Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The defending Algarve Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team have been handed a big challenge in the first match of the 2014 tournament.
On Wednesday, the USWNT was placed in Group B of the 2014 Algarve Cup, setting up matches against Japan, Sweden, and Denmark, in that order. Also included in this year’s Algarve Cup include Germany (ranked No. 2), Norway, Iceland, and China (in Group A) and Portugal, Austria, Northern Ireland, and Russia (in Group C), making it one of the strongest field’s in tournament history.
The prestigious tournament will take place from March 5-12 in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. Kickoff times and venues will be finalized at a further time.
Japan was the USWNT’s opponent in both the 2011 World Cup, which Japan won, and the 2012 Summer Olympics, which the USWNT won. The match against Sweden marks the second time that the USWNT will face former coach Pia Sundhage.
The winners of Groups A and B meet in the final match on March 12 to determine the champion, while the second-placed teams play each other for third, then third-placed teams play for fifth. The teams who will be placed between 7-12 will be determined including teams from Group C, which include weaker countries.
Last year, the USWNT won the Algarve Cup with a 2-0 win over Germany in the championship match. Alex Morgan, who is currently recovering from a lingering injury, scored two goals in the victory.
According to U.S. Soccer, the USWNT has a 52-10-9 record all-time at the Algarve Cup and has scored 158 goals while allowing 54.
Prior to heading for Portugal, the USWNT will face Russia in a two-match friendly series beginning on Saturday in Boca Raton, Fla. and then next Wednesday in Atlanta.
What do you think of this news? Interested to see the USWNT go up against the best? Who do you see Sermanni calling up for this tournament? How do you think the USWNT will fare?
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