Knudsen, 7-Cathrine Sørensen, 10-Camilla Sand, 12-Janne Madsen, 13-Johanna Rasmussen, 16-Sanne Troelsgaard, 18-Nanna Christiansen, 20-Tina Rasmussen
FORWARDS (4): 8-Julie Rydahl-Bukh, 9-Maiken Pape, 11-Merete Pedersen, 17-Nadia Nadim.
ALGARVE CUP QUICK HITS:
- Each team is allowed six substitutions per game. With the USA having 18 players on its roster, all the field players could see action should Sundhage decide to use all her allowed subs.
- In the event that teams are tied at the end of group play, the first tiebreaker is the result of the matches between two teams (head-to-head), the second is goal differential and the third is goals scored.
- The 24 matches of this year’s Algarve Cup will be played in eight different venues ranging from tiny stadiums that seat several thousand to the state-of-the art 30,000-seat Stadium Algarve, which will host the third place and championship games, as well as the Group A marquee match-up between Germany and Sweden.
- Of the three U.S. first-round opponents, Denmark and Norway have played in every Algarve Cup and Iceland will be playing its fifth tournament.
- Defender Heather Mitts could hit a career milestone if she plays in all four matches at the Algarve Cup. She would become the 25th female player in U.S. history to earn 100 caps. Mitts debuted for the USA in 1999, but earned just five caps from 1999-2003 until she broke out in 2004, playing 28 games.
- Christie Rampone will be playing in her ninth Algarve Cup, most of anyone on the U.S. team.
- The USA’s Algarve Cup rookies are Kendall Fletcher Tina DiMartino, Kacey White and Megan Rapinoe.
Stat of Note
The USA has averaged 8.46 goals per tournament and 2.15 goals per game over its 13 trips to the Algarve Cup, pretty impressive statistics considering the level of competition.