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U.S. WNT Face Iceland In Second 2009 Algarve Cup Match

U.S. Women’s National Team
The Algarve, Portugal
Thursday, March 5, 2009

U.S. WOMEN FACE ICELAND IN SECOND MATCH OF ALGARVE CUP: Coming off a solid 2-0 victory over Denmark in the opening match of the 2009 Algarve Cup, the USA will now face Iceland on Friday, March 6, in Ferreiras, a venue at which the USA has won its five previous matches. The weather in the Algarve has been unseasonably windy and chilly, but temperatures are forecast to warm up a bit for the USA-Iceland clash, which fans can follow on’s MatchTracker at 10 a.m. ET. The USA is in second place in the group (on goals scored) after Iceland’s huge 3-1 upset of Norway in its first game, and the victor in this next match will take a major step towards winning Group B and earning a spot in the championship game. In fact, a U.S. win over Iceland coupled with a Norway loss to Denmark would put the USA into the championship with one group game still left 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 2008 Algarve Cup Schedule
Date Opponent Time / Result U.S. Goal Scorer(s) Venue; City
March 4 Denmark 2-0 W Woznuk, DiMartino Estadio Municipal; Lagos
March 6 Iceland 3 p.m. / 10 a.m. ET   Parque Desportiva da Nora; Ferreiras
March 9 Norway 3 p.m. / 11 a.m. ET   Parque Desportiva da Nora; Ferreiras
March 11 Placement Match TBD   TBD

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

GROUP A RECAP: The Germans, who have struggled at the Algarve Cup the past two years, finishing fourth in 2008 and eighth in 2007 after winning the tournament in 2006, opened this year’s tournament with a 2-0 victory over 2009 UEFA Women’s Championship host Finland as veterans Melanie Behringer and Kerstin Garefrekes scored. In the other Group A match, Sweden played a lackluster 0-0 draw with China PR. The Germans can take control of the group with a victory over China on the second match day while the Swedes will try to stay in contention for a berth in the title game with a victory over the Fins.

GROUP C RECAP: Both matches in Group C finished with 2-1 scores as host Portugal battled for a victory over Poland while Austria downed Wales. Portugal’s goals came from Ana Borges and Edite Fernandes.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 19
All-Time Algarve Cup Results: 7-6-3
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-8-2
Iceland Record vs. the USA at Algarve Cup: First meeting
Last Meeting vs. USA: October 8, 2006, in Richmond, Va. (2-1 W)
Head Coach: Sigurdur Ragnar Eyjolfsson
Algarve Cup Finals: None
Key Players: GK María Bjorg Águstsdóttir, D Gúdrun Gunnarsdóttir, D Ólina Gudbjörg Vidarsdóttir, D Katrin Jónsdóttir, M Edda Gardarsdóttir, M Hólmfridur Magnusdóttir, M Dóra Stefansdóttir, M Dóra Maria Larusdóttir, M Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, M Erla Steina Arnardóttir, F Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir

USA vs. Iceland Fast Facts: Iceland is coming off one of its biggest ever wins, a 3-1 stunner over Norway in the Algarve Cup opener for both teams. The team will no doubt be sky high with energy for the meeting with the USA as a berth in the championship game – which would be a first for Iceland in its fifth Algarve Cup – is on the line … Iceland has never finished higher than sixth at the Algarve Cup … Two of Iceland’s three goals against Norway came off crosses, one off a set play … Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir scored two of Iceland’s goals against Norway and is currently the leading scorer in the tournament as no other player tallied more than once on the first match day … Iceland is also preparing for its first-ever appearance at the UEFA Women’s Championship, finishing second behind France in Group 3 of qualifying and then defeating Ireland on a 4-1 aggregate score in a two-leg playoff series as Dóra María Lárusdóttir scored twice in the historic 3-0 second leg win in Reykjavik … Iceland is in a group with Germany, Norway and France, so the going will be tough, but the Algarve Cup win against Norway surely has bolstered their spirits … Iceland’s domestic league doesn’t start until May, but several players compete for clubs in Sweden, including two for KIF Orebro, where U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage used to coach … Iceland has several veteran leaders, including defender and team captain Katrin Jonsdottir and midfielders Edda Gardarsdottir and Erla Arnardottir, the latter two of which scored against the USA in 2004 in the infamous 4-3 U.S. victory (see below) … The USA may owe Iceland a trip to Reykjavik as the pervious nine games between the teams were all played in the United States.

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, 6-Natasha Kai, 8-Amy Rodriguez, 5-Lindsay Tarpley

2009 Iceland Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1- María Bjorg Águstsdóttir, 12-Gudbörg Gunnarsdóttir
DEFENDERS (5): 2- Gúdrun Gunnarsdóttir, 3- Ólina Gudbjörg Vidarsdóttir, 5-Ásta Árnadóttir, 8-Katrin Jonsdóttir, 18-Sif Altadóttir
MIDFIELDERS (11): 4-Edda Gardarsdóttir, 6- Hólmfridur Magnusdóttir, 7-Dóra Stefansdóttir, 10-Dóra Maria Larusdóttir, 11- Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, 13-Gudný Björk Odinsdóttir, 14-Erna Björk Sigurdardóttir, 15-Hallbera Gudný Gisladóttir, 16-Erla Steina Arnardóttir, 17-Rakel Hönnudóttir, 20-Katrin Ómarsdóttir
FORWARDS (2): 9- Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir, 19-Harpa Thorsteinsdóttir

U.S. Head Coach Pia Sundhage

On Iceland:
“I think Iceland is a team with a big heart. Some of the players play in the Swedish league and they are pretty skillful. They might play a 4-5-1 and have a player up top who is pretty tricky. They work really hard and they know they have a chance to get a point and maybe win the game so that kind of underdog feeling is significant for the match.”

On Iceland coming off a big victory over Norway:
“They will be ready to go. They are playing in the European championships in August and they are coming into this game with great confidence after getting a big win over a great team like Norway.”

On what she is focusing on for the match:
“We are looking at the midfield. We are taking a lot of risks in the attack and of course that means sometimes you get a counter-attack. I think that was one of the reason’s Denmark got a couple of chances against us. But on the other hand, we do have a great goalkeeper and a great back line, whoever is playing back there. I think it’s worthwhile to take the risk because if you want to improve certain things, you really need to exaggerate that and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. We are more thinking about going into the attacking third than playing careful and safe, but we still want to win the game of course.”

WHAT’S IN AN ICELANDIC NAME?: Whenever the U.S. Women play Iceland, which has happened only nine times in WNT history, we like to bring out the following explanation (that we found on the Internet) of the seemingly strange Icelandic names. Contrary to most other places in the world, little ol' 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 Heather Mitts, whose dad’s name is Donald, was Icelandic, her name would be Heather Donaldsdottir and her brother Brian would be Brian Donaldsson.

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 ninth century), so this system appears to be working.

USA vs. ICELAND HISTORY: The USA and Iceland have met nine times in their history, with the USA holding a 8-0-1 advantage in the series, but the meeting on Sept. 25, 2004, in Rochester, N.Y., produced some shocking results, as Iceland scored its first-ever goals on the USA, all in a six-minute span. The USA has allowed three or more goals in a game just 16 times over the last 25 years and 434 games, but never has the USA allowed three goals in such a short span. But the Iceland-USA series is no stranger to strangeness. The two teams played one of the most unusual two-game series in U.S. history in April of 2000 as the USA downed Iceland, 8-0, on April 5 using a team of mostly young players, then tied 0-0 three days later with a team of mostly veteran players as Iceland goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir, a Duke graduate, played a brilliant match. The first six matches between the teams were either blowouts (6-0 and 8-0) or close games (two 1-0 wins, 0-0 tie and a 4-3 win), but the last three meetings have featured two 3-0 U.S. victories and the most recent, a 2-1 U.S. victory in Richmond, Va., where Abby Wambach scored the game-winner in the waning moments of the match. Those results have been positive for such a small soccer country, which features about 300,000 people and a very small number of registered female players, as well as a national stadium in the capital of Reykjavík that seats just 14,000.

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Stat of Note
The win over Denmark in the USA’s first match of the year marked the 19th time the USA has won its first game of a calendar year. The USA has tied three year-opening matches and lost three.