(March 6, 2013)-The U.S. Women kicked off the 2013 Algarve Cup in Albufeira, Portugal with their first match against Iceland. The Americans claimed a 3-0 victory for newly minted coach Tom Sermanni as the U.S. is seeking to win their 9th Algarve Cup.
The first half was fairly unimpressive for the U.S. Women who seemed to squander the few opportunities that they created. In the final minutes the U.S. seemed to gain a little momentum as forward Alex Morgan had her best attempt in the half go just wide right. Iceland, currently ranked 15th in the world did their part in the first 45 minutes by keeping the more experienced U.S. squad at bay and only allowed six shots on goal. Defensively Iceland frustrated the midfield from making any serious attacks and kept both Morgan and fellow forward Abby Wambach scoreless.
It took a defensive player to open the scoring in the second half when Rachel Buehler scored with a beautiful header off a corner kick from Lauren Cheney in the 48th minute. Buehler was making her 100th start for the U.S. and wore the captains band throughout the match. It was the 4th career goal for the defensive back.
Shannon Boxx headed in the second goal of the match in the 62nd minute and gave the U.S. the cushion they were looking for. Wambach added to the tally with a goal in the 75th minute off an assist from Morgan who pulled the confused Icelandic goalie out of the box and allowed for the easy goal from Wambach.
Wambach is currently trying to catch the goal scoring record of fellow American Mia Hamm who retired with 158 international goals to her credit. Wambach is now only five goals shy of passing Hamm’s record.
Receiving her first start and her second cap with the team was Crystal Dunn who started at right back. The 20 year old is a highly decorated junior at the University of North Carolina and helped lead the U-20 team to a World Cup win last year in Japan. Dunn played the whole game for the U.S. and though she seemed a touch out of rhythm in the first half she did appear more comfortable as the game wore on. Dunn should continue to earn minutes under Sermanni as he looks to bring in more youth to the team.
Jill Loyden replaced an injured Hope Solo at goal who is not in Portugal with the team as she is seeking treatment on an injured right wrist. Loyden earned a shutout in her second career start for the national team.
Sermanni only made one substitution in this game with Christen Press coming on for Carli Lloyd in the 64th minute. Notable players that sat out for the whole game included Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Sydney Leroux, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger. It is expected that Sermanni will work these players into his lineup in the next match.
The U.S. Women will next square off against China PR on Friday at 9am ET.
For fans wanting to watch the games live you do have a pay-per-view option. You can log onto www.integratedsportsnet.com for more information. For those not wanting to pony up $15 and don’t mind waiting a day, FOX Soccer is also going to be showing each game with a one day tape delay. The schedule for FOX Soccer is as follows:
3/7 vs. Iceland at 9 am ET
3/8 vs. China PR at 7 pm ET
3/12 vs. Sweden at 10 am ET
3/15 Placement game at 3 pm ET
The full Algarve Cup schedule can be found at www.ussoccer.com