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U.S. WNT One Day Away From Algarve Cup Opener Against China

U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from The Algarve, Portugal
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

U.S. TEAM PREPARES TO FACE CHINA IN ALGARVE CUP OPENER, AGAIN: The U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off its 2008 Algarve Cup against China on Wednesday, March 5, in a match that can be followed live on’s MatchTracker at 1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET. The match will be played at Municipal Stadium in Albufeira, a venue that has not played host to a U.S. game in the Algarve Cup since 2002. The USA-China clash will mark the third year in a row the USA has opened the Algarve Cup with a back-to-back match against China after also closing the Four Nations Tournament in January against the long-time Asian power. Of those five matches so far, the USA has won four and tied one. This will be the fourth match of the year for the U.S. women after playing three in China at the Four Nations, and could mark the 2008 debut of defenders Kate Markgraf and Cat Whitehill, both of whom missed the Four Nations dude to injuries. For the complete Algarve Cup schedule, standings and links to other content, go to the Algarve Cup competitions page.

KICKOFF TIME: The USA arrived in Portugal on Feb. 26 and has had eight on-field training sessions leading into the opening match. The U.S. team was together for two weeks in China in January and then had a 17-day training camp in Los Angeles in February. The Algarve Cup will serve as excellent preparation for the next event: 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying being held April 2-12 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The USA will spend one week training in Los Angeles at The Home Depot Center before leaving for Ciudad Juarez right at the end of March. The USA’s schedule for this year’s tournament is similar to last year. The Americans open with China, face a European side pushing to break into the elite (last year Finland, this year Italy) then finish with a Scandinavian power (last year Sweden, this year Norway).

15th Annual Algarve Cup
Algarve, Portugal

Group A
Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
Group B
USA, Norway, China, Italy
Group C
Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Poland

U.S. WNT 2008 Algarve Cup Schedule
Date         Matchup                     Venue         Stadium                         Kickoff Time
March 5   USA vs. China           Albufeira     Municipal Stadium      1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET
March 7   USA vs. Italy               Alvor             Restinga Stadium      1:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET
March 10 USA vs. Norway        Alvor             Restinga Stadium      3 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
March 12 Placement Match     TBD              TBD                               TBD

MAKE IT 13 ALGARVE CUPS: This will be the 13th Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have gone 7-1-4 in openers of this annual March 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. In 2005, the team amazingly went through all four games without allowing a goal, the first and only time that has happened.


  • The USA is 31-9-7 all-time in the Algarve Cup.
  • The USA has scored 98 goals while allowing 43 at the Algarve Cup.
  • The most goals the USA has ever scored in an Algarve Cup game is seven, achieved against Portugal in 2000.
  • The most goals the USA has ever scored in an Algarve Cup game not against Portugal is five, scored against France in a 5-1 win in 2004 and against Denmark in a 5-0 win in 2006.
  • The USA is 2-1-1 all-time in matches played in Albufeira and has never played in Alvor.
  • The USA has a combined 7-5-2 all-time record at the Algarve Cup against China and Norway, but has never faced Italy at this tournament.
  • The USA had been shutout in just four of its 47 all-time Algarve Cup games. Two of those matches came in 2001 when the USA brought a young team during the startup of the WUSA. The other two were in 2006, both ending 0-0 in regulation against China and Germany. The tie against China in last year’s opener broke a streak of 17 straight games in which the USA has scored at this tournament.
  • Five teams have played in all 14 Algarve Cups: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal.
  • There will be four awards at the end at the end of the competition: 1) Best Scorer, 2) Best Goalkeeper, 3) Best Player and 4) The Fair Play Award.
  • Each team is allowed six substitutions per game.
  • In the event that teams are tied at the end of group play, the first tiebreaker is the result of the matches between two teams (head-to-head), the second is goal differential and the third is goals scored.
  • The 24 matches of this year’s Algarve Cup will be played in nine different venues ranging from tiny stadiums that seat several thousand to the state-of-the art 30,000-seat Estadio Algarve.
  • Of the three U.S. first-round opponents, China has played in the last 12 tournaments, winning it in 1999 and 2002. Italy has played in the tournament twice, finishing seventh in 1995 and fourth in 2004. Norway has played in every tournament and won four times, but hasn’t taken top honors since 1998.
  • For the past four years, the Algarve Cup has served as a training ground for some of the world’s top female referees. This year, 21 referees and 24 assistant referees have come to the Algarve for a referee workshop and to compete for spots at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile.
  • Another interesting referee note: At selected matches, there will be six officials: a referee, two assistants, a fourth official…and two goal-line referees, who will stand behind the goal to determine if a shot did in fact cross the line in controversial situations.

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 fourth in Group C will play each other for 11th place.

BIG TEAMS, BIG GAMES: The Algarve Cup has staked a claim as the world’s top women’s international tournament outside of the Women’s World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships. That is backed up by the participation of five of the top-10 teams in the world according to the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings. Group A promises six world championship-caliber games as No. 1 Germany, No. 3 Sweden, No. 8 Denmark and No. 16 Finland, the host of the next European Championships, square off. The USA’s Group B features No. 2 USA, No. 5 Norway, No. 13 China and No. 14 Italy.

15th Annual Algarve Cup Participants
FIFA Women’s World Rankings

World Rank     Country
1                        Germany
2                        USA
3                        Sweden
5                        Norway
8                        Denmark
13                      China
14                      Italy
16                      Finland
21                      Iceland
27                      Poland
31                      Ireland
47                      Portugal

Current FIFA World Ranking: 13
2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Results: Denmark, 3-2 W; Brazil, 0-4 L; New Zealand, 2-0 W; Norway, 0-1 L
Overall Record vs. USA: 8-20-11
China record vs. the USA at Algarve Cup: 1-3-1
Last Meeting vs. USA: Jan. 20, 2008, in Guangzhou, China (1-0 U.S. win)
Coach: Elisabeth Loisel
Algarve Cup Finals: 3 – 1991, 2002 (champions), 2003
Key Players: G Zhang Yanru, D Li Jie, D Zhang Ying, M Bi Yan, M Zhang Na, M Xie Caixia, F Liu Yali, F Han Duan.

USA vs. China Fast Facts: China’s top forward is Han Duan, who scored against the USA at last year’s Algarve Cup, but she did not find the net in the 2007 WWC ... This is the first Algarve Cup for China under French national Elisabeth Loisel, although she coached France in this tournament on several occasions, including 5-1, 1-0 and 4-1 losses to the USA in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively … China came to the Algarve from Germany, where they lost 2-0 to the defending Women’s World Cup champs on two late goals … Lindsay Tarpley leads the USA in scoring this year with four goals, all scored at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January … Shannon Boxx scored the lone U.S. goal in the last match vs. China, sending a looping header into the net off a cross from the right flank … Heather O’Reilly is coming of an MVP performance at the Four Nations Tournament … Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is looking for her first cap since Oct. 2007 against Mexico on the post-WWC tour, which was her first cap since 2005 … Abby Wambach is looking for her first goal of 2008 … Defender Rachel Buehler is the only uncapped player on the roster.

LAST YEAR AT THE ALGARVE: The USA out-shot China 15-4 in the Algarve opener for both teams last year, but the USA managed just a 2-1 win. The first goal came on a penalty kick converted by Kristine Lilly in the 19th minute after Chinese defender Li Jie hauled down Abby Wambach in the penalty area as both battled to get position under a long free kick. China’s Han Duan tied the game just two minutes later, placing a sneaky header into the right corner off a free kick. The USA got the game-winner in the 38th minute off a blast from Carli Lloyd, the first of her four goals in the tournament last year.

LOOKING TOWARDS BEIJING: Fourteen of the 20 players on the USA’s 2008 Algarve Cup roster were on the 2007 Women’s World Cup Team, reflecting both a veteran presence and U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s effort to incorporate some young players into key positions.

2008 U.S. Algarve Cup Roster:
USA - GOALKEEPERS (2):24-Nicole Barnhart, 18-Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (7): 26-Rachel Buehler, 17-Lori Chalupny, 14-Stephanie Cox, 13-Tobin Heath, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill; MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Angie Woznuk; FORWARDS (5): 8-Lauren Cheney, 6-Natasha Kai, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 19-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach.

2008 China Algarve Cup Roster (China will name 20 players for the tournament):
CHINA - 1-Zhang Yanru, 2-Yuan Fan, 3-Le Jie, 4-Kun Wang, 5-Jiang Shuai, 6-Zhang Ying, 7-Bi Yan, 8-Zhang Na, 9-Han Duan, 10-Zi Jiangjing, 11-Xie Caixia, 12-Qu Feifei, 13-Guo Yue, 14-Zhou Gaoping, 15-Liu Yali, 16-Zhang Cheng, 17-Weng Xiaojie, 18-Zhang Tong, 19-Song Xiaoli, 20-Yu Weimin, 21-Xu Yuan, 22-Yue Min, 23-Han Wenxia, 24-Wei Xiaofen.

OLYMPIC TUNE-UP?: Of the 12 teams that will play in the Olympics, seven have already qualified and four of those are at the 2008 Algarve Cup, European qualifiers Germany, Sweden and Norway, and host China. The USA will get matches against two of those teams, and hopefully a third, in what could be a preview of matches at the Olympics, should the USA qualify in April.

Stat of Note
The USA has averaged 8.16 goals per tournament over its 12 trips to the Algarve Cup, a pretty impressive statistic considering the level of competition. The most goals ever scored by the USA during the Algarve Cup was 11, achieved in 2000 and 2004, both times in title-winning runs. The least goals came in 2001 and 2003 with five, but the Americans still came out as tournament champions in 2003, getting two 1-1 draws and a 1-0 win in group play before defeating China in the title game, 2-0.