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USA Faces Denmark in Wednesday's Algarve Cup Final


Monday, March 13, 2007
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from The Algarve, Portugal


U.S. TEAM SET FOR ALGARVE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST DENMARK: Coming off an electric 3-2 win over Sweden in its final group match, the U.S. Women’s National Team is focused for its fifth consecutive Algarve Cup championship game and will face Denmark on Wednesday, March 14 at Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de San Antionio. The match kicks off at 4:30 p.m. local time / 12:30 p.m. ET and fans can follow all the action live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Fans in Europe can watch the match live on Eurosport. This is the 14th Algarve Cup and the first time a team has reached five consecutive finals. The most consecutive finals any team beside the United States has reached is three, accomplished by Norway from 1996 to 1998 when they won three straight titles. The USA, which won the Algarve Cup for the first time in 2000, won three straight from 2003-2005 before falling in penalty kicks to Germany last year. The Americans will be looking to recapture the title against a Danish team ranked eighth in the world. In the USA’s Algarve Cup title game victories in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005, the U.S. has scored one, two, four and one goal, respectively. Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal. 

2007 Algarve Cup Placement Matches  

Match-up

Placement Match

Venue

Kickoff (Local/ET)

Portugal vs. Ireland

11th Place

Estadio da Nora - Ferreiras  

10 a.m. / 6 a.m. 

Iceland vs. China

9th Place

Complexo Desp. Montechoro 

10 a.m. / 6 a.m.

Italy vs. Norway

7th Place

Estadio Jose Arcanjo - Olhao 

10:30 a.m. / 6:30 a.m.

Finland vs. Germany

5th Place

Estadio do Portimonense 

10:30 a.m. / 6:30 a.m.

Sweden vs. France

3rd Place

Estadio Municipal - VRS Antonio  

1 p.m. / 9 a.m.

USA vs. Denmark

Championship

Estadio Municipal - VRS Antonio  

4:30 p.m. / 12:30 p.m.

       

USA vs. DENMARK HISTORY: The USA has certainly had success against Demark at the Algarve Cup, running up a 5-1-0 record against them at this tournament, the lone loss coming in 1995 at the USA’s second Algarve Cup appearance. The two teams’ most recent meeting came at last year’s Algarve Cup, a somewhat surprising 5-0 victory for the USA. The teams also met at the 2005 Algarve Cup, a 4-0 win for the USA that eventually led to the resignation of the Danish coach shortly before the 2005 European Women’s Championships. While the USA’s all-time record against the Danes is 12-4-2, Denmark has also had some good results against the American women. Denmark came to the USA and earned a draw (1-1) and a victory (3-1) during two matches of the 2004 Fan Celebration Tour. That loss on Nov. 4, 2004, was the last suffered by the Americans, who have gone unbeaten in regulation time over the next 38 matches to date, 37 of those under Greg Ryan. The loss to Denmark at the end of 2004 is just one of two setbacks that the U.S. women have suffered in the last 73 matches the team has played since the end of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The other came against Sweden, the USA’s vanquished opponent in the final Group B match. The USA and Denmark have met in some important matches, including the 1995 Women’s World Cup (a 2-0 U.S. win), the 1996 Olympics (a 3-0 U.S. win) and the 1999 Women’s World Cup (the famous 3-0 win to open the tournament in front of a sold-out crowd at Giants Stadium).

DANES QUALIFY FOR CHINA ON LAST MATCHDAY: Denmark won Group 3 in European Qualifying to earn its berth to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but they didn’t do it without drama. Having lost, 2-1, in Finland, Denmark needed a victory at home against the Fins last Sept. 27, and got it by a 1-0 score in front of almost 10,000 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a women’s soccer match in Denmark. Maiken Pape got the historic goal in the 55th minute to send Denmark to China. Denmark went 6-1-1 in qualifying with the only draw a 2-2 tie with Spain.

USA vs. DENMARK PREVIEW: “Denmark!” would likely not have been the answer in a pre-tournament poll asking women’s soccer pundits to pick which team from Group A would make the 2007 Algarve Cup Final. With the world’s top-ranked Germans, the powerful Norwegians and two-time Algarve Cup winners China in the group, many would have picked the Danes to finish last, especially considering Denmark’s ninth place finish at this tournament last year. The Danes, however, have always featured numerous attacking personalities and a dominating 4-0 win over France was followed by an improbably 1-0 win over Norway in the second match. The Danes defended for most of the first half before turning up the heat and getting a last minute free-kick goal from Ditte Larsen to topple the Norges. Germany’s two losses, and Denmark’s victories over France and Norway, meant the Danes were all but assured of a spot in the final when their last group match against Germany kicked off. Denmark head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller rested a handful of his top players and the Danes fell to Germany, 3-0. It is not unprecedented for a team to make the championship game after losing its final group match. The USA did just that in 2004, falling, 3-1, to Sweden, but advancing to the championship on goal difference and defeating Norway, 4-1, for the title. While the Danes did get to rest players against Germany, Ryan has also been spreading around the minutes a bit and both teams should be as fresh as possible for their fourth game in eight days.

Both USA and Denmark Feature Attacking Personalities
The 2007 Algarve Cup Final should be a wide open affair as both teams like to commit numbers to the attack. The USA has always matched up well against Denmark, with the Americans seemingly having an advantage in speed and quickness. Due to the overabundance of quality attacking players in this match, the defenses may well be the key…who can stop who? The USA is in good shape in that department as Cat Whitehill and Christie Rampone have been at the center of a U.S. backline which has looked extremely tight this tournament. All three U.S. goals allowed have been on set plays.

Rassmussen, Pedersen and Pape
Denmark, however, does have some extremely talented attackers in the speedy Johanna Rasmussen and especially Merete Pederson, a lethal finisher who scored three goals in two games against the USA at the end of 2004. Denmark’s most dangerous dribbler is probably Rasmussen, who loves to pound the flanks and take players on. Maiken Pape, who scored the goal that sent Denmark to the Women’s World Cup, is more of a strong target player, complimenting Pederson’s slashing tendencies. The Danes midfield presence is Anne Dot Eggers Nielsen, who can tackle and create. Denmark’s talented goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist struggled against the Germans, looking lost as she let in two looping headers from Anja Mittag, and she will have to be on her game against a U.S. team that sent a constant stream of balls into Sweden’s penalty box in the last match. Denmark’s leader in the back is captain Katrine Pedersen. The 29-year-old has played more than 100 times for her country and is the emotional leader for her team. Denmark’s five goals in the tournament have come from five different players, one each for Cathrine Sorensen, Pape, Rasmussen, Pedersen and Ditte Larsen.

Wambach, Lilly and Lloyd
After scoring three goals in its first two games, the USA got three against Sweden as Wambach got off the schnide, scoring her first two goals of the year. Carli Lloyd continues to impress in what has been a breakout tournament for the attacking midfielder. She has scored a goal in every game, all three coming on great finishes, from 25 yards against China, from 13 yards against Finland and from eight yards out against Sweden. Lilly’s lone goal in the tournament has come from the penalty spot, but the U.S. captain has been terrorizing opponents down the flanks, no doubt leading the competition in “corner kicks forced.” Lori Chalupny, who played in the back for the USA for most of last year, has moved into the midfield and is also striking on goal. With the return of Shannon Boxx from injury, the offensive impact of the USA’s defensive midfielders has increased even more, as evidenced by Boxx’s assist on Wambach’s second goal against Sweden. The USA’s three young forwards – Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O’Reilly and Natasha Kai – have all gotten significant minutes and all compliment Wambach and Lilly with their unique qualities as strikers.

Road to the Algarve Cup Final – Full Schedule / Results
Result                         U.S. Goal Scorers
USA 2, China 1         Kristine Lilly, Carli Lloyd
USA 1, Finland 0      Carli Lloyd
USA 3, Sweden 2     Abby Wambach (2), Carli Lloyd

Result                                  Denmark Goal Scorers
Denmark 4, France 0        Cathrine Sorensen, Maiken Pape, Johanna Rasmussen, Merete Pedersen
Denmark 1, Norway 0       Ditte Larsen
Denmark 0, Germany 3    --

U.S. HEAD COACH GREG RYAN
On Denmark:
“They are a very attack-oriented team. They send five players on your restraining line so it’s going to be a game of attacking. We’re not going sit back and defend them all day. We’re going to get numbers forward and go after them. It could be a very wide open game.”

U.S. DEFENDER STEPHANIE LOPEZ
On the Championship Game against Denmark:
“I got my first cap against Denmark, but when I went into the game, we were in control, so I know this will be a bit more intense. I know they have been playing well at this tournament, and they have some really good one-v-one players and some good finishers. As a defense, we’re going to have to be very focused, but I feel like the chemistry between the backs has been great this tournament, so we’ll be ready.”

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry, 18-Hope Solo;
DEFENDERS (7): 17-Lori Chalupny, 8-Tina Ellertson, 14-Stephanie Lopez, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone, 22-India Trotter, 4-Cat Whitehill;
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 19-Marci Jobson, 12-Leslie Osborne, 10-Aly Wagner;
FORWARDS (5): 6-Natasha Kai, 13-Kristine Lilly, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 20-Abby Wambach.

Denmark Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Heidi Johansen, 16-Tine Cederkvist;
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Mia Olsen, 3-Katrine Pedersen, 4-Gitte Andersen, 5-Mette Jensen, 6-Bettina Hansen, 12-Christina Orntoft, 14-Dorte Jensen, 20-Line Hansen;
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Cathrine Sørensen, 10-Anne Dot Eggers Nielsen, 15-Ditte Larsen, 17-Nanna Johansen, 18-Janne Madsen;
FORWARDS (5): 8-Julie Bukh, 9-Maiken Pape, 11-Merete Pedersen, 13-Johanna Rasmussen, 19-Stine Dimun.

AWARDS TO BE HANDED OUT: The Algarve Cup will hand out four awards following the completion of the tournament – Best Scorer, Best Goalkeeper, Best Player and the Fair Play Award. U.S. players are in the running for all the awards. Lloyd is tied for the tournament lead with three goals, but every team has one more match to play.

GROUP A RECAP: Germany righted the ship with a 3-0 win over Denmark, breaking a five-game winless streak, Germany’s longest in 22 years. Young forward Anja Mittag scored on two first-half headers and Melanie Behringer added a third goal with a strike just after halftime. Norway lost, 1-0, to France on a goal from Camille Abily as the Scandinavians continued their slide after a well-deserved 2-1 win over Germany in its first match of the tournament. With the win, the French advanced to the Third-Place match for the third year in a row.

GROUP B RECAP: While the USA and Sweden were playing for first place in the group, Finland and China were battling it out for third. That honor went to Finland, which defeated China, 2-0, on goals from Anna-Kaisa Rantanen and Sanna Talonen. The loss left China winless in the tournament so far and no doubt further stoked the angst of the Chinese Federation and fans in advance of hosting the Women’s World Cup.

GROUP C RECAP: Not surprisingly, Italy and Iceland showed as the class of the group on the final matchday, defeating Ireland and Portugal by 4-1 and 5-1 scores, respectively. Italy already had the group won before the game started, but took full points and as a reward, will get to play the powerful Germans for seventh place.

2007 ALGARVE CUP SCORERS: After 18 goals were scored on the first matchday of the Algarve Cup, just seven shots found the net on the second matchday. The tournament rebounded for 22 goals on the final day of group play, boosted by 11 in Group C alone. The 57 goals have been scored by 36 different players, but just nine players have two or more goals and just two players have tallied three times to lead the tournament. Iceland’s Holmfridur Magnusdottir got all three of hers in a 5-1 dismantling of Portugal while the USA’s Carli Lloyd has scored one in all three games.

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