CHICAGO (Dec. 19, 2011) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has been placed in Group B at the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, where it will face Denmark, Norway and Japan during the tournament that will run from Feb. 29 through March 7, 2012.
The USA will open its tournament on Feb. 29 against Denmark, will face Norway on March 2 and will meet Japan on March 5 to finish group play in what will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. Group A will feature Germany, Sweden, China and Iceland, a surprise finalist at least year’s tournament. The three nations that will join host Portugal in Group C have yet to be announced.
The 2012 Algarve Cup will feature four of the top five teams in the world in the USA, Germany, Japan and Sweden.
The venues and kickoff times for all the matches have yet to be confirmed, but all the games will be played at small venues across the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country. Placement matches will take place on March 7. Fans can follow the USA’s intense schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker or on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and can watch highlights on ussoccer.com.
Since the expansion to 12 teams 11 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 on Wednesday, March 7, in the championship game. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers in each group will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A or B for seventh place. The second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team from Groups A or B for ninth place, and the third and fourth place finishers in Group C will play each other for 11th place.
This will be the 17th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. Women, who have won the tournament a record eight times, including an unprecedented three straight championships from 2003-05 at what has become one of the world’s most competitive international women’s events. Last year, the USA defeated Iceland 4-2 in the championship game for its second consecutive title and will once again be going for three in a row.
The U.S. team is currently focusing on the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament being held Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver, Canada. The USA will open Group B play against the Dominican Republic on the second match day of the competition, squaring off against the Caribbean nation on Friday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. PT. The USA will then face Guatemala on Sunday, Jan. 22 (4:30 p.m. PT) and finish group play against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24 (7:30 p.m. PT). Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster.
All the matches of the tournament will be played at the newly renovated BC Place. The group winners and runners-up will play in the all-important semifinals on Friday, Jan. 27, with the winners of those games qualifying for the Olympics. The championship game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 29. All the group games and the semifinals will be played in double-header formats.