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U.S. WNT Arrives in Portugal Ahead of The Algarve Cup

U.S. Women’s National Team
2010 Algarve Cup Notes
The Algarve, Portugal
Saturday, Feb. 20

U.S. WNT TOUCHES DOWN IN PORTUGAL FOR ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team has arrived on the cloudy southern coast of Portugal to prepare for its first international matches of 2010, which will come at the always competitive Algarve Cup. The U.S. team arrived early in the morning on Feb. 19 and has five days before the first match against Iceland on Wed., Feb. 24, just about enough time to get rid of jet lag and get in some good training. The USA’s match with Iceland will be the second meeting between the two countries at the Algarve Cup after also having played last year. Municipal Stadium in Vila Real de San Antonio will host an opening Group B doubleheader as long-time rivals Sweden and Norway clash after the U.S. match. The USA will face Norway on Feb. 26 at Estadio Jose Arcanjo in Olhão and finish group play against Sweden on March 1 in Ferreiras. All of the U.S. games kick off at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) and fans can follow the action as it happens on’s MatchTracker.

ICE TIME: For the second consecutive year, the U.S. women open their international match schedule at the Algarve Cup. Seven times during the last decade, the U.S. team traveled to China for a tournament in January, but this year a training camp in Los Angeles opened the 2010 activity as the USA spent almost three weeks training at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., getting ready for the Algarve Cup. The U.S. team’s first opponent at this year’s Algarve Cup – Iceland – was also in the USA’s group last year, but the two teams met in the second match, a 1-0 victory on a late goal from Natasha Kai. The U.S. players will be heading to WPS pre-season training camp after the Algarve Cup, but the USA should get about 15-16 international matches this year, which include CONCACAF World Cup qualifying sometime during the fall.

17th Annual Algarve Cup
The Algarve, Portugal
Group A
Germany, Demark, China, Finland

Group B
USA, Norway, Sweden, Iceland

Group C
Portugal, Austria, Romania, Faroe Islands

U.S. WNT 2010 Algarve Cup Schedule
Date      Match                  Venue                                             Kickoff Time (local/ET)

Feb. 24   USA vs. Iceland      VR de SA Estádio Municipal                3 p.m. / 10 a.m.
Feb. 26   USA vs. Norway     Olhão Estadio José Arcanjo                 3 p.m. / 10 a.m.
March 1  USA vs. Sweden     Ferreiras Parque Desportiva da Nora    3 p.m. / 10 a.m.
March 4  Placement Match     TBD                                                      TBD

15 YEARS IN PORTUGAL: This will be the 15th Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have gone 9-1-4 in openers of this annual tournament. The only opening game loss came in 2001 when the USA brought a very young team to the Algarve during WUSA pre-season camps. In 2007, the USA won all four games of the tournament for only the third time in 12 previous appearances, a testament to the difficulty of this competition. The USA then came back in 2008 and won all four games again, giving the Americans an eight-game Algarve Cup winning streak, matched only by China over 1998, 1999 (when China beat the USA in the final) and 2000 tournaments, and Norway during the 1996 and 1997 tournaments, which just happened to be the only two Algarve Cups in which the USA did not participate. Last year, the USA struggled a bit in all of its group games, scoring just four goals in the three matches, but won all three games while allowing zero goals and advanced to its seventh straight Algarve Cup Final. Those three wins upped the USA’s Algarve Cup winning streak to a tournament-record 11 games, but it came to an end in the championship as Sweden outplayed the USA. Still, a fantastic effort from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo kept the match close until the end when Shannon Boxx’s stoppage time goal tied the match 1-1, sending it to penalty kicks where the Americans fell, 4-3.

YOUNG AMERICANS: The USA comes to the 2010 Algarve Cup with a 19-player roster, but with only two players are age 30 or above, although Lori Lindsey turns 30 in March and Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart are both 29. The oldest players are Shannon Boxx (32) and Heather Mitts (31). The USA’s youth is represented by the fact that only eight of the 18 players who were on the Algarve Cup roster last year return for the 2010 tournament. Not counting the 2001 Algarve team (which was a young squad that didn’t include any professional players during the first WUSA pre-season), this year’s squad represents the largest ever roster turnover for the USA from year-to-year at the Algarve Cup. The make-up of the roster gives several young players the chance to impress U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage in some highly competitive games as USA continues on its long road to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

• The USA is 38-9-8 all-time in the Algarve Cup.
• The USA has scored 115 goals while allowing 45 at the Algarve Cup.
• Norway has scored the most goals in Algarve Cup history (124), but have also allowed 62.
• Finland has allowed the most goals, letting in 141 over the 16 tournaments.
• The most goals the USA has ever scored in an Algarve Cup game is seven, achieved against Portugal in 2000.
• The USA has not lost a match in regulation time in the Algarve Cup since 2004, a 3-1 setback to Sweden. The USA still made the championship game though and won its first Algarve Cup title, 2-0, over China.
• Seven players on the USA’s roster have scored at the Algarve Cup: Abby Wambach (12 goals), Carli Lloyd (5), Heather O’Reilly (4), Shannon Boxx (1), and Cat Whitehill (1).
• Whitehill’s lone Algarve Cup goal came off a tremendous direct free-kick in 2001 against Norway when she was part of the young squad that finished sixth, the USA’s lowest-ever finish in this tournament. It was her first goal for the senior team. She has since scored 10 more in her overall career, making her one of the highest scoring defenders in U.S. history.
• The most goals the USA has ever scored in an Algarve Cup game not against Portugal is five, achieved against France in a 5-1 win in 2004 and against Denmark in a 5-0 win in 2006.
• The USA had been shutout in just four of its 55 all-time Algarve Cup games (with two coming in 2001 when the USA brought a young team during the start-up of the WUSA), but were shutout twice in 2006, with both games ending 0-0 in regulation against China and Germany. The tie against China in the 2006 Algarve opener broke a streak of 17 straight games in which the USA had scored at this tournament. The USA has scored in 12 straight Algarve Cup games.
• Fives teams have played in all 16 Algarve Cups so far: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal.
• Twenty-four countries have participated in the Algarve Cup over the years. Debutantes Romania and the Faroe Islands will play this year.
• Swedish legend Hanna Ljungberg has scored 15 career goals at the Algarve Cup, the most all time. Two players have 14 and two have 13 (including U.S. legend Kristine Lilly). With a great goal scoring tournament this year, Wambach (with 12) could tie or pass Ljungberg. Wambach scored four goals at the 2004 Algarve Cup, including a hat trick in the championship game, one of 16 hat tricks in the tournament’s history. Four have come from Americans: Wambach, Cindy Parlow, Mia Hamm and Shannon MacMillan.
• U.S. assistant coach Hege Riise scored 12 goals in this tournament while playing for Norway.

ALL-TIME U.S. FINISHES AT THE ALGARVE CUP: The USA has had some tremendous success at the Algarve Cup (seven straight appearances in the championship game and five titles), but the USA didn’t win its first until its sixth try in 2000 when a Brandi Chastain penalty kick defeated Norway in the title game, 1-0. It took the USA three years to win it again.

Algarve Cup Evolution
Year   U.S. Finish                Number of teams   Champion      Runner-Up
1994  Second                     Six                        Norway         USA
1995  Fourth                      Eight                     Sweden         Denmark
1996  Did not participate     Eight                     Sweden         Norway
1997  Did not participate     Eight                     Norway         China
1998  Third                       Eight                     Norway          Denmark
1999  Second                     Eight                    China             USA
2000  First                         Eight                     USA              Norway
2001  Sixth                        Eight                     Sweden         Denmark
2002  Fifth                         Twelve                  China            Norway
2003  First                         Twelve                  USA              China
2004  First                         Twelve                  USA              Norway
2005  First                         Twelve                  USA              Germany
2006  Second                     Twelve                  Germany       USA
2007  First                         Twelve                  USA              Denmark
2008  First                         Twelve                  USA              Denmark
2009  Second                     Twelve                  Sweden         USA

HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE: With the success of the U.S. team in this tournament, the Americans have also taken home several individual awards over the years, including five MVPs and five Top Scorer awards. In 1999, Tiffeny Milbrett was the Best Player and the Top Scorer with four goals. In 2002, Shannon MacMillan was the Top Scorer with seven goals (the most ever in one Algarve Cup tournament by a U.S. player). In 2004, Abby Wambach was the Top Scorer with five goals and Shannon Boxx was voted Best Player. In 2005, Christie Welsh was Top Scorer with five goals. In 2006, Hope Solo was voted Best Goalkeeper and Boxx took home her second Algarve Cup MVP award. In 2007, Carli Lloyd did the double, taking the Top Scorer (four goals) and Best Player Awards. In 2009, Solo was the first goalkeeper to win the tournament MVP award.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams seven 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 12. 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. It’s been raining in the Algarve and while the fields are not in bad shape, they are soft and bumpy. If the rain persists, and it’s supposed to, the quality of the pitches could impact the matches.

Stat of Note
Norway has won the most matches ever the Algarve Cup with 39. The USA has 38 wins, but has participated in two less tournaments.