As the U.S. WNT gets acclimated to the time zone here in Portugal, training has proceeded well with everyone healthy and ready to compete for starting spots.
Since arriving in-country on Feb. 26, the U.S. team has had just one double-day of sessions so the once-a-day practices have been quite intense and physical. It is clear, however, that the squad is more than ready to face some players in different uniform from their own.
The small-side games have featured some great goals, fantastic saves and more than a few crunching tackles.
With a challenging schedule of four games in eight days, the Algarve Cup has long been a proving ground for U.S. players and more than a few have received their first caps here. In fact, defender Rachel Buehler debuted at the Algarve Cup in 2008 and is set for her 100th cap at this same tournament in 2013.
The USA has a bit of a chip on its shoulder this year as after winning back-to-back tournament titles in 2010 and 2011, the team finished in third place last year. However, the loss to Japan in group play that put the USA in the third-place match (where it defeated Sweden 4-0) turned out to be the only loss of the year for the U.S. team.
The USA has had some tremendous success at the Algarve Cup (eight straight appearances in the championship game from 2004-2012 and eight titles overall), 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. The Algarve Cup had six teams in its first event in 1994, switched to eight teams in 1995 and then 12 teams in 2002. Here is a history of the U.S. WNT in the Algarve Cup:
Year U.S. Finish
1996 Did not participate
1997 Did not participate