February 5, 2009
Three Breakers get U.S. call for Algarve Cup
CHICAGO---Three members of the Boston Breakers are among the 18 players selected by U.S. Women’s National team coach Pia Sundhage for the 2009 Algarve Cup, from March 4-11 in southern Portugal.
|Boston Breakers first draft pick Amy Rodriguez will be part of the U.S. team at the Algarve Cup.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Defender Heather Mitts, midfielder Angela Hucles and forward Amy Rodriguez are part of the team that will open Group B play on March 4 against Denmark, face Iceland on March 6 and finish the first-round against Norway on March 9.
Group A features Germany, Sweden, China and Finland. Group C consists of Portugal, Poland, Wales and first-time participant Austria. The venues and kickoff times for all the matches will be confirmed at a later date.
The USA will travel to Portugal to face teams gearing up for the 2009 UEFA Women’s Championships in Finland next summer. All six European teams in Groups A and B will be competing in Finland as the quadrennial European Women’s Championships will be contested by 12 teams for the first time, up from eight countries in the past.
“The Algarve Cup is always an important tournament and is especially good for the U.S. as we get to play the top European countries,” said Sundhage, who coached the Breakers in 2003 when they were in the WUSA. “We will not play as many matches this year as we did in 2008, so these games are important to keep the team evolving, in defending but especially in the attack. These games will test our ability to play our style while developing a rhythm that helps make our attack unpredictable and involves a lot of different players and positions. Of course, we are bringing some young players to the tournament this year and it will be great to get them some experience in these kinds of games.”
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 11. Fans can follow the USA’s intense schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and watch highlights on ussoccer.com’s all_access video.
The U.S. roster features 13 players from the 2008 Olympic gold medal champions, including three-fourths of the starting back line in captain Christie Rampone and flank defenders Mitts and Lori Chalupny. With Kate Markgraf pregnant, Olympian Rachel Buehler and uncapped Kendall Fletcher will compete for playing time, although Shannon Boxx also trained at center back during the recently completed camp. Boxx has twice been named the MVP of the Algarve Cup (2004 and 2006). Buehler made her international debut last year at the Algarve Cup.
Sundhage named three relatively inexperienced midfielders to go along with Olympians Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley, Heather O’Reilly and Carli Lloyd. Among midfielders Angie Woznuk (6 caps, 1 goal), Tina DiMartino (1/0) and Kacey White (15/0), only Woznuk has attended the Algarve Cup before, playing in two matches last year.
With forward Abby Wambach not quite game-ready as she nears the end of her comeback from a broken leg, the striking responsibilities will fall to Natasha Kai, the USA’s leading scorer last year with 15 goals, young forwards Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe, and Olympic hero Hucles, who can of course also play in the midfield. 2008 Olympics goalkeepers Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart make up the remainder of the roster.
Rampone leads the way in Algarve Cup experience as she will be playing in her ninth tournament. This will be the seventh Algarve Cup for Tarpley and O’Reilly and the sixth for Boxx. Lloyd and Tarpley are the top Algarve Cup scorers on the roster with each having found the net five times in the tournament. In 2007, Lloyd scored in each of the four Algarve Cup matches to earn MVP and top scorer honors. If Mitts plays in all four matches during the tournament, she will hit 100 caps in the USA’s last game. She would become the USA’s 25th female player to reach the century mark.
United States Women's National Team 2009 Algarve Cup Roster
The Algarve, Portugal March 4-11, 2009
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica);
DEFENDERS (5): Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis Athletica), Kendall Fletcher (Los Angeles Sol), Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC);
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (Los Angeles Sol), Tina DiMartino (FC Gold Pride), Carli Lloyd (Chicago Red Stars), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Lindsay Tarpley (Chicago Red Stars), Kacey White (Sky Blue FC), Angie Woznuk (St. Louis Athletica);
FORWARDS (4): Angela Hucles (Boston Breakers), Natasha Kai (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (Boston Breakers).