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Thursday morning roundup: Michelle French, Algarve

Michelle French has been named the first-ever full-time coach of the United States U-20 women’s national team, US Soccer announced.

She takes over the squad after Steve Swanson led it to the 2012 U-20 World Cup title in September. Swanson is also the women’s soccer coach at the University of Virginia, so the position moving to one that is full-time is what has brought about the change.

“The opportunity to lead the best young players in the country as they continue their journey to compete at the highest level with the full National Team is an honor and something I’ve been aspiring towards for several years,” said French. “There is a passion, responsibility and honor that comes with working for U.S. Soccer, and I truly couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity.”

French has worked at various levels of the US youth system and last year coached the Seattle Sounders Women of the USL W-League. She played all three seasons of WUSA. More on French here.

ALGARVE CUP

UPDATE: Integrated Sports officially announced it will air the US women’s national team Algarve Cup on cable and satellite pay-per-view for a suggested retail price of $14.95 per game (four US games).

From earlier: The Algarve Cup will reportedly be available for viewing in the US after all. A company called Al Bann Media initially purchased the US TV rights to the Portuguese tournament but funding recently fell through and the company canceled those plans.

However, New England Soccer News reports that a different company, Integrated Sports Media, will show the games on pay-per-view. It would mark the first time the Algarve Cup is available for viewing in the US, according to New England Soccer News. No further details were provided. Eurosport recently acquired the European rights to the Algarve Cup from 2013-15, according to the Women’s Soccer United site.

The US plays Iceland on March 6, China on March 8, and Sweden to close out group play on March 11 in Portugal. They are guaranteed a final game on March 13.

Speaking of the Algarve Cup, Japan won’t be bringing star players Homare Sawa or Aya Miyama. Sawa was 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and the captain at the time, while Miyama is the current captain.

Shinobu Ohno and Kozue Ando were also left off the roster for what will be Japan’s first matches since losing the 2012 Olympic gold medal match to the US.

“I sidelined some of our experienced players this time as I want these new players to gain some experience and see how they fit into our squad,” Japan coach Norio Sasaki told FIFA.com.

Japan will play Norway on 6 March, Germany on 8 March and Denmark three days later.

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