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U.S. Women Prepare for March 13 Match vs. France with Berth in Algarve Cup Finals at Stake

U.S. WOMEN FACE FRANCE FOR SPOT IN ALGARVE CUP TITLE GAME: The U.S. finds itself in a familiar position heading into the third and final group match at the Algarve Cup … in the driver’s seat. The U.S. team needs a win or a tie against France on Monday, March 13, in order to earn a berth in the championship game. Both teams have four points from a win and a draw, but the USA has a +5 goal differential while France, by virtue of a 2-2 draw vs. Denmark and a 1-0 win over China, sits at just +1, meaning a tie will put the U.S. in the championship against Germany on Wednesday, March 15. The USA is all but assured at least second place in the group, as even if the Americans should falter, it would be unlikely that China or Denmark could make up the goal difference in the final match between those teams. The USA-France match will take place at the beautiful Stadium Algarve, an ultra-modern stadium built for the 2004 European Championships. The match kicks off at 3:30 p.m. local time / 10:30 a.m. ET and can be followed live on’s MatchTracker. The game will be broadcast live across Europe in 19 languages on Eurosport. Visit the 2006 Algarve Cup competitions page at for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal.

STILL CAT, NOW WHITEHILL: There is a new name on the U.S. back line, but it's the same face. While she may look 18, baby-faced defender Cat Whitehill is 24 and recently married. The former Cat Reddick talks about her wedding, her emerging role with the U.S. team and how she will navigate college football Saturdays with her new hubby in this exclusive podcast.

USA vs. FRANCE HISTORY: The USA and France tied, 0-0, on Jan. 20 at the Four Nations Tournament in China. It was the first-ever draw for France against the USA, which holds a 10-0-1 all-time record against Les Bleus. The USA beat France, 5-1, in the 2004 Algarve Cup, but edged them, 1-0, during last year’s tournament in an extremely hard fought match on a 20th minute goal from Christie Welsh. The scoreless draw in China shows how far the French have come in their development as a team. In the Four Nations match played earlier this year, France played a very conservative tactical game to earn the draw. This time, France will not be able to pack the midfield with players if they want to advance to the championship, as they must take some risks offensively to get the win needed to make the final. In addition, star forward Marinette Pichon was not in China due to a family commitment, but she is at the Algarve Cup and will no doubt stretch the U.S. defense with her sophisticated runs and world-class finishing ability. The former WUSA star is winding down her international career and has yet to score in the tournament, but is still widely regarded as one of the best - and most crafty - strikers in the world.

FRANCE PLAYING CATCH UP TO MAKE CHINA 2007: France played very well at the 2005 European Championships, but a 3-0 opening game loss to Germany could not be undone by a 1-1 tie with eventual finalist Norway and a 3-1 victory over Italy. France (six points from three matches) got off to a tough start in their 2007 Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, losing to Holland at home and currently sits behind England (nine points from three games). The French will need some good results down the road to right the ship, starting with a March 26 match at England.

USA-FRANCE PREVIEW: France is no doubt one of the most individually talented teams in the world as evidenced by their 1-0 victory over China in their last Group B match. France had a 1-0 lead over China at the Four Nations tournament this year, only to give up a 90th minute equalizer. They have some wonderfully skilled midfielders who can provide service for Pichon in Sandrine Soubeyrand and captain Sonia Bompastor. In addition to Pinchon, France has several active and fast forwards, including Hoda Lattaf and Laetitia Tonazzi, who scored against Denmark. Midfielder Elise Bussaglia got her side’s lone goal against China. The USA’s clash with France will renew the rivalry of forward Abby Wambach against rugged French defender Laura Georges, who plays college soccer in the U.S. at Boston College. Georges is one of the few defenders in the world with the body mass and mentality to battle Wambach for 90 minutes, and after playing 64 minutes against Denmark, she should be fresh and ready for the challenge. France has an athletic goalkeeper in Sarah Bouhaddi, who can make the spectacular save, but has been known to drop a ball or two in traffic. The U.S. managed just 11 shots vs. France in their Four Nations match-up, and just one went on goal, so they certainly look to apply more pressure on Bouhaddi this time around.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who played in France with Olympique Lyonnaise, on the French:
“They have such a love for the game, I think that is one of the reasons they are developing so much as a national team. Individually, they are all very talented on the ball, but what I like about them the most is that they are all tough little players, they go in hard and are not afraid to do the dirty work.”

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Jenni Branam, 18-Hope Solo;
DEFENDERS (6): 8-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 21-Stephanie Lopez, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill;
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 13-Kristine Lilly, 11-Carli Lloyd, 15-Marci Miller, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner;
FORWARDS (5): 6-Natasha Kai, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 16-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh.

France Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Celine Deville, 16-Sarah Bouhaddi;
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Delphine Blanc, 3-Peggy Provost, 4-Laura Georges, 5-Sabine Viguier, 7-Sandrine Dusang, 19-Amelie Coquet, 20-Laure LePailleur;
MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand, 8-Sonia Bompastor, 10-Camille Abily, 13-Ludivine Diguelman, 14-Louisa Necib, 15-Elise Bussaglia, 17-Marie-Ange Kramo;
FORWARDS (4): 9-Marinette Pichon, 11-Laetitia Tonazzi, 12-Elodie Thomas, 18-Hoda Lattaf.

GROUP A UPDATE: Germany clinched a berth in the championship after only two group matches with a 3-0 victory over Sweden. It is rare that a team earns a berth in the title game after two matches at the Algarve Cup, but two wins for Germany coupled with a pair of ties in the other group contests clinched an early spot in Wednesday’s championship match. Norway has tied both its matches by identical 0-0 scorelines. Meanwhile, Sweden lost defender Stina Segerstrom for a second yellow card in the 43rd minute in their March 11 match vs. Germany. The foul resulted in a penalty kick that was converted by Melanie Behringer and the Swedes had to play a woman down the rest of the match. Germany added goals by Petra Wimbersky in the 59th minute and Birgit Prinz in the 89th. Germany’s eight goals through two games are the most of all 11 teams at the Algarve Cup. Norway, Sweden or Finland are all still fighting to finish second in the group.

GROUP C UPDATE: In the three-team Group C, Mexico tied Ireland, 0-0, and now the Mexico-Portugal match will determine which team, along with Ireland, gets to play a placement game. A Mexico tie would be good enough for second place and a spot in the ninth-place match against the worst of the two fourth place teams from Groups A and B.

13th Annual Algarve Cup
Algarve, Portugal

Group A
Norway, Sweden, Finland & Germany
Group B
USA, China PR, Denmark & France
Group C
Ireland, Portugal & Mexico

Algarve Cup MatchDay 3 Schedule:
March 13, 2006

Group A
Match-up                        Kickoff                                                 City          Venue
Germany vs. Norway   6:30 p.m. local / 1:30 a.m. ET         Faro        Estádio Algarve
Sweden vs. Finland     5:00 p.m. local / Noon ET                Lagos     Estádio Municipal

Group B
USA vs. France              3:30 p.m. local / 10:30 a.m. ET      Faro         Estádio Algarve
Denmark vs. China       3:30 p.m. local / 10:30 p.m. ET      Lagos     Estádio Municipal

Group C
Portugal vs. Mexico        4 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET                 Silves        Estádio Dr. Francisco Vieira

2006 Algarve Cup Scorers:
Player (Country)                      Goals
Melanie Behringer (GER)        2
Conny Pohlers (GER)              2
Birgit Prinz (GER)                      2
Heather O’Reilly (USA)            2
Kerstin Garefrekes (GER)       1
Petra Wimbersky (GER)          1
Annie Nielsen (DEN)                1
Cathrine Sorensen (DEN)       1
Natasha Kai (USA)                    1
Kristine Lilly (USA)                    1
Abby Wambach (USA)             1
Amelie Coquet (FRA)               1
Latetitia Tonazzi (FRA)             1
Elise Bussaglia (FRA)             1
Laura Hislop (IRL)                    1 

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