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WNT Set to Attend Algarve Cup; Roster Includes Balance of Veteran, Youth Talent


CHICAGO (February 18, 2005) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will see its first action of 2005 on foreign soil as the team will travel to southern Portugal for the 12th annual Algarve Cup, to be played from March 9-15, 2005.  The USA will play three top European teams in group play, opening the tournament against France on March 9, facing Finland on March 11 and finishing the first round against Denmark on March 13.  The U.S. team will leave for Europe on March 1.

The USA played France and Denmark in the first round of last year’s tournament, winning 5-1 and 1-0 respectively on the way to the tournament title in 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.

This will be the 10th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who broke a streak of four Algarve tournaments without a title in 2000 when they defeated China, 2-0, in the championship game. Including that first title, the USA has now won three of the last five tournaments, also bringing home first-place trophies the past two years.  The USA defeated Norway, 1-0, in 2003 championship game and put together a resounding 4-1 victory over Norway last year as Abby Wambach pounded in three goals.

None of the Algarve Cup matches will be televised, but fans can follow the USA’s grueling schedule of four games in seven days online at ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

The 12-team Algarve Cup will feature four match days – March 9, 11, 13 and 15 – with six matches each day.  The USA has been placed in Group B, while Group A features Germany, Sweden, China and Norway.  Group C features host Portugal, first-time participant Mexico, England and Northern 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. The venues for all the matches will be announced shortly.

Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams four years ago, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows.  The teams in Group A and B will compete for the title as the group winners will play in the championship game on Tuesday, March 15.  The two second-place group 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 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the fourth place team in Group A, the second place team in Group C will play the fourth place team in Group B and the third and fourth place finishers in Group C will play each other again.

Seven of the eight teams that qualified for the 2005 European Women’s Championship to be held in June in England will participate in this year’s Algarve Cup, with only Italy not attending.

The USA has not played France since last year’s Algarve Cup.  The French, who have never defeated the USA in nine tries, will surely be looking for some redemption after last year’s four-goal loss as they head into their Euro ’05 championship campaign.  The USA has not played Finland since 2002, but holds a 9-0-0 all-time record in a series that has seen the Finns score just one goal.  The USA will be looking for some redemption of their own against Denmark, one of just two teams to defeat the USA in 2004, handing the Americans a 3-1 loss (as well as a 1-1 tie) on the “Fan Celebration Tour” after the Olympics.  The USA is 9-4-2 all-time against the Danes. The USA has played Denmark four times at the Algarve Cup, winning three games and losing once way back in 1995.
The USA, which did not participate in 1996 or 1997, will carry a 21-9-5 all-time tournament record into this year’s Algarve Cup.  The U.S. Women’s National Team has lost just 50 games in its 20-year history, meaning almost 20 percent of those losses have come at the Algarve Cup. 

With the resignation of April Heinrichs last Tuesday, U.S. interim head coach Greg Ryan will lead the team in Portugal. Ryan has called in an exciting combination of players that includes 10 members of the gold medal winning team at the 2004 Olympics. The average age of the other 10 players on the 20-woman roster is just 21. Four of those players are uncapped, but all of them have extensive experience with the U.S. youth national teams.

"We are taking a team to Portugal that has a great balance between experienced gold medallists and talented young players as the Women's National Team program begins its road to China in 2007," said Ryan.  "This is one of the most difficult tournaments in the world to win, and I know this group will attack that challenge with energy and enthusiasm."

Leading the way is forward Abby Wambach, who enjoyed the second most prolific scoring year in U.S. history in 2004, pounding in 31 goals in the final 30 matches she played in 2004.  Wambach will be looking for more success at the Algarve Cup after scoring four goals in last year’s tournament. 

The USA will also enjoy the veteran leadership of midfielder Kristine Lilly, who with a world record 291 caps, will go to Portugal with 154 more caps than her next closest teammate (Kate Markgraf with 137).  Lilly, who also has 101 career goals, is just nine caps short of becoming the first player in the history of international soccer, man or woman, to hit 300 caps.  This will be her eighth appearance at the Algarve Cup, by far the most on the U.S. roster.  Defender Lorrie Fair, an alternate on the 2004 Olympic Team who has 114 caps but did not play in a match in 2004, was also named to the roster.  Fair is currently playing in France with Olympique Lyon.

The U.S. roster features three players that started matches on the back line at the 2004 Olympics in Kate Markgraf (who will be playing in her sixth Algarve Cup), Heather Mitts and Cat Reddick, who scored at last year’s Algarve Cup in a 3-1 loss to Sweden, one of just two losses during the entire year.
The roster also reunites 2004 Olympians Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly with forward Kelly Wilson, who together formed the devastating three-woman front line that led the USA to the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship, combining for 19 goals over six games as the young U.S. team won the first-ever world title for youth women.  Wilson won the Silver Boot as the second leading scorer in the tournament and the Bronze Ball as the third Most Outstanding Player.  Tarpley and O’Reilly etched their places in U.S. Olympic history by scoring in the Olympic final and semifinal, respectively, to help the Americans to the gold.

Veteran midfielders include Shannon Boxx, who has scored 12 goals in her first 41 games for the USA, Angela Hucles, who scored three of her five career goals at the Algarve Cup last year and Aly Wagner, who is also currently playing her club soccer with Lyon.

U.S. U-21 national team standouts named to the roster are midfielder Lori Chalupny, who was a member of the USA’s Olympic Residency Camp last year, defenders Lindsey Huie and Jill Oakes and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.  Chalupny has four caps for the USA, scoring her first career full international goal against Mexico last May.  Huie has started in the last two U-21 Nordic Cup tournaments for the USA.  Oakes, who was a starting central defender for the 2002 U-19 world champions, and scored a brilliant goal in the semifinal victory over Germany, also was a starter for the 2004 Nordic Cup champs.

Barnhart, the starting ‘keeper for the 2004 U-21 Nordic Cup champs, amazingly earned her first career cap as a forward during the 2005 “Fan Celebration Tour” when the USA ran out of field player substitutes in the second half of an Oct. 16 match against Mexico in Kansas City.  The U.S. then suffered an injury and the 5-foot-10 Barnhart played the last four minutes and stoppage time in the 1-0 victory, but has never played in goal for the senior national team.  Hope Solo completes the U.S. goalkeeping corps for the Algarve Cup. The 5-foot-9 Solo has 12 caps for the USA and was the alternate goalkeeper on the 2004 Olympic Team.  She is currently playing in France with Lyon as well, after playing last year in the Swedish First Division.  Also named to the roster is forward Christie Welsh.  Welsh is also playing with Lyon and last week scored in a big 3-0 victory over Juvisy, the club of French superstar Marinette Pichon, who will face the USA in the opening match of the 2005 Algarve Cup.  Welsh has 13 goals in her 23 caps for the USA.

The two youngest players on the roster are a pair of 18-year-olds in defender Stephanie Lopez and forward Amy Rodriguez, both of whom were starters on the U.S. team that took third place at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand last November. 

Rodriguez had two goals and two assists in that tournament while Lopez played every minute of all six games at left back.  The call-up is another step on a remarkable ascension for Rodriguez, a high school senior. In the middle of 2004, she was a key player on the USA’s U-17 National Team pool before earning a spot on the U.S. U-19 team in Thailand without every playing an international match at that level.  She scored in her first game at the world championship, shined in a U.S. U-21 training camp earlier this month and earned her first call-up to the senior team. 

U.S. WNT Roster - 2005 Algarve Cup
Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart, Hope Solo (2); DEFENDERS (7): Lorrie Fair (5), Lindsey Huie, Stephanie Lopez, Kate Markgraf (6), Heather Mitts (2), Jill Oakes, Cat Reddick (5); MIDFIELDERS (6): Shannon Boxx (2), Lori Chalupny (3), Angela Hucles (3), Kristine Lilly (8), Lindsay Tarpley (3), Aly Wagner (4); FORWARDS (5): Heather O’Reilly (3), Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach (2), Christie Welsh (3), Kelly Wilson (2).

Number of Algarve Cups attended in parenthesis.

Team Staff:
Interim Head Coach: Greg Ryan (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
GK Coach: Bill Irwin (Portland, Ore.)
General Manager: Nils Krumins (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Doctor: Dr. Becky Spaulding (High Point, N.C.)
Medical Trainer: Julie O’Connell (Chicago, Ill.)
Medical Trainer: Gigi Garcia (Miami, Fla.)
Medical Trainer: Juliet Barnes (Chicago, Ill.) 
Massage Therapist: Scott Street (Atlanta, Ga.)
Equipment Coordinator: Thomas Staevski (Encino, Calif.)
Team Security: Mark Pharris (Atlanta, Ga.)
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz (Hermosa Beach, Calif.)

12th Annual Algarve Cup
Algarve, Portugal
Group A
Norway, China PR, Sweden & Germany
Group B
USA, Denmark, Finland & France
Group C
England, N. Ireland, Portugal & Mexico

March 9, 2005
Group A
Norway v China PR  1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Sweden v Germany  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group B
Denmark v Finland  1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
France v USA   4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group C
England v Northern Ireland 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Portugal v Mexico  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 11, 2005
Group A
China PR v Sweden  1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Germany v Norway  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group B
USA v Finland   1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Denmark v France  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group C
England v Portugal  1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Mexico v Northern Ireland 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 13, 2005
Group A
China PR v Germany  1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Sweden v Norway  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group B
USA v Denmark   1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Finland v France  4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET
Group C
England v Mexico   1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET
Northern Ireland v Portugal 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET

March 15, 2005
Match for place 11th and 12th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 9th and 10th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 7th and 8th 10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Match for place 5th and 6th 3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Match for place 3rd and 4th 3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET
Championship   6 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET


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