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U.S. WNT Algarve Cup Notes - March 17, 2004


U.S. WOMEN NEED WIN OR TIE vs. SWEDEN TO MAKE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The U.S. Women's National Team will face Sweden in its final Group A match at the 2004 Algarve Cup tomorrow (Thursday, March 18) needing a win or a tie to guarantee a spot in its fifth Algarve Cup championship game.  The USA has won two of those five matches, taking the title in 2000 and 2003.  In a slight clarification from yesterday's match report, the USA can clinch a spot in the final even with a loss to Sweden, but ONLY if France defeats Denmark, which would give three teams six points each and eliminate the first tie-breaker, which unlike years past in the Algarve Cup, is head-to-head play.  The next tiebreaker would then be goal difference, and the USA goes into the final match day with a plus-five margin while France is minus-1 and Sweden is minus-2.  If France ties or loses to Denmark, a Sweden victory over the USA would leapfrog them into the championship game as both teams would have six points, but Sweden would have the edge in the head-to-head result.  The USA and Sweden kick off in Lagos, Portugal, at 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET at the same time Denmark and France kick off in Silves.  Fans can follow the USA-Sweden match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

USA vs. SWEDEN PREVIEW

The USA and Sweden meet for the second time in 2004 after having also played in the USA's first match of the year, a 3-0 victory in Shenzhen, China at the Four Nations that saw 20-year-old Lindsay Tarpley score her first two international goals.  This match will mark the eighth meeting with Sweden at the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have participated in nine Algarve Cups.  (The USA has faced only Norway as many times as this tournament).  In fact, the USA has NOT faced Sweden at the Algarve Cup just once, that in 1995, but since has played them in six consecutive tournaments.  The USA is 3-1-3 against Sweden all-time at the Algarve Cup and 12-2-5 overall in the history between the two teams.  Sweden is coming off perhaps its best year ever, advancing to the 2003 Women's World Cup Final where they fell to Germany in sudden death overtime in one of the best women's international matches ever played.  Sweden comes into this match smarting after a 3-0 loss to an inspired France team in its second Group A match, perhaps finding how tough life is at the top of the European ladder with all the teams gunning for them.   Sweden does however hold a comfortable lead in Group 1 of qualifying for the 2005 European Women's Championships having taken full points from all four of its games and leads Italy, which has also played four matches, by five points. Sweden actually played a closer match with Finland (2-1) than with Italy (5-0) so far.

MOSTROM LEADS WAY FOR SWEDEN
Sweden has several of the world's top players, including goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson, midfielder Malin Mostrom, who was Sweden's captain at the 2003 WWC and forward Victoria Svensson, who has gained some "Hamm-like" notoriety in Sweden after a tremendous Women's World Cup performance in which she won the Silver Ball as the second best player.  Sweden is without its top striker, Hanna Ljungberg, who tore her ACL in January, but the USA is also without one of its top attackers in Kristine Lilly, who did not travel to Portugal for this tournament.  Like the USA, Sweden has a growing contingent of talented young players led by 20-year-old forward Josefine Oqvist, who scored the winning goal against Canada in the Women's World Cup semifinals.  Sweden also has a core of 20-somethings just coming into their own on the national team, including hard-nosed forward Salina Olsson, the Mack Truck-framed Frida Ostberg, and flank midfielder Therese Sjogran.  Sweden has an experienced back line that has played together for several years featuring veterans Jane Torqvist, Karolina Westberg and Hanna Marklund, all seasoned by many battles with the USA.  Ostberg received a red card for a nasty challenge on a French player at the end of Sweden's last match and will not be eligible to play against the USA.  While the USA did score three goals on Sweden in the opening match of the 2003 Women's World Cup, and in January in China, and France did pierce them for three more, Sweden has always proven a tough team to score on.  Prior to the Women's World Cup match, the USA had not scored more than one goal on Sweden going back six matches to 1999.  Since 1999, the USA is 3-1-4 against Sweden.

ROSTERS:
USA
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry, 18-Siri Mullinix; DEFENDERS (7): 2-Kylie Bivens, 6-Brandi Chastain, 15-Kate Markgraf, 17-Heather Mitts, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 13-Lori Chalupny, 11-Julie Foudy, 19-Angela Hucles, 5-Leslie Osborne, 16-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (4): 9-Mia Hamm, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 12-Cindy Parlow, 20-Abby Wambach.

SWEDEN:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Caroline Jonsson (Malmo FF), 12-Sofia Lundgren (Umea IK);
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Karolina Westberg (Malmo FF), 3-Jane Tornqvist (Djurgarden/Alvsjo), 4-Hanna Marklund (Umea IK), 5-Kristine Bengtsson (Djurgarden/Alvsjo), 10-Sofia Eriksson (Umea IK), 12-Anna Eriksson (Kolbotn IL-NOR), 19-Sara Thunegro (Djurgarden/Alvsjo); MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Malin Mostrom (Umea IK), 8-Frida Nordin (Malmo FF), 14-Linda Fagerstrom (Djurgarden/Alvsjo), 15-Therese Sjogran (Malmo FF), 17-Anna Sjostrom (Umea IK), 9-Malin Andersson (Malmo FF), 18-Frida Ostberg (Umea IK). FORWARDS (4): 7-Lotta Schelin (Goteborg), 11-Victoria Svensson (Djurgarden/Alvsjo), 16-Salina Olsson (Hammarby IF), 20-Josefine Oqvist (Balinge IF).

ALGARVE CUP TOP SCORERS
U.S. midfielder Angela Hucles goes into the second-to-last match day of the 2004 Algarve Cup tied as the tournament's leading scorer with two other players, China's Han Duan, who scored all three of her goals in China's 4-0 win over Finland and Portugal's Carla Couto, who tallied twice in a 3-2 loss to Wales.  Northern Ireland and Denmark have yet to score in the tournament.  Norway has scored the most goals with seven, followed by the USA with six.

Player (Country) Goals
Angela Hucles (USA) 3
Han Duan (CHN) 3
Carla Couto (POR) 3
Sonia Bompastor (FRA) 2
Hege Risse (NOR) 2
Cheryl Foster (WAL) 2
Zhang Ouying (CHN) 1
Abby Wambach (USA) 1
Mia Hamm (USA) 1
Lindsay Tarpley (USA) 1
Salina Olsson (SWE) 1
Hoda Lattaf (FRA) 1
Marinette Pichon 1
Unni Lehn (NOR) 1
Heidi Pedersen (NOR) 1
Solveig Gulbrandsen (NOR) 1
Anne Tonnessen (NOR) 1
Jessica Julin (FIN) 1
Ilaria Pasqui (ITA) 1
Anastasia Papadopoulou (GRE) 1
Regina Agapitou (GRE) 1
Angeliki Tefani (GRE) 1
Monica (POR) 1
Katie Daley (WAL) 1
Own Goal        1
     
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIA!
The U.S. team celebrated Mia Hamm's thirty-….um, thirty-something birthday today with a morning serenade of the birthday song, as well as cards, hugs, and the rumor of crepes and ice cream this evening, but as the USA did not train today, she may have escaped the traditional "butts up" ritual always given to birthday celebrators at practice, whereby the teammates get a chance to peg her on the behind with the soccer ball.  Hamm sported a special green St. Patrick's Day Boston Red Sox cap on her special day, which included (as if she would get at least her birthday off?) a TV interview with the European sports show TransWorld Sport.

USA RESTS AND REGENERATES ON OFF DAY

The USA players got a welcomed day off today after playing two tough games in three days, and most players took full advantage, sleeping in and resting their tired bodies and legs.  Several players did hit the weight room for a quick workout, and most of the team had lunch out at one of the countless sidewalk cafes on another beautiful day in the Algarve.  Several afternoon excursions bore a remarkable resemblance to road trips in the USA as the players hit the mall for a little shopping and a movie, while others went shopping for the famous pottery prevalent in the Algarve Region.  A few others hit the beach, just a short walk from the team hotel, while others did some gift shopping for the excellent European wines that are plentiful in Portugal.

She Said It:
"It's been six months since I last played in a national team game.  I could feel the adrenaline pumping.  I almost hyperventilated.  But after I touched the ball for the first time, all the nerves went away."

          -- U.S. defender Brandi Chastain showing that despite playing 178 games for the national team, professionals still get nervous before going into games, as she did for the first time since the Women's World Cup last Tuesday vs. Denmark.


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