U.S. Women Will Face China, Denmark and France
Tournament Marks 11th Trip to Algarve Cup for WNT;
Lilly Needs One More Goal to Move Into Sole Possession of Second Place
On Women’s All-Time International Scoring List;
Five Players Named to Their First Algarve Cup Roster
CHICAGO (February 21, 2006) – Coming off a successful two-week training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., that ended last Sunday (Feb. 19), U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Greg Ryan has named 20 players who will travel to the 13th annual Algarve Cup, to be played from March 9-15, 2006, in southern Portugal.
The USA will play two of its opponents from the Four Nations Tournament in January – China and France – plus Denmark in first round play. The USA, which has been placed in Group B, opens the tournament against China on March 9 at São Luis Stadium in Faro, faces Denmark on March 11 at Municipal Stadium in Quarteira and finishes the first round against France on March 13 at Municipal Stadium in Albufeira. The U.S. team will leave for Europe on March 1.
This will be the 11th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have won an unprecedented three straight championships at what has become the world’s most competitive women’s international event outside of the Women's World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championship.
The USA will play France and Denmark in the first round of the Algarve Cup for the third year in a row. In 2004, the USA defeated France, 5-1, and posted a 1-0 win vs. Denmark. Last year, the Americans edged France, 1-0 before a 4-0 rout of Denmark. The USA-France match this year promises to be a good one as the two teams are coming off a 0-0 tie on January 20 in China at the Four Nations. The USA secured the Four Nations title on January 22 with a 2-0 win vs. China.
The USA broke a streak of four Algarve tournaments without a title in 2000 when they defeated Norway, 1-0, in the championship game. Including that first title, the USA has now won four of the last six Algarve Cups. The USA defeated China, 2-0, in the 2003 championship game, put together a resounding 4-1 victory over Norway in 2004, as Abby Wambach pounded in three goals, and held off a talented German side for a 1-0 win in last year’s championship game.
Fans can follow the USA’s grueling schedule of four games in seven days online at ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. Eurosport, the European equivalent of ESPN, will televise eight matches, including the championship game, the third-place match and the USA-France game.
Usually a 12-team tournament, there will be only 11 teams in 2006 as Group C contains just three nations. The 11-team Algarve Cup will feature four match days – March 9, 11, 13 and 15 – with five matches each day. Group A features Germany, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Group C features host Portugal, second-time participant Mexico and Ireland. All the games are played at small venues spread out over the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country with the placement matches being contested on March 15.
Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams five years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows, although with just 11 teams this year, there will be no 11th place match. The teams in Group A and B will compete for the title as the group winners will play in the championship game on Wednesday, March 15, at the beautiful Stadium Algarve, built for the 2004 European Championships. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-11 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A and B. The second place team in Group C will play worst fourth place team Groups A or B.
Six of the eight teams that played in the 2005 European Women’s Championship last summer in England will participate in this year’s Algarve Cup, with only Italy and England not attending.
The USA, which did not participate in 1996 or 1997, carries a 25-9-5 all-time tournament record into this year’s Algarve Cup. The U.S. Women’s National Team has lost just 50 total games in its 21-year history, meaning almost 20 percent of those losses have come at the Algarve Cup, which is representative of the toughness of this competition.
Last year, under then interim head coach Greg Ryan, the USA won all four games at the Algarve Cup for just the second time in 10 trips to the tournament. The USA also started a streak of shutouts under Ryan at that tournament that stretched all the way to January of this year when Norway scored against the USA on a penalty kick. The Americans have still yet to allow a goal from the run of play in the last 1,198 minutes dating back to the end of 2004.
Ryan named five players who made their first-ever Algarve Cup roster, including Natasha Kai, the only uncapped player. The 5-foot-8 forward will also be trying to make a bit of history on this trip. If she gets into a match, she will become the first-ever player from Hawaii to play for the full U.S. Women’s National Team.
Seventeen of the 20 players on the roster were on the U.S. side that won the Four Nations Tournament in the USA’s most recent competition. Included in that group are several players who have had some tremendous success at the Algarve Cup in the past.
In 2005, forward Christie Welsh scored five goals, including the game-winner in the 1-0 championship game win over Germany. It was the second-highest goal total in an Algarve Cup by a U.S. player, following the seven scored by Shannon MacMillan in 2002, a tournament in which the USA finished fifth.
In 2004, midfielder Shannon Boxx was named MVP of the tournament for her stellar play at defensive midfield despite not scoring a goal in the competition. That was also the year that Abby Wambach scored a hat trick in the 4-1 championship game win over Norway. In 2003, Aly Wagner scored two of her 19 career goals in 1-1 ties with Canada and Sweden, both on driven shots from distance. The two draws helped the USA reach the championship game.
The USA will also enjoy the veteran leadership of captain Kristine Lilly, who played forward during the three matches at the Four Nations and scored three goals. Lilly earned her historic 300th cap in China and will head to Portugal with 302 games played for the USA. The next-most capped player on the roster is defender Christie Rampone, who has played 138 games. Lilly, who also has 107 career goals, needs just one more score to become the second all-time leading scorer in the history of women’s international soccer. This will be her ninth appearance at the Algarve Cup, by far the most on the U.S. roster. She has scored nine career goals at the Algarve Cup.
The average age of the 20-woman roster is 24.5 with the youngest being 18-year-old forward Amy Rodriguez, a star of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team that will compete in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship next Fall in Russia. “A-Rod” earned her first, and thus far, only two caps at the Algarve Cup last year.
The U.S. roster features three experienced defenders in Rampone, Heather Mitts and Cat Whitehill, who returns to the U.S. side after missing the Four Nations due to her honeymoon. The other three defenders are young, but center backs Amy LePeilbet (12 caps) and Tina Frimpong (6 caps) played very well together at the Four Nations Tournament in the absence of Whitehill and the pregnant Kate Markgraf. Twenty-year-old defender India Trotter, a forward at Florida State, earned her first cap in a brief appearance at the Four Nations Tournament.
The two goalkeepers on the roster are Hope Solo, who has started 10 of the USA’s 12 matches over 2005 and 2006, earning a shutout in all but one, and Jenni Branam, who made her international debut at the Algarve Cup in 2000, but has not played in a match since July of that year.
UNITED STATES WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM ROSTER
2006 Algarve Cup
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jenni Branam (2), Hope Solo (3); DEFENDERS (6): Tina Frimpong (1), Amy LePeilbet (2), Heather Mitts (3), Christie Rampone (6), India Trotter (1), Cat Whitehill (6); MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (3), Carli Lloyd (1), Kristine Lilly (9), Marci Miller (1), Leslie Osborne (2), Lindsay Tarpley (4), Aly Wagner (5); FORWARDS (5): Natasha Kai (1), Heather O’Reilly (4), Amy Rodriguez (2), Abby Wambach (3), Christie Welsh (3).
Number of Algarve Cups attended, including 2006, in parenthesis.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan Colorado Springs, Colo.
Asst. Coach: Bret Hall St. Charles, Ill.
GK Coach: Mark Dougherty Littleton, Colo.
General Manager: Nils Krumins Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Team Physician: Dr. Steve Lucey Greensboro, N.C.
Team Physician: Dr. Scott Powell Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Medical Trainer: Julie O’Connell Chicago, Ill
Medical Trainer: Juliet Barnes Chicago, Ill.
Massage Therapist: Scott Street Atlanta, Ga.
Massage Therapist: Kara Mirarchi Greensboro, N.C.
Massage Therapist: Steve Jurch Charleston, Ill.
Mental Skills Coach: Jeff Troesch San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Equipment Manager: Zac Herndon Long Beach, Calif.
Team Security: Mark Pharris Atlanta, Ga.
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz Long Beach, Calif.
13th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
Norway, Sweden, Finland & Germany
USA, Denmark, France & China
Ireland, Portugal & Mexico
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