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December 19, 2011
U.S. vs. Japan women in Algarve Cup

The U.S. women have been placed in Group B at the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, where they will face Denmark, Norway and Japan during the tournament that will run from Feb. 29 through March 7.

The Americans 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 Women’s World Cup final. Group A will feature Germany, Sweden, China and Iceland, a surprise finalist at last year’s tournament. The three nations that will join host Portugal in Group C have yet to be announced.

The 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.

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 American 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 vie for three in a row.

The U.S. team is focusing on the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament being held in Vancouver, Canada on Jan 19-29.

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 10:30 p.m. ET. The Americans will face Guatemala on Sunday, Jan. 22 (7:30 p.m. ET) and finish group play against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24 (10:30 p.m. ET).

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 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 doubleheader formats.

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