Feb. 21, 2008
UCLA women's soccer player Lauren Cheney was recently named one of 20 players selected to represent the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2008 Algarve Cup, March 5-12 in Portugal.
Below is the release courtesy of U.S. Soccer
CHICAGO - Following a 17-day training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage has named 20 players to the roster for the 2008 Algarve Cup, being held from March 5-12 in southern Portugal.
The U.S. team, which has been placed into Group B at the prestigious tournament, will open play on March 5 against China, face Norway on March 7 and finish the first round against Italy on March 10. The USA will play its first two matches in Faro at the Estadio Algarve, a beautiful 30,000-seat venue built for the 2004 European Championship. The U.S. women will face Italy in Portimão.
The USA will use this tournament as final preparation for 2008 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying, which will be held April 2-13 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. All three of Europe's entrants in the 2008 Olympic Women's Football Tournament will be competing at the 2008 Algarve Cup. In addition to Norway in the USA's group, Olympic qualifiers Germany and Sweden are in Group A, along with Denmark and Finland. This year Group C features Portugal, Ireland, Iceland and first-time participant Poland.
"The Algarve Cup is a very important tournament for several reasons," said Sundhage. "First, it is excellent preparation for the Olympic qualification, especially playing four difficult matches in eight days. That is a test of our fitness, our mental toughness and also our depth. But also, like we faced in the Four Nations Tournament in China, it gives the team a chance to play against three very good teams in the group who all play different styles, and that is fantastic for the development of our team rhythm, as well as for our young players getting experience at a big tournament."
Besides the matches at the Estadio Algarve, all the games will be played at small venues spread out over the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country with the placement matches taking place on March 12. Fans can follow the USA's intense schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and watch exclusive highlights on ussoccer.com's all_access video.
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, in Vila Real de San Antonio, which is on Portugal's eastern border with Spain. The two second-place 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 7-12 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 13th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women who from 2003-2005 won an unprecedented three straight championships at what has become one of the world's most competitive women's international events. At last year's Algarve Cup, the USA defeated Denmark, 2-0, in the championship game on goals from Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd in the team's fifth consecutive Algarve Cup final. The USA advanced to the championship game of the 2006 Algarve Cup but fell in penalty kicks to Germany.
While the USA will be without Kristine Lilly, its all-time leading scorer in Algarve Cup matches (13 goals), several players on the USA's roster have seen some great success at the Algarve Cup. Last year, midfielder Carli Lloyd had a breakout tournament, scoring in all four matches to garner tournament MVP and top scorer honors. Forward Abby Wambach has scored nine goals in her tournament career, including a hat trick against Norway in the 2004 championship game. Midfielder Angela Hucles has scored three of her five career goals at the Algarve, all coming in 2004. Midfielder Shannon Boxx has twice been named MVP of the Algarve Cup (2004 and 2006).
Fifteen of the players on the roster were on the USA's 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Team, and all of these 15 have played in multiple Algarve Cups, including defenders Christie Rampone and Cat Whitehill, who will be playing in their eighth Algarve Cup. But Sundhage has also infused the roster with some young talent. Uncapped defender Rachel Buehler makes her first-ever tournament roster with the WNT after having played extensively with the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team as well as in two FIFA U-19 world championships (Canada '02 and Thailand '04). Young forwards Amy Rodriguez, who made her debut at the Algarve Cup in 2005, and Lauren Cheney were named to the roster along with midfielder Angie Woznuk and flank defender Tobin Heath, who is the youngest player on the squad at 19. Cheney, Woznuk and Heath, all of whom played for the USA at the Four Nations Tournament in January, will be making their first trips to Portugal.
Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, who has just four caps, was named to the roster and has the chance to play in her second Algarve Cup after earning her first cap in goal for the USA at the 2005 Algarve Cup in a 1-0 win over France. Barnhart joins Hope Solo as one of the two goalkeepers on the roster. Defender Heather Mitts, who has not played for the USA since May of 2007 when she suffered a torn ACL, was not named as one of the 20 players on the Algarve Cup roster, but after participating in her first full training camp over the past two weeks, she will travel to Portugal as the 21st player to train with the team as her comeback nears completion.
United States Women's National Team Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (2) (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Hope Solo (5) (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (1) (Del Mar, Calif.), Stephanie Cox (4) (Elk Grove, Calif.), Tobin Heath (1) (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Kate Markgraf (7) (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Christie Rampone (8) (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Cat Whitehill (8) (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (5) (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (5) (St. Louis, Mo.), Angela Hucles (4) (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (3) (Delran, N.J.), Leslie Osborne (4) (Brookfield, Wis.), Lindsay Tarpley (6) (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Angie Woznuk (1) (El Cajon, Calif.);
FORWARDS (5): Lauren Cheney (1) (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (3) (Kahuku, Hawaii), Heather O'Reilly (6) (East Brunswick, N.J.), Amy Rodriguez (3) (Lake Forest, Calif.), Abby Wambach (5) (Rochester, N.Y.)
*Number of Algarve Cups attended, including 2008, in parenthesis.
15th Annual Algarve Cup Groups
Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland
USA, Norway, China, Italy
Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Poland