U.S. Women's National Team Prepares for Algarve Cup Fifth Place Match vs. Norway
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%USA PREPARES FOR 5TH PLACE MATCH VS. NORWAY: The U.S. Women's National Team will finish up the Algarve Cup tomorrow with a match against Norway, certainly not an opponent anyone would expect to face in a 5th place match. However, because of Norway's 2-0 loss to China and their inability to score more than one goal in a victory over Denmark, the Olympic champions were relegated to the match for fifth place and will face the USA for the first time since the Olympic Gold medal match. Norway will feature eight players who played in the Olympic final while the USA will feature 20 players who watched the game on TV from the United States, making for a daunting task for the young U.S. team, who have outplayed or played even with every opponent on the European Tour, only to compile a 1-3 record thus far. The USA will kick off at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) in Quarteira, a painfully early start time that forces the Americans to eat breakfast at 7 a.m. Norway will throw out three WUSA players against the USA in goalkeeper Bente Nordby (Carolina Courage), midfield Hege Riise (Carolina Courage) and forward Dagny Mellgren (Boston Breakers), who had a quiet game against Denmark, which doesn't bode well for the USA. Even if Norway wins, it will be their lowest finish ever in the Algarve Cup after racking up four championships, one second-place finish and two thirds in the last seven years. The coach that led Norway in the 1999 Women's World Cup and to the Olympic gold medal, Per Mathias Hogmo, stepped down to coach a professional men's team, and Norway's new coach Age Steen, has had an inauspicious start as his team heads into the European Championships in June. It will also be the lowest finish ever for the USA in the tournament, having never placed below fourth.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THE COLOR RED: The USA will wear red jerseys, blue shorts and red socks against Norway tomorrow. In the USA's one win on the European tour vs. Portugal, they wore red-blue-red. In the three losses they wore their home strip of white-white-white.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%FIRST DAY OFF: The USA enjoyed its first day off from training or playing on the tour last Wednesday before the Sweden game, and the players took advantage with morning walks, some shopping and some pool time. Most U.S. players, having neglected their schoolwork far too much thus far, buckled down and did some serious studying at the end of the week.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%INJURY REPORT: At the end of the trip, while nursing some soreness from the hectic game and playing schedule, all U.S. players are finally healthy and ready to go.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF NOTE: Jena Kluegel leads the USA in minutes played in 2001 with 483 out of a possible 540.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%END OF A LONG TRIP NEARS: After 16 days on the road in two countries and after having played five games, the U.S. team will return to the United States on Monday. The USA could not get a flight out of Portugal on Sunday, and will travel back to the United States on Monday morning, with most players arriving at their final destinations on Monday night.