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U.S. WNT Set to Open 2011 Algarve Cup Against Japan

U.S. Women’s National Team
2011 Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
March 1, 2011

U.S. WOMEN OPEN ALGARVE CUP AGAINST JAPAN: The U.S. Women’s National Team will open the 2011 Algarve Cup against Japan on March 2 at Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de San Antonio in what will be the first meeting between the teams since the semifinal of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. It will also be a clash of two of the top teams in the world with the USA currently ranked first and Japan fifth. All of the USA’s Group A games will kick off at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) and fans can follow the action as it happens on’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt. The Algarve Cup is a key component for U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup preparation as this will be the final tournament for the USA before it heads to Germany in mid-June. By the time the match against Japan kicks off, the USA will have trained in Portugal for 10 days, with one day off, as Sundhage continues to formulate her roster, lineup and tactics for the sixth FIFA Women’s World Cup.


  • U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage brought 24 players to the Algarve Cup, but will name 20 to a tournament roster for the matches. 
  • Each team is allowed six substitutions per game, which is the FIFA maximum for an international friendly. 
  • In the event that teams are tied at the end of group play, the first tiebreaker is the result of the matches between two teams (head-to-head), the second is goal differential and the third is goals scored. 
  • The 24 matches of this year’s Algarve Cup will be played in 10 different venues ranging from tiny stadiums that seat several thousand to the state-of-the art 30,000-seat Estádio Algarve, which will host the championship game, as well as the Group C match between Chile and Wales. 
  • Of the three U.S. first-round opponents, Japan is playing in its first Algarve Cup, while Norway and Finland have played in all previous 18 tournaments. 
  • The USA’s Algarve Cup rookies are Kelley O’Hara, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Whitney Engen and Becky Sauerbrunn. 
  • Thirty-two different players have scored goals for the USA at the Algarve Cup. 
  • Eight players on the USA’s roster have scored at the Algarve Cup: Abby Wambach (15 goals), Carli Lloyd (6), Lindsay Tarpley (5), Lauren Cheney (4), Heather O’Reilly (4), Shannon Boxx (1), Tobin Heath (1) and Amy Rodriguez (1). 
  • Wambach’s 15 goals are the best at the Algarve Cup for a U.S. player and she is tied with Swedish legend Hanna Ljungberg and Portugal’s Carla Couto as the top scorer in the 18-year history of the tournament. 
  • The USA is currently on an Algarve record streak of 25 consecutive matches without a defeat (the USA has lost two penalty kick shootouts during that stretch). 
  • In fact, the USA is 0-3 in penalty shootouts in Algarve Cup history. 
  • The USA is 42-9-8 all-time in the Algarve Cup. The 42 wins are the most for a team in Algarve Cup history. 
  • The USA has scored 124 goals while allowing 48 at the Algarve Cup, which is also the best goal differential in tournament history. 
  • Five teams have played in all 18 Algarve Cups so far: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal. 
  • Twenty-six countries have participated in the Algarve Cup over the years. Chile and Japan will debut this year. 
  • There have been 19 hat tricks in the tournament’s history. Four have come from Americans: Wambach (who scored hers in the championship game in 2004), Cindy Parlow, Mia Hamm and Shannon MacMillan. 
  • U.S. assistant coach Hege Riise scored 12 goals in this tournament while playing for Norway. 
  • With 974 goals in the history of the tournament, the 1000th goal should come at some point during this Algarve Cup.

THE GAME IN SPAIN, ALMOST: At the Algarve Cup, the USA always sets up base camp pretty much in the center of the Algarve region, thus making its first match in Vila Real de San Antonio the most distant of the venues. It will take about an hour to get to VR de SA, which sits right on the Spanish border and so close to the ocean that a lighthouse is visible from the stadium. The drive has not seemed to negatively impact the U.S. team, which is 6-0-1 in VR de SA during its Algarve Cup history, including a 2-0 victory against Iceland in last year’s Algarve Cup opener played at the venue.

18th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal

Group A
USA, Japan, Norway, Finland
Group B
Sweden, China, Iceland, Denmark
Group C
Portugal, Chile, Wales, Romania

U.S. WNT 2011 Algarve Cup Schedule

Date Opponent Time (Local/ET) Venue
March 2 Japan 3 p.m. / 10 a.m. Estádio Municipal; VR de SA
March 4 Norway 3 p.m. / 10 a.m. Estádio Municipal; VR de SA
March 7 Finland 3 p.m. / 10 a.m. Estádio Municipal; Quarteira
March 9 Placement Match TBD TBD

The U.S. Women have gone 10-1-4 in openers of this annual tournament the past 15 times they have attended. The only opening game loss came in 2001 when the USA brought a very young team to the Algarve during WUSA pre-season camps. Last year, the USA won all four games of the tournament for only the fourth time in the 15 previous appearances. The USA won the tournament for the first time in 2000, and also won in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010. The USA has twice lost in penalty kicks in the championship game, in 2006 to Germany and in 2009 to Sweden. The USA has advanced to eight consecutive championship games.

LAST YEAR AT THE ALGARVE: The USA swept its group matches at the 2010 Algarve Cup, defeating Iceland 2-0, Norway 2-1, and Sweden 2-0. The U.S. then defeated Germany 3-2 in the championship game at Estádio Algarve on a wet, sloppy field as Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Lauren Cheney tallied goals. Cheney had a breakout tournament last year at the Algarve Cup, scoring in three of the four matches and four goals total, including the eventual winning goal against Germany in the championship game.

ALGARVE DEBUTS: The Algarve Cup has proven to be a fine starting point for a U.S. WNT career as several players debuted here in Portugal. In 2005, Stephanie Cox came off the bench against Denmark for her first cap in what was her only match of the year. She now has 66 caps. Amy Rodriguez made her WNT debut at the 2005 Algarve Cup, playing in two matches off the bench, which were her only two caps of the year. She now has 58 caps. In 2005, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart got her first cap in goal at the Algarve Cup. She famously earned her first cap as a field player in 2004 when she had to play forward after the U.S. ran out of subs during a Fan Celebration Tour match following the 2004 Olympics. Heather O’Reilly debuted at the Algarve Cup in 2002 against Sweden and is now appearing in her ninth tournament. There is just one uncapped field player on the roster this year in defender Whitney Engen, but goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher have yet to get a game as well.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 5
USA Overall Record vs. Japan: 19-0-3
Japan record vs. the USA at Algarve Cup: 0-0-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: Aug. 18, 2008, in Beijing, China (4-2 U.S. win in Olympic semifinal)
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki
All-Time Algarve Cup Results: 0-0-0
Key Players: D Yukari Kinga, M Homare Sawa, M Aya Miyama, F Eriko Arakawa, F Shinobu Ohno

USA vs. Japan Fast Facts: The USA faced Japan twice at the 2008 Olympics in China, first in group play (a 1-0 U.S. win on a goal from Carli Lloyd) and again the semifinal (a 4-2 U.S. win on two goals from Angela Hucles, one from Lori Chalupny and one from Heather O’Reilly), but the two countries have not met since … Japan qualified for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup by winning the third-place match at the 2010 Asian Women’s Cup 2-0 against China… Japan won its group that featured Korea DPR, Thailand and Myanmar, but then fell in the semifinal to eventual champion Australia, necessitating the victory in the consolation game to make it to Germany … The USA has nine players on the 2011 Algarve Cup roster who played against Japan in the 2008 Olympic semifinal while Japan has 11 players from that match, including both goal scorers Shinobu Ohno and Eriko Arakawa … Japan’s long-time captain and greatest player is Homare Sawa, who has played many years in the United States, for the Atlanta Beat in the WUSA and most recently with the Washington Freedom in WPS … Sawa has played 160 times and scored 75 goals for her country … Japan has two players featuring in the German Women’s Bundesliga in forwards Kozue Ando of FCR Duisburg and Yuki Nagasato of FFC Turbine Potsdam, the current league leaders … Japan has two other foreign-based players in Rumi Utsugi who plays for Montpeillier in France and Mami Yamaguchi, the 2007 Hermann Trophy winner from Florida State, who now plays for Hammarby in Sweden after a stint in the WPS last year with the Atlanta Beat … Midfielder Aya Miyama was a key part of the Los Angeles Sol team that advanced to the first WPS championship game in 2009 and played for the St. Louis Athletica in 2010 … Japan has several veteran defenders in Yukari King (55 caps), Kyoko Yano (65 caps) and Azusa Iwashimizu (67 caps).

2011 U.S. Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Philadelphia Independence), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Western New York Flash), 26-Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), 1-Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): 19-Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), 14-Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), 25-Whitney Engen (Western New York Flash), 11-Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), 6-Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), 3-Christie Rampone (Washington Freedom), 22-Becky Sauerbrunn (Washington Freedom)
MIDFIELDERS (9): 4-Yael Averbuch (Western New York Flash), 7-Shannon Boxx (Washington Freedom), 17-Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC), 16-Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), 10-Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), 21-Kelley O’Hara (Boston Breakers), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Washington Freedom)
FORWARDS (4): 12-Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), 13-Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), 20-Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

2011 Japan Algarve Cup Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nozomi Yamago (Urawa Reds Ladies), Miho Fukimoto (Okayama Yunago Belle), Ayumi Kaihori (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
DEFENDERS (7): Yukari Kinga (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kyoko Yano (Urawa Reds Ladies), Azusa Iwashimizu (NTV Beleza), Aya Sameshima (TEPCO Beleza), Yuki Sakai (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Saki Kumagai (Urawa Reds Ladies), Akana Saito (Tokiwagi Gakuen High School)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Homare Sawa (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Aya Miyama (Okayama Yunago Belle), Nahomi Kawasumi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Megumi Kamionobe (Albirex Niigata Ladies), Mizuho Sakaguchi (Albirex Niigata Ladies), Asuna Tanaka (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Rumi Utsugi (Montpeillier HSC)
FORWARDS (6): Eriko Arakawa (Urawa Reds Ladies), Kozue Ando (FCR Duisburg, Germany), Shinobu Ohno (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Mami Yamaguchi (Hammarby), Yuki Nagasato (FFC Turbine Potsdam), Megumi Takase (INAC Kobe Leonessa)

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams nine 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 Wednesday, March 9. 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 7-11 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A or B, the second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team from Groups A or B. The teams that finish third and four in Group C will play each other for 11th place.

FOUR MONTH COUNTDOWN: The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played from June 26-July 17 in nine cities across Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen. The 16 nations competing are: host Germany, Korea DPR, Japan and Australia from Asia and Sweden, Norway, France and England from Europe, New Zealand from Oceania, the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea from Africa and Brazil and Colombia from South America.

USA FACES BIG CHALLENGE IN GROUP PLAY: The U.S. has perhaps the most difficult group draw at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, facing No. 4 Sweden and No. 6 Korea DPR along with Colombia in Group C. The U.S. will open against Korea DPR on June 28 in Dresden at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadium on the third match day of the tournament, will face Colombia in Sinsheim on July 2 at the Rhein Neckar Arena and will finish group play against Sweden on July 6 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Stadium Wolfsburg.

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP TICKETS GOING FAST: The Organizing Committee for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup has sold 515,000 tickets for the 32 matches about four months before the tournament will begin on June 26. The opening match of the tournament between Canada and Germany is expected to sell out the 74,228-capacity Olympic Stadium in the capital city. "Once we sell between 630,000 to 650,000, then we will have reached the break-even point and we will achieve that. One should not always compare the tournament to the summer fairytale of 2006. There is a big difference between whether 15 or 32 teams come, but the World Cup will hold Germany in her spell for several weeks,” said German Football Federation president Theo Zwanziger.

MEGAN’S TIME: Megan Rapinoe used the Algarve Cup last year to mount a comeback into the U.S. National Team. Now she’s hoping the tournament will give her a push into a consistent starting spot and a place on the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team. Read about Megan’s evolution in this special feature for

KEL SAYS: Catch up with the USA’s young and talented flank midfielder Kelley O’Hara as she answers