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February 11, 2010
Three from Breakers on WNT for Algarve

Breaker's defender Stephanie Cox will be making her return to the U.S. Women's National Team.
Breaker's defender Stephanie Cox will be making her return to the U.S. Women's National Team.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHICAGO---Three members of the Boston Breakers Thursday were named to the U.S. Women's National Team roster for the Algarve Cup. Named to the 19-player roster by coach Pia Sundhage were defenders Amy LePeilbet and Stepahni Cox and rookie forward Lauren Cheney.

Two of the United States’ veteran defenders will be missing the tournament. Christie Rampone of Sky Blue FC is sidelined while preparing for the birth of her second child, while Saint Louis Athletica defender Lori Chalupny has taken an indefinite leave from soccer to deal with concussion related issues. Still, the U.S.'s centerback tandem of LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler, who did well in last October’s 1-0 victory over Germany, should get the chance to step up again. They will be joined by 2007 Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympic veteran defender Cox, who makes her return to the U.S. roster after playing in one match last year. She has 55 career caps.

The Americans scored only five goals at the Algarve Cup last year, its lowest total at the tournament in seven years, and just one of the players, Saint Louis Athletica midfielder Shannon Boxx, who scored in 2009 is on this year’s roster. Still, the U.S. team is stocked with veteran talent, led by Boxx (the 2004 and 2006 Algarve Cup MVP), Abby Wambach (the U.S.’s leading scorer with 101 goals), and 100-plus capped defenders Cat Whitehill and Heather Mitts, as well as flank midfielder Heather O’Reilly (116 caps, 25 goals).

The USA will be looking for goal production from Carli Lloyd, who was the MVP of the 2007 Algarve Cup after scoring in all four games, as well as from young forwards Amy Rodriguez, Cheney and Casey Nogueira, all of whom may see time next to Wambach on the U.S.’s front line. Flank midfielder Tobin Heath the top pick in the 2010 WPS Draft by the Atlanta Beat, may get the opportunity to break into the first 11 after starting in six of her 19 career caps so far.

Wambach missed the Algarve Cup last year while recovering from a broken leg but scored three times at the 2008 tournament and has 12 goals all-time during the competition, one short of Kristine Lilly’s team-record 13.

This year’s tournament is being staged a week earlier than normal and will run from Feb. 24 through March 3. The U.S. team will depart for Europe Feb. 18. The venues and kickoff times have yet to be confirmed. All the games will be played at small venues spread across the Algarve region on the southern coast of Portugal, and the placement matches will take place on March 3.

The U.S. team, which has been placed into Group B at the annual tournament, will open play on Feb. 24 against Iceland, face Norway on Feb. 26 and finish the first-round on March 1 against Sweden, home country of Sundhage. Group A features Germany, China, Finland and Denmark. The eight teams in Groups A and B are the same as in last year’s tournament with the groupings also virtually the same, the only difference being that Denmark and Sweden have swapped groups. Group C features host Portugal, Austria and first-time Algarve Cup participants Romania and the Faroe Islands.

Since the expansion from eight to 12 teams nine 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 3. 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.

The U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica)

Defenders (6): Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC), Cat Whitehill (Washington Freedom)

Midfielders (6): Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue FC), Shannon Boxx (St. Louis Athletica), Tobin Heath (Atlanta Beat), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC)

Forwards (4): Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Casey Nogueira (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

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