(March 11, 2014)-The U.S. Women’s national team came to Portugal seeking to win a record 10th Algarve Cup. They will leave Portugal after suffering their worst loss in national team history and with much work to be done if they hope to win the Women’s World Cup next summer in Canada.
Already knocked out of the championship game after a draw to Japan and a loss to Sweden, the U.S. Women now are simply contending for 7th place after suffering a 5-3 loss to Denmark. It is unfamiliar territory for a team that is ranked number one in the world and hasn’t lost two games in a row since 2001.
Instead it was Denmark that jumped to an early lead and withstood a second half comeback by the Americans. Denmark scored three goals in the first half and it wasn’t until the 51st minute that the U.S. finally was able to break through when Christen Press put their first goal on the board. Denmark quickly answered with another goal of their own but Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe added a goal a piece to bring the U.S. within one as the team approached injury time. However Karoline Nielsen sealed the game for Denmark by adding their fifth goal in stoppage time.
Coach Tom Sermanni spoke with U.S. Soccer after the game about the tournament.
“It’s been a strange tournament, but that’s a great lesson because that’s how tournament football is sometimes. Things can turn very quickly in your favor or turn against you. If you look analytically at the three games we’ve played, Japan barley had a chance against us and scored on a free kick. We dominated that game and had many chances to score. Similar story with Sweden, who didn’t actually have many shots at goal all game, and again we dominated (possession) and created chances and didn’t score. Today was different, our first half performance was poor, but we got ourselves into the game in the second half, we just never finished it off to get (a positive result.)”
This has been the first real test that Sermanni has faced since taking over the team a little over a year ago. He has spent the past year juggling a lineup of seasoned veterans as well as trying to mix in the new generation of players that are the future of the team.
Megan Rapinoe also spoke with U.S. Soccer and tried to keep this tournament in perspective as the team moves forward.
“We’re seven months away from qualifiers and even longer from the World Cup, and for the most part, everyone is fit and healthy going into the NWSL season. Of course, we want to have to better results, but it’s not time to get to down on ourselves or be panicked. No one wins every game in football and these last two games we played excellent teams and just didn’t get it done.”
The U.S. will wrap up their tournament play with their match against Korea DPR on March 12th.