The eight teams will be split into two groups of four, with first-round play consisting of round-robin matches within the group. The USA, which is participating in the tournament for the fifth time, was drawn into Group A with Sweden, Finland and 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup champion Norway. Group B consists of China, Australia, Denmark and Portugal. China, Australia and Sweden, who were all drawn into Group D for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, will get an early look at each other in the Algarve.
At the end of round-robin play within the groups, the group winners will play for the championship. The two second-place group finishers will play for third place, the third-place finishers for fifth and the last-place finishers will play for seventh. The U.S. team will depart for Portugal on March 9.
The USA will open the Algarve Cup on Sun., March 14 against Sweden, face Finland on Tues., March 16 and finish first-round play with Norway on Thurs., March 18, in a match that could decide the berth in the championship game. The placement games will take place on Sat., March 20, making for a grueling schedule of four games in seven days.
The U.S. team has not found success in their four previous trips to the tournament, which this year is organized jointly by the Norwegian and Portugal Soccer Federations, but has been held in Portugal in five of its six years of existence. The Americans have come home empty-handed from all four tournaments. At last year's Algarve Cup, the USA went into its final first-round game against Norway needing a win, a tie or a loss by less than three goals to make the championship game. Instead, Norway shocked the USA, 4-1, handing the Americans their only loss of the year.
In 1993, the USA finished fourth at a six-team tournament held in Agai, Cyprus, defeating Denmark, but losing to both Germany and Norway by 1-0 scores. In 1994, the Americans took second in the six-team event held for the first time in Portugal, defeating Portugal and Sweden before falling in the championship game to Norway, 1-0. In 1995, the U.S. finished fourth again, this time in an expanded eight-team field, defeating Finland and Portugal, before losing to Denmark 2-0. The U.S. then lost to Norway in a penalty kick shootout, 4-2, after tying 3-3 during regulation time in the match for 3rd place. The USA did not participate in the 1995 and 1996 tournaments due to preparation for the Olympics.
The Americans have a 9-1-1 overall record against Sweden, but none of those wins have been by more than a three-goal margin and six have been by two goals or less. The USA defeated Sweden for third place at last year's Algarve Cup, 3-1. The USA also played Finland in Portugal last year, winning 2-0 in the first round, and owns a 4-0-0 record while never allowing a goal. The USA will face Finland twice this month, Feb. 24 in a closed-door match in Orlando and Feb. 27 at the University of Tampa (4 p.m. ET on espn2).
The USA has a long history with Norway, which is the only team in the world that owns a winning record against the U.S. women. At 9-11-1, the Americans were on the verge of evening the series at last year's Algarve Cup before the 4-1 loss. As both teams are on the opposite sides of the draw of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, this meeting could be a preview of the World Cup Final on July 10 in Pasadena, Calif.
|Sunday, March 14
|Tuesday, March 16
|Thursday, March 18
|Saturday, March 20
Media wishing to attend the 6th Algarve Cup should fly into Lisbon. You can then take a four-hour bus ride to the Algarve or fly to Faro, which is directly adjacent to the Algarve. Media wishing to attend the Algarve Cup should contact Aaron Heifetz at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup (310/284-7847) and he will send your name and affiliation to the Portuguese FA. No accreditation is needed to attend the games. For additional information, please contact the Portugal Football Association at:
- Hotel Montechoro
Apartado 928, 8201 Albufeira
Contact: Nelson Pascoal, Conference & Sales Manager
- Hotel Alfa Mar
Praia De Falesia, Apartado 2159, 8200 Albufeira
Fax: 011-31-501-404 or 501-069
The 1999 Algarve Cup will feature some of the world's top players.
USA: Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly.
Norway: Marianne Pettersen, Linda Medalen, Bente Nordby, Hege Riise.
Australia: Julie Murray, Lisa Casadgrande, Sonia Gegenhuber.
China: Sun Wen, Liu Ailing, Fan Yunjie, Hong Gao, Zhou Lihong.
Denmark: Lene Terp, Gitte Krogh, Anne Nielsen.
Sweden: Malin Andersson, Ulrika Karlsson, Hanna Ljungberg, Kristin Bengtsson.