The Algarve – Round Two

Pia at Work!This morning at 8:45 ET the USWNT faces Italy in their second game at the Algarve.  I realized, in reading up on this event, that I hadn’t really provided a basic overview of this competition … so here you go!

The Algarve Cup brings together the top teams in Europe with regular participants the USA and China for a weeklong tournament in southern Portugal.  This year’s event takes place March 5-12 and marks the tournament’s 15th anniversary.  The top eight teams, divided into two groups, will contest three group play games before placement matches are held on the Algarve Cup’s last day.  Group A consists of Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden.  The U.S. will face Norway, China and Italy in Group B.  A third, weaker group will also be contested by Iceland, Ireland, Poland and Portugal.  (From the WPS site!)

… and there it is!

I’ll be very curous to see who Pia starts against Italy.  As noted earlier, only three players (Leslie Osbourne, Hope Solo and Cat Whitehill) didn’t get into the China game.  I am really beginning to wonder what’s up with Whitehill.  If I’m not mistaken, though she was there, Cat did not start (or even play at all) in the Four Nations Tournament?  There’s been no mention of an injury – at least not that I’ve seen.  A mystery.

Check out the WNT Blog for more of the “flavor” of the team’s experience at the Algarve.  After some tought months at the end of Greg Ryan’s tenure, it’s great to see them gelling, playing like gang-busters, and having some FUN!

So on tap today at the Algarve, in addition to the US vs. Italy at 8:45, we have:

Group A:  Germany v. Finland and Denmark v. Sweden.

Group B:  US v. Italy and China v. Norway

Group C:  Portugal v. Poland and Ireland v. Iceland

TIDBITS FROM US SOCCER …

Stat of Note
Sweden took command of Group A with a 3-1 win over Finland as their star forward Hanna Ljungberg scored her 72nd career goal, passing – you guessed it – Pia Sundhage, as the all-time leading scorer for Sweden!

19 PLAYERS, ONE GOAL: There were 19 goals scored on the first match day of the Algarve Cup, and like last year (when there were 18), all were scored by different players, meaning the race for this year’s Top Scorer Award is wide open.

2008 Algarve Cup Scorers:
Player (Country)                  Goals
Merete Pederson (DEN)       1
Leena Puranen (FIN)            1
Hanna Ljungberg (SWE)      1
Nilla Fischer (SWE)               1
Therese Lundin (SWE)         1
Lindsay Tarpley (USA)          1
Tobin Heath (USA)                1
Abby Wambach (USA)          1
Carli Lloyd (USA)                   1
Elise Thorsnes (NOR)         1
Lene Storlokken (NOR)        1
Ane Horpestad (NOR)          1
Leni Kaurin (NOR)                1
Patrizia Panico (ITA)             1
Melania Gabbiadini (ITA)     1
Carla Couto (POR)               1
Sofia Viera (POR)                  1
Dora Stefansdottir (ICE)       1
Margret Vidarsdottir (ICE)    1

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