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Second Group B Match Looms Large as USA Faces Norway

U.S. Women’s National Team
2010 Algarve Cup Notes
The Algarve, Portugal
Thursday, Feb. 25

SECOND MATCH OF GROUP B LOOMS LARGE AT ALGARVE CUP AS USA FACES NORWAY: The USA sits atop Group B with three points after defeating Iceland 2-0 in the opening game of the Algarve Cup on Feb. 24, but the meeting with Norway on Feb. 26 in Olhão (10 a.m. ET on’s MatchTracker) looms large in determining the group’s representative in the Algarve Cup final. Sweden and Norway drew 2-2, giving each team one point, which means a U.S. victory against Norway would put them firmly in control of the group. The group winners will play for the championship on March 3. While it’s way too early to expound on advancement scenarios in detail, a U.S. win coupled with a Sweden tie or loss to Iceland would put the USA in the championship with one group game still to play. For complete Algarve Cup results and standings, as well as links to other U.S. content, click on the Algarve Cup competition page.

U.S. WNT 2010 Algarve Cup Schedule
Date         Opponent             Result/Time (ET)     Goalscorers             Venue
Feb. 24     Iceland                 2-0 W                     Own goal, Cheney   Estadio Municipal, VR de SA,
Feb. 26     Norway                10 a.m.                                                Estadio Jose Arcanjo , Olhão
March 1    Sweden                 10 a.m.                                               Parque Desportiva da Nora ,Ferreiras
March 3    Placement Match    TBD                                                    TBD

Group B
Team  W   L   T  GF  GA  GD  Pts.
USA    1   0   0    2    0   +2    3
SWE    0   0   1    2    2    0     1
NOR   0   0   1    2    2     0     1
ISL     0   1   0    0    2    -2     0

Feb. 24
USA 2, Iceland 0
Sweden 2, Norway 2

Feb. 26
Norway vs. USA
Sweden vs. Iceland

March 1
USA vs. Sweden
Norway vs. Iceland

GROUP A RECAP: The Germans have struggled at the Algarve Cup the past three years, finishing fourth in 2008 and 2009 and eighth in 2007 after winning the tournament in 2006, but that streak seems to be over. The Germans were coming off a solid 3-0 victory against Korea DPR in a friendly match in Germany prior to traveling to the Algarve, and they thrashed Denmark 4-0 in their opening game. The Germans got goals from Melanie Behringer, who missed the match with the USA last October due to injury, Birgit Prinz and two from in-form striker Inka Grings. With China and Finland drawing 1-1 (China’s goal came from former L.A. Sol striker Han Duan), Germany is solidly in control of the group heading into its second match against Finland.

GROUP B RECAP: Sweden actually fell behind Norway 2-0 after just 12 minutes with Lindy Melissa Wiik and Marit Christensen scoring. Norway looked to be taking the game to Sweden in the first part of the match, but the Swedes took over thereafter and were unfortunate not to fashion a victory. Sweden pulled a goal back in the 20th minute through Linda Sembrant and then tied the game in the 53rd through Sky Blue FC forward Jessica Landstrom, who proved to be quite a handful when paired with Sweden star Lotta Schelin.

GROUP C RECAP: Portugal was not a gracious host to the Faroe Islands during its first-ever Algarve Cup match as the Portugese won 5-0 behind a hat trick from captain Edite Fernandes and a brace from Sofia Viera. Romania showed why they are ranked 36th in the world to Austria’s 39th, winning 2-0 on goals from Cosmina Dusa and Laura Rus.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 7
All-Time Algarve Cup Results: 39-16-8
Overall Record vs. USA: 19-24-2
Norway record vs. the USA at Algarve Cup: 4-6-1
Last Meeting vs. USA: March 9, 2009 (a 1-0 U.S. win at the 2009 Algarve Cup)
Coach: Eli Landsem
Algarve Cup Finals: 7 (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004). Norway won the Algarve Cup in 1994, 1997 and 1998.
Key Players: G Ingrid Hjelmseth, D Marit Christensen, M Ingvild Stensland, M Solveig Gulbrandsen, F Lindy Melissa Wiik, F Leni Larsen Kaurin.

USA vs. Norway Fast Facts: For years, Norway was the only team in the world with a winning record against the USA, but an unprecedented 10-game winning streak for the USA (2002-2008), that ended with the loss to Olympics, reversed that trend and the USA now holds a 24-19-2 edge in the all-time series … Still, no country in the world has beaten the USA more times than Norway and no team has beaten the USA more times at the Algarve Cup than Norway (4) … Norway has a new coach in Eli Landsem … The 47-year-old took over last October and led Norway through its first two World Cup qualifiers, a 3-0 win against the Netherlands and a 1-0 victory against Slovakia … Landsem, who had extensive success as head coach of Stabæk FK, formerly known as Asker SK, is Norway's first female senior coach … Several top players who had quit the national team program under the previous coach have returned to the squad, including 6-foot defender Marit Christensen and midfielder Lise Klaveness … Norwegian center midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen, long one of the best in the world at her position, is headed to the San Francisco Bay Area to play for FC Gold Pride during this upcoming WPS season … Both the USA and Norway scored two goals to open its Algarve Cup, but one of the USA’s was knocked in by an Iceland player … Lindy Melissa Wiik and Christensen, on a great looping header, scored Norway’s goals … U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage used four substitutes in the first match … The only field players who didn’t see action were Heather Mitts and Megan Rapinoe … The USA is 1-0-1 at the Algarve Cup in Olhão, but has not played there since 2003, a 1-1 tie with Canada … The USA and Norway are tied for all-time wins at the Algarve Cup with 39, so the winner of this match will take a slight edge in that statistic … Norway has seven players who play professionally outside of their home country, an unusually large number for a women’s national team … Three players, GK Christine Nilsen, captain Ingvild Stensland and forward Isabel Herlovsen play for Olympique Lyon in France, Lindy Melissa Wiik (Wolfsburg) and Leni Larsen Kaurin (Frankfurt) play in Germany, while Gulbrandsen and Lene Mykjaland (Wasington Freedom) will head to the USA shortly after the Algarve Cup … Norway lost all three group games at last year’s Algarve Cup and finished ninth, defeating Austria, 2-0 in its placement match, so the three-time Algarve champs will be motivated to get back among the top four for sure.

2010 U.S. Algarve Cup Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), 24-Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), 1-Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica)
DEFENDERS (6): 26-Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), 14-Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), 6-Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), 2-Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), 17-Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC), 4-Cat Whitehill (Washington Freedom)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 12-Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue FC), 7-Shannon Boxx (St. Louis Athletica), 5-Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), 13-Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS (4): 11-Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), 15-Casey Nogueira (Chicago Red Stars), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), 20-Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

2010 Norway Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Ingrid Hjelmseth (Stabæk), 12-Christine Nilsen (Lyon)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Toril Akerhaugen (Stabæk), 3-Marit Christensen (Røa), 6-Lise Marie Woods (Kolbotn), 7-Trine Rønning (Stabek), 15-Hedda Gardsjord (Røa), 17-Maren Mjelde (Arna/Bjørnar)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 4-Ingvild Stensland (Lyon), 5-Gry Tofte Ims (Klepp), 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen (FC Gold Pride), 14-Lise Klaveness (Stabæk), 18-Guro Knutsen Mienna (Røa), 20-Lena Storløkken (LSK Kvinner)
FORWARDS (6): 9-Isabel Herlovsen (Lyon), 10-Lindy Melissa Wiik (Wolfsburg), 11-Leni Larsen Kaurin (Frankfurt), 13-Cecilie Pedersen (Avaldsnese), 16-Elisa Thorsnes (Røa), 19-Lene Mykjaland (Washington Freedom)

ASK CHENEY: Ever wonder what it’s like to get tackled by Rachel Buehler? Young U.S. forward Lauren Cheney, who scored in the USA’s 2-0 victory over Iceland to open the Algarve Cup, will tell you, and much more as she answers 11 Questions for

COX FROM VILAMOURA HARBOUR TO GIG HARBOR: Stephanie Cox left the quiet confines of Gig Harbor, Wash., for the quiet confines of the Algarve. She lets the folks back at home know what was going on early in the trip in this e-Postcard from Portugal.

ALGARVE TOP-FIVE: There have been many great U.S. performances at the Algarve Cup, but we chose these five as our all-time best.

GLAMOUR AND GRIT: U.S. defender Heather Mitts has earned acclaim as a TV host, a model and a sideline reporter for ESPN, but the key to her soccer success has come far from the spotlight, doing the work that is far from glamorous. Read about how she’s fashioned herself a great career at right back for the USA.

FOE TO FRIEND: U.S. Women’s National Team assistant coach Hege Riise was one of the greatest players of her generation. A sublime passer and phenomenal goal scorer from the midfield, she gave the USA fits for many years, but now she is giving her knowledge and experience to the U.S. team.

Stat of Note
U.S. assistant coach Hege Riise is tied for second on Norway’s all-time scoring list at the Algarve Cup with 12 goals, the same number Abby Wambach currently has in her Algarve Cup career.