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U.S. WNT Arrives in Portugal as Wednesday's Algarve Cup Opener vs. China Approaches


Friday, March 2, 2007
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from The Algarve, Portugal


ALGARVE CUP TIME: The U.S. Women’s National Team touched down in Portugal on March 1 in advance of the annual Algarve Cup as preparations for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup kick into high gear. The team landed in Lisbon and boarded a bus for the three-hour drive south to the Algarve region, a popular vacation destination for northern Europeans looking to flee the winter cold for sun and beaches. The USA had a very light training in the afternoon of March 1 with most of the players still woozy from the overnight flight from Newark, N.J., where the team met following their domestic flights. The March 2 morning training was a bit more intense with some 11 v. 11 and a bunch of shooting, with the afternoon session also featuring some full-field scrimmaging and finishing. Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page at ussoccer.com for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal.

SIX DAYS TO CHINA: The U.S. team will train for six days before the first match against China on March 7 in Silves, Portugal, with the first two of those days having double sessions. Six of the teams in Groups A and B at the Algarve Cup will be participating in the Women’s World Cup in China this fall and these matches could be a final chance for the top teams to test themselves against each other before Women’s World Cup play begins on Sept. 10. This will be the 14th Algarve Cup and the 12th in which the USA has played, winning four times, finishing second three times and coming home third, fourth, fifth and sixth one time each. The USA’s sixth place finish came in 2001 when then head coach April Heinrichs brought a very young squad to Portugal during the first pre-season of the WUSA.

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP TUNE-UP: This tournament will mark the third time the USA has played in the Algarve Cup in advance of a Women’s World Cup, and the results of this competition have certainly not been an indicator of success in the World Cup. In 1995, the USA finished fourth at the Algarve Cup and third in the Women’s World Cup. Sweden won the Algarve Cup, but was knocked out of the Women’s World Cup, in their own country, in the quarterfinals as Norway went on to take the crown. Norway finished third in the Algarve Cup in 1995. In 1999, the USA finished second at the Algarve Cup, losing to China, but went on to defeat China in the Women’s World Cup Final. In 2003, the USA won the Algarve Cup, defeating China, but then lost to eventual Champions Germany in the semifinal of the Women’s World Cup. The Germans did not participate in the Algarve Cup that year.

TEAMS GET EXTRA REST DAY AT ’07 ALGARVE CUP: The Algarve Cup is a grueling tournament that features four world-class games, usually in seven days, but in this year’s competition the teams will get an extra rest day between Matchdays 2 and 3. The USA plays Finland on March 9 and then has two days of rest before finishing group play against Sweden on March 12. The USA had played Denmark three years in a row in this tournament from 2004-2006, but will not face the Danes in group play this year. Still, the USA will kick off the tournament against the same team they began against last year – China – as the tournament opens for the U.S. in Silves on March 7. Eleven matches from the Algarve Cup will be broadcast across Europe on Eurosport, including the third-place and championship matches. The USA will be playing one televised game in group play, that against Sweden on March 12 from Vila Real de San Antonio, a town right on the border of Portugal and Spain. In Group B, the USA will be facing two teams ranked in the world’s top-10, taking on China (9th) and Sweden (4th), as well as Finland (16th). The U.S., as usual, is the first team (aside from host Portugal) of the 12 participating in the tournament to arrive in the Algarve.

U.S. GAMES ON MATCHTRACKER: U.S. fans can follow all the U.S. games live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The 12-team Algarve Cup will feature four match days – March 7, 9, 12 and 14 – with six matches each day. Group A features Germany, Norway, France and Denmark. Host Portugal, Iceland, Ireland and Italy - the latter three in their third Algarve Cups - make up Group C. All the group games will be played over seven different venues spread out over the Algarve region. After expanding from eight to 12 teams six years ago, the format is as follows. The teams in Group A and B will compete for the title as the group winners will play in the championship game. 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 while the second place team in Group C will play the other fourth place finisher. The third and last place finishers from Group C play again for 11th place.

14th Annual Algarve Cup
Algarve, Portugal
Group A
Germany, Norway, France, Denmark
Group B
USA, China, Finland, Sweden
Group C
Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Iceland

USA’s 2007 Algarve Cup Schedule – Complete Schedule

Date

Match-up

Venue

Kickoff (Local/ET)

March 7  

USA vs. China

Estadio Municipal - Silves 

4:15 p.m. / 11:15 a.m.

March 9

Finland vs. USA

Estadio da Nora - Ferreiras

4:15 p.m. / 11:15 a.m.

March 12

USA vs. Sweden

Estadio Municipal - VRS Antonio

8 p.m. / 4 p.m.

March 14

Placement Match 

TBD 

TBD 

       

REWIND TO ’06: Last year was a good one for the U.S. Women’s National Team as head coach Greg Ryan put the team through some important work to prepare for this year’s Women’s World Cup run. Here is a look back at some notable statistics from 2006: 

• The team stretched its unbeaten run in regulation play to 32 matches, a team record. It now stands at 35 games.
• Kristine Lilly’s total of 13 goals was her second best-ever in a calendar year (She scored 20 in 1999).
• Abby Wambach’s 17 goals marked her second-best year and tied for eighth-best in the history of the WNT program.
• Wambach led the team in assists with eight, but Lilly had seven. Aly Wagner had six.
• In 2006 alone, goalkeeper Hope Solo doubled her career caps, starts and shutouts.
• Ryan gave caps to 29 players in 2006, five of them first caps: Danesha Adams, Natasha Kai, Megan Rapinoe, India Trotter and Kacey White.
• 16 players got at least one point and 11 different players scored a goal.
• Of the 57 goals in 2006, 46 came from forwards, six from midfielders (one for Shannon Boxx, one for Carli Lloyd, two for Leslie Osborne, two for Aly Wagner) and five from defenders (all Cat Whitehill).
• Wambach led the team in minutes with 1851 out of a possible 2040. Lilly was next with 1727 and the next field players were Christe Rampone (1532) and Wagner (1522). Solo played 1680 minutes.
• Solo played 18 out of the 22 matches.
• The team allowed just 10 goals in 22 matches, an average of 0.44 goals a game. Of those 10 goals, five came from the run of play and five from set plays (two off penalty kicks, one off a corner kick and two off free kicks).

ALGARVE QUICK HITS:

• This is the 14th annual Algarve Cup, which has become the most competitive yearly women’s international competition in the world.
• This is the USA’s 12th time participating in the Algarve cup. The USA competed in the inaugural tournament in 1994, played in 1995, but skipped 1996 (an Olympic year on U.S. soil) and 1997. The USA has competed in the tournament every year since.
• The USA won the Algarve Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The only other team to have won three in a row is Norway, who did it in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The USA did not participate in the 1996 and 1997 tournaments.
• Fives teams have played in all 13 Algarve Cups so far: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal. The Nordic countries are the co-organizers of the tournament.
• Of the USA opponents, China has played in the last 11 tournaments, winning it in 1999 and 2002. Finland has played in every tournament, but has never finished higher than fifth, (in 1995). Sweden has played in every tournament, winning twice, but hasn’t taken top honors since 2001. Sweden finished third last year.
• The 24 matches of this year’s Algarve Cup will be played in nine different venues ranging from tiny stadiums that seat several thousand to the state-of-the art 30,000-seat Stadium Algarve, which will not host a U.S. game this year.

EXPERIENCE IN THE ALGARVE: Ryan has brought an experienced team to Portugal this year as only four of the 20 players on the roster have 20 or less caps. In fact, the U.S. roster averages 71 caps per person (although that might be a bit skewed by Kristine Lilly’s world-record 319 caps) and 26 years old, a seemingly perfect blend of youth and experience. The Algarve Cup has been a breakout tournament for several players, most recently Lori Chalupny and Solo in 2005 and Kai in 2006. Kai earned her first-ever caps at the Algarve Cup last year and scored in her first two career games, against Denmark and France.

RAMPONE’S ROCKY ROAD TO ALGARVE: It has not been easy for U.S. defender Christie Rampone to get to the Algarve Cup the past two years. Last year, she joined the U.S. squad at the airport in Newark, N.J., just in time to make the flight to Portugal after being medically cleared that morning from a head injury suffered earlier in the year. This year, passport issues caused a delay in her trip and she couldn’t take the team flight on February 28. She, and her baby Rylie, left on March 1 and arrived safely on the morning of March 2 to round out the 20-player U.S. squad.

INDIA IN: The USA’s least-capped player is 22-year-old defender India Trotter, who finished her eligibility at Florida State last fall. Trotter made the Algarve Cup roster last year, but when Christie Rampone was cleared to play right before the team traveled to Europe, she didn’t make the roster for the matches. This year, fresh off her first significant minutes for the national team at the Four Nations Tournament in China last January, Trotter should get the chance to show her abilities and add to her two career caps.

GOALS, GOALS, GOALS, FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE: The USA has averaged 8.1 goals per tournament over its 11 trips to the Algarve Cup, a pretty impressive statistic considering the level of competition. The most goals ever scored by the USA during the Algarve Cup has been 11, achieved in 2000 and 2004 (the U.S. won both tournaments). The least goals (five) came in 2001 and 2003, but the Americans still came out as tournament champions in 2003, getting two 1-1 draws and a 1-0 win in group play before defeating China in the title game, 2-0.

Stat of Note
Lilly and the retired Shannon MacMillan are the all-time leading scorers for the USA at the Algarve Cup with 11 goals a piece. MacMillan scored seven of her 11 goals at the 2002 Algarve Cup, accounting for all but one of the USA’s scores in that tournament.

Quote of the Week:
U.S. defender/midfielder Lori Chalupny, who scored a world-class goal from distance against China during the USA’s triumphant run to the Four Nations Tournament title in January, after signing a poster-sized photo of herself sent by a fan.

“I guess this is what happens when you score goals.”

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