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U.S. to Face Denmark with Spot in Algarve Title Game on the Line


Saturday, March 12, 2005
U.S. Women's National Team
Notes from The Algarve, Portugal

USA TO FACE DENMARK WITH SPOT IN ALGARVE CUP TITLE GAME AT STAKE:  After winning its first two matches of the Algarve Cup, both by shutout, the U.S. Women's National Team faces perhaps its toughest test of the tournament on Sunday, March 13, taking on Denmark at the Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de San Antonio, which sits right on the Portugal-Spain border.  Fans can follow this crucial match live online at 8:45 a.m. ET with ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.  The U.S. team will have to travel the furthest distance so far for this match, taking an hour bus ride from its base in Albufeira for the 1:45 p.m. local time kickoff.  A win or a tie will propel the USA into the championship match.  If the USA does make the final, it will be the sixth trip to the championship game of the Algarve Cup in 10 appearances, with the Americans having won three titles.  The Third Place and Championship matches are being played at the beautiful 30,000-seat Stadium Algarve. The venue opened in December of 2003 for the 2004 European Championships, and the match will be broadcast on EuroSport, the ESPN of Europe.

PHOTO GALLERIES FROM FIRST TWO ALGARVE GAMES NOW AVAILABLE: After taking the slow boat across the Atlantic, photos galleries from the first two matches at the Algarve have arrived at ussoccer.com. Check out photos of the opener vs. France, or the 3-0 victory over Finland on Friday.

USA vs. DENMARK PREVIEW: Denmark has quietly been one of the few somewhat successful teams against the USA since the first meeting between the teams way back in 1985, as the Americans have a 9-4-2 record against the Danes all-time.  It took the USA four matches to win against Denmark, but the USA then won nine of the next 10 games, including two at Women's World Cups (1995 and 1999) and one in the Olympics (1996), before Denmark broke the streak during the 2004 "Fan Celebration Tour" last fall.  Denmark tied the USA 1-1 on Nov. 3 in New Jersey, but only after a last gasp equalizer from Mia Hamm that turned out to be the 158th and final goal of her legendary career.  Denmark then took it to the USA, 3-1, in Philadelphia on Nov. 6, which Abby Wambach getting the lone U.S. score.  Those results, and Denmark's current top form heading into this summer's European Championships, means that the young U.S. team will be pressed to the maximum to earn the win or draw that will get them to the Algarve Cup Final.  A loss to Denmark would likely relegate the USA to third place in the group and to the match for fifth place depending on if, and by how many goals, France can beat Finland in the other Group B match.

U.S. captain Kristine Lilly on Denmark:
"The last two times we've played them we've tied and lost so we know it is going to be a tough game.  They are very organized defensively and that was one of the hardest things about playing them the last two times.  They like to high pressure our back line, so if we can get the ball to our midfielders there will be some space to play in there."

A LOOK AT DENMARK: Denmark is solid back to front, and were unfortunate to lose, 2-1, to France in their last match after seeing a winning goal disallowed for offside with just minutes to play followed by French defender Corinne Dicare's laser beam strike into the upper left corner of the Danish net as time expired.  Denmark goalkeeper Tine Cederkvist plays for Brondby, the former club of former U.S. men's international goalkeeper Brad Friedel, and is extremely athletic with a world class kicking game.  Denmark captain Katrine Pedersen, who plays for Floja in Norway, earned her 100th cap at the Algarve Cup.  She anchors a back line that has proven to be extremely organized and difficult to penetrate.  Denmark also has several personality players in midfielder Louise Hansen, who plays for Germany's top club FFC Frankfurt, flank midfielder Johanna Rasmussen, who gave the USA fits at the 2002 U-19 World Championship in Canada and scored in the game in Philly, and forward Merette Pedersen, who plays for Torres in the Italian First Division and scored once against the USA at Giants Stadium and twice at Lincoln Financial Field.  Former WUSA player Anne Nielsen and forward Stine Jensen, who scored a spectacular strike against France, can also break down a defense and finish from distance, meaning the USA will have to deal with dangerous players all over the field. Also for the first time the USA may be playing against a Mia without their Mia, but Danish defender Mia Olsen has not played yet in the tournament and is unlikely to see time against the USA.

GROUP A UPDATE: By virtue of Germany's 2-1 victory over Sweden and 4-0 win over Norway, they have qualified for the championship game with a match against China still remaining in Group play.  Against Norway, Germany made all six allowed substations for the second match in a row as head coach Tina Thuene-Meyer looks to give her young players as much experience as possible heading into the European Women's Championships this summer.  The changes had little impact on the well-oiled German machine as they scored three of the four goals in the second half.  Germany can now sit key players if they chose against China in preparation for the championship match, meaning whichever team they face will come up against not only a powerful, but well-rested German side.  In the other Group A match, Sweden rebounded from its 2-1 loss to Germany to defeat China 2-0 on goals by Frida Ostberg and Sara Johansson, her second of the tournament.  China, which is searching for its form after winning the Four Nations Tournament at home in January, is facing a last place finish in the group with the match against the Germans looming.  The final matches in Groups A and B will be held concurrently at different venues, although the Germans have taken most of the drama out of their group already.

GROUP C UPDATE: England logged its second straight 4-0 victory, this one over Portugal, and now faces Mexico for the Group title tomorrow.  Mexico also cruised with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland and the match against England will be one of the most important outside of a world championship or Women's World Cup Qualifying in Mexican history.  To defeat a European team on European soil, especially one preparing to host the European championships, would be a huge accomplishment for head coach Leo Cuellar's team.  Portugal and Northern Ireland meet in the other Group C match in what is in effect the first of two legs as they will face each other again in the match for 11th place on Tuesday, March 15.

Algarve Cup Match Day #3 Schedule:
March 13, 2005
Group A
China PR v Germany 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET Alvor - Campo de Restinga
Sweden v Norway 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET Loule - Estádio Municipal Loulé

Group B
USA v Denmark 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET VRSA - Estádio Municipal
Finland v France 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET Loule - Estádio Municipal Loulé

Group C
England v Mexico 1:45 pm local / 8:45 a.m. ET Lagos - Estádio Municipal de Lagos
Northern Ireland v Portugal 4:15pm local / 11:15 a.m. ET Lagos - Estádio Municipal de Lagos

12th Annual Algarve Cup
Standings
Group A
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
GER 2 0 0 6       6 1 +5
SWE 1 1 0 3       3 2 +1
NOR 1 1 0 3       2 5 -3
CHN 0 2 0 0       1 4 -3

March 9
Norway 2, China 1
Germany 2, Sweden 1

March 11
Sweden 2, China 0
Germany 4, Norway 0

Group B
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
USA 2 0 0 6       4 0 +4
DEN 1 1 0 3       5 3 +2
FRA 1 1 0 3       2 2 0
FIN   0 2 0 0       1 7 -6

March 9
Denmark 4, Finland 1
USA 1, France 0

March 11
USA 3, Finland 0
France 2, Denmark 1

Group C
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
ENG 2 0 0 6       8 0 +8
MEX 2 0 0 6       4 1 +3
POR 0 2 0 0       1 6 -5
NIR       0 2 0 0       0 6 -6

March 9
England 4, Northern Ireland 0
Mexico 2, Portugal 1

March 11
Mexico 2, Northern Ireland 0
England 4, Portugal 0

March 15
Match                                      Kickoff                                   Venue Stadium
Match for place 11th and 12th     10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET        Montechoro Hotel Montechoro Fields
Match for place 9th and 10th        10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET       Quarteira Estádio Municipal Quarteira
Match for place 7th and 8th        10 a.m. local / 5 a.m. ET         Guia Complexo Desportivo Arsénio Catuna
Match for place 5th and 6th        3 p.m. local / 10 a.m. ET          Faro Estádio San Luís
Match for place 3rd and 4th        5:30 p.m. local / 12:30 p.m. ET    Faro Estádio Algarve
Championship                           8:15 p.m. local / 3:15 p.m. ET     Faro Estádio Algarve

ALGARVE CUP TOP SCORERS: The USA's Christie Welsh is in rare company at the top of the Algarve Cup scoring chart with two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year Birgit Prinz of Germany.  Welsh and Prinz, who will meet in the final should the USA tie or defeat Denmark on Sunday, are the only two players with three goals each heading into the final Match Day.  Prinz scored twice against Norway while Welsh scored twice against Finland.  Following are all the goal scorers from the 2005 Algarve Cup:

Player (Country) Goals
Birgit Prinz (GER) 3
Christie Welsh (USA) 3
Vicky Exley (ENG) 2
Sara Johansson (SWE) 2
Annie Nielsen (DEN) 2
Patricia Perez (MEX) 2
Rachel Yankey (ENG) 2
Sandra Smiskek (GER) 1
Anja Mittag (GER) 1
Conny Pohlers (GER) 1
Han Duan (CHN) 1
Louise Hansen (DEN) 1
Stine Jensen (DEN) 1
Merete Pedersen (DEN) 1
Marinette Pichon (FRA) 1
Corinne Diacre (FRA) 1
Abby Wambach (USA) 1
Sanna Talonen (FIN) 1
Amanda Barr (ENG) 1
Karen Carney (ENG) 1
Rachel McArthur (ENG) 1
Casey Stoney (ENG) 1
Fatima Leyva (MEX) 1
Monica Gonzalez (MEX) 1
Trine Ronning (NOR) 1
Lindy Wilk (NOR) 1
Tania Pinto (POR) 1
Frida Osberg (SWE) 1

Team Rosters:
USA - GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Nicole Barnhart, 18-Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lindsey Huie, 6-Stephanie Lopez, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts, 14-Jill Oakes, 4-Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Lori Chalupny, 3-Lorrie Fair, 8-Angela Hucles, 13-Kristine Lilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (5): 9-Heather O'Reilly, 12-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh, 16-Kelly Wilson.

DENMARK - GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Tine Cederkvist, 18-Mette Christensen; DEFENDERS (6): 2-Mariann Knudsen, 3-Katrine Pedersen, 4-Gitte Andersen, 5-Bettina Hansen, 8-Dorte Jensen, 20-Mia Olsen; MIDFIELDERS (8): 6-Louise Hansen, 7-Cathrine Paaske-Sorensen, 9-Lene Jensen, 10-Anne Nielsen, 12-Janne Madsen, 14-Nadia Kjældgaard, 17-Helle Nielsen, 19-Nanna Johansen; FORWARDS (4): 11-Merete Pedersen, 13-Johanna Rasmussen, 15-Stine Jensen, 18-Mette Jokumsen.

Stat of Note
Abby Wambach has the best goals per game ratio of any player in U.S. history (who has more than five caps*), having scored 46 goals in 57 games for an average of 0.80 goals per game.  Mia Hamm finished her career with 0.57 goals per game while Kristine Lilly currently averages 0.34 goals per game.  Former U.S. head coach April Heinrichs averaged 0.78 goals per game in her 47-cap career while Michelle Akers averaged 0.69 GPG.

*In a little known U.S. Women's National Team fact, former University of Washington forward Caroline Putz holds the distinction of playing just the last few minutes of her one career match and scoring on her first and only touch in Women's National Team uniform in a 4-1 victory over Italy in July of 2000.  Former William and Mary forward Natalie Neaton scored four goals in her five career caps, also a 0.80 clip.

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