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Algarve Cup

US to play Japan, Sweden, Denmark at Algarve Cup

U.S. coach Tom Sermanni has will put his team to the test against a strong group of Japan, Sweden and Denmark at the Algarve Cup. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

The United States will face Japan, Sweden and Denmark in the group stages of the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal this March.

Tom Sermanni’s side will open the tournament against Japan on March 5, followed by another meeting with Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage two days later. Denmark will be the USA’s final opponent on March 10 before the placement matches on March 12.

Last March the United States won the Algarve Cup for the ninth time in 18 tries, beating Germany 2-0 in the final. The Americans have appeared in 14 finals at the annual tournament, considered the most prestigious yearly gathering of teams outside of the World Cup, Olympics and European Championships.

Sweden and the U.S. tied 1-1 in the group stage at the 2013 edition in the first meeting between the two sides since Sundhage left the U.S. to manage her native Sweden. Japan and the U.S. haven’t played since Carli Lloyd struck twice in the 2012 Olympic final to avenge a 2011 World Cup final loss. The two teams met earlier that year in the Algarve Cup group stage, with Japan winning 1-0 on a late Aya Miyama goal. Norio Sasaki brought a very young squad to the 2013 Algarve Cup in order to gain them experience.

Denmark is fresh off a semifinal appearance at EURO 2013.

Group A consists of Iceland, China, Norway and Germany, while Group C remains unchanged from 2013, with hosts Portugal joining Austria, Russia and Northern Ireland.

The U.S. will open 2014 on Jan. 31 against Canada in Frisco, Texas.

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