Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That's A Wrap


Well, another successful trip to Portugal for the U.S. WNT. Champions for the sixth time in this tournament and the Americans did it in style. For the USA, all four games were extremely entertaining and interesting . They featured some fantastic goals and a few wacky ones, but in the end four wins, 12 goals for and 1 against speaks for itself. There were a few upsets (not of the U.S. thankfully) and props to Iceland for winning all four of its games as well! The entire U.S. roster got to play and the USA took its second tournament championship under head coach Pia Sundhage. All in all, a great two weeks in Portugal for the USA, but all the players are very excited about going home (even though the bus leaves for the Lisbon airport at 4:00 a.m. Ugh). As always, the folks here in the Algarve were fantastic hosts, the country is beautiful and the entire WNT would like to thank everyone for their hospitality. Right now, all the players are at their favorite eatery getting victory crepes and ice cream. Well deserved for sure. And also a shout out to the local police, security and SWAT team guys...Never has one team felt more protected at the Algarve Cup. The players will get a week off and then it's back at it to prepare for the biggie: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in Mexico. So for now, adios.

Dane-Ja-Vu

And that's the game! The U.S. captures the Algarve Cup once again! Stay tuned for more details.

WAMBACH PUTS U.S. AHEAD 2-1!

Abby Wambach, in the 59th minute has given the U.S. the lead!

Wambach was taken down while dribbling down the right side but there was no foul. The ball rolled toward the corner and Natasha Kai tracked it down.

She served it back in for Wambach who had gotten up quickly. Abby took the ball and fired a bouncer into the left corner of the net. Twice today that the U.S. has scored on their first shot of the half.

OH NO!! DENMARK TIES IT 1-1 IN THE 31ST

Denmark has turned on the jets midway through the first half, and tied the game on a Cathrine Sorensen goal. A seemingly routine service into the box gets nodded on by Sorensen and finds the back of the net. That's the first goal allowed by the U.S. in the 2008 Algarve Cup.

NATASHA KAI GET'S IT STARTED AGAIN!!! 1-0 USA

In the 14th minute, Natasha Kai has put the U.S. up 1-0 over Denmark. Left seemingly unmarked, Kai powers home a cross from Carli Lloyd on the USA's first shot of the game!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dane-Ja Vue

The USA will face Denmark in the Algarve Cup championship for the second straight year, at the same stadium in which last year's final was played, and the U.S. team is hoping for a similar result...a victory. The final game is at a great sports complex on the edge of the Portuguese border with Spain, so the U.S. team will have at least an hour drive to get there. The players will definitely be bringing their iPods, books and magazines as one soon tires of the wonderfully scenic, yet repetitive Portuguese countryside during the drive. It should be an excellent final, matching a stingy Danish defense (zero goals allowed in the tournament) against the high-scoring U.S. attack (10 goals scored), but don't forget the USA has yet to allow a goal as well. We apologize if MatchTracker has crashed out on your while following the matches, but once again if you've been following the WNT Blog, these are technical issues that are out of our control and we hope they will soon be resolved.

Final Off Day in the Algarve

Slow news day here at the Algarve Cup. It was basically a day off for the U.S. team, and they've earned it after winning three games and scoring 10 goals to earn a place in the championship against Denmark tomorrow. About eight or nine players did go to the field for a "players practice," which meant no coaches, just an hour of doing whatever the heck they wanted to do. Some players did some running, hit some long balls, a bit of technical work and some shooting. Some players took a dip in the cold hotel swimming pool to sooth their tired legs and a few just flat out did nuthin'. The weather was once against spectacular and it was a good day to lounge around. There is an eatery called the American Diner close to the hotel and a bunch of players went to lunch there. We HIGHLY recommend the banana, strawberry and/or chocolate chip pancakes. The other day Lori Chalupny was at the American Diner and she just couldn't decide whether to get chocolate chip or banana pancakes. She was with Nicole Barnhart, who upon seeing Chalupa wracked with indecision, said: "Go for the chocolate chip banana pancakes. Do a combo." Chalulpa did. That's why Barnhart got into Stanford. Excellent problem solver.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lyons Rule


The U.S. team had some special guests at the game today, the women's soccer team from Division III Wheaton College out of Norton, Mass. Seems the ladies are in Portugal (their coach is Portuguse) for a few games during spring break as well as a bunch of sight-seeing and it happened to coincide with the U.S. game against Norway, so the lucky Lyons (yes, they spell it that way), got to take in a fantastic match, meet some of the players and get some autographs after the game. We looked at the website and it seems Wheaton was 22-1-1 last year. Wow. Well done. But we couldn't find out why they spell it Lyons instead of Lions. Anyway, thanks very much to the team for coming out to the game. It's always nice to see friendly faces when playing abroad.

Chalupny Is Sweet


Almost no one calls Lori Chalupny Lori. She is known affectionately by her nickname Chalupa (as in Don't Drop the...), or on the soccer field (because it's even shorter to say) Chupa or Chups. So that's why it was amazing to find some candy here in Portugal named, wait for it...Chupa Chups. Lori, we mean Chalupa, is holding the chocolate ones above, but the company apparently also makes fruit chews and lollipops, and probably a bunch of other stuff we haven't seen. Does anyone else see a prime opportunity for an endorsement deal here?

A-Rod's Wacky Goal


Now that was a wild second half against Norway. Yeah, the U.S. scored two really strange goals that could easily make it onto a Soccer Bloopers reel, but also pounded home two absolutely gorgeous ones. And give huge props to Natasha Kai for making a play that most wouldn't even think about trying to pull off. Most importantly, the U.S. rallied from a choppy first half to play some great soccer in the second half, creating the pressure that led to all four goals. We found out later tonight that Amy Rodriguez didn't even see her 90th minute shot go into the net. It went something like this: After she shot it, she thought the goalkeeper would just pick it up, so she turned back up the field, mad at herself for not getting a good strike on the ball. She then turned back to see it in the net and a super-surprised look came over her face. She looked at Abby Wambach, who was running to her to celebrate, and said (we are paraphrasing here), "Worst goal ever." To which Wambach replied (we are also paraphrasing here), "It doesn't matter how you score'em, only that you score more than the other team." 'Nuff said.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Update: MITTS

If you are a regular reader of ussoccer.com, you know that defender Heather Mitts came to the Algarve Cup with the U.S. team a non-rostered 21st player to get in some good training as she continues to comeback from her ACL injury last May. At this point, she reports that the knee feels really good, it's just a matter of getting her fitness back and her body back into game shape. She went into several hard tackles in the first few days of training here in Portugal (that always good for the confidence after coming back from such an injury!), but took a few days off to rest the knee. She returned to training today going full out, hit some long balls, did some shooting (hey, she's got two career goals) and, yes, ran some fitness. Heather's report on today's training: "That was tiring." Still, Mitts should be fully cleared and ready to go by the USA's next training camp starting March 21 in Los Angeles as she competes for a spot on the USA's roster for the Olympic Qualifying tournament, being held from April 2-12 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Export to Algarve

It's nothing new for American female soccer players to take advantage of duel citizenship and/or shared ancestry to play for another country. Mexico, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Greece are some of the countries that have taken advantage of FIFA rules to naturalize American players for their Women's National Teams. At the Algarve Cup, you can add two more countries. Italy's back-up goalkeeper is Anna Picarelli (listed as Anna Maria Picarelli in the tournament program), who hails from Downey, Calif., and was All-WCC at Pepperdine University during several excellent seasons for Waves. Portugal's Kim Brandao (Rahway, N.J.), who has played all 180 minutes so far the Algarve hosts, was a teammate of U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd for two years at Rutgers University. We heard rumors that Ireland wanted to steal Heather O'Reilly from us, but sorry lasses, too late. She's already played in a FIFA youth world championship, an Olympics and a Women's World Cup. (Note: We made that up about Ireland. Heather has never even been to Ireland).

Goalkeeping Ain't Easy

We all know that goalkeeper is a difficult position, but only a goalkeeper really knows what it's like to step into a drill in training and face a barrage of point-blank shots from powerful, yet remorseless forwards bent on hamming the ball into the net past, or through, the GK. Check out the short video below to see how Hope Solo deals with the repetition of one-on-one shots from inside the penalty box.

video

The Day Before Norway

If it's possible, the U.S. team had a busy and laid back day, all in the same day. This morning, the players went to the beach for about 90 minutes of team-building exercises. The consensus was that it was a highly successful outing as well as a heck of a lot of fun. While the U.S. team has been known to get a little "overzealous" even in friendly competitions, we report that there were no bumps or bruises suffered. After lunch, the team had a few hours to relax before 4 p.m. training, which was fairly light, but still a good workout. After dinner, there was the usual pre-game team meeting that featured some video, which is always fun. (Remember when you walked into your high school biology or history class and were excited to find out that you would be watching a movie that day? Same thing. Sort, of). The team is definitely excited to be playing Norway tomorrow as it is still one of the best and most heated women's rivalries in the world. While the small confines of the field in Alvor may make this contest even more combative than usual (if that's possible), count on it being and intense 90 minutes as a berth in the championship game is on the line. Remember, due to Daylight Savings in the United States, the match kicks off at 11 a.m. ET on MatchTracker.