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Algarve Cup

2015 Algarve Cup preview: Prelude to the World Cup

An annual friendly tournament with no major implications could become monotonous, but the Algarve Cup has carved out a special place in women’s soccer.

The tournament, hosted each year in the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, is the most important world women’s soccer tournament behind the World Cup and the Olympics. That’s a distant third, granted, but for two out of every four years that makes it the best place to see the world’s elite teams play each other; the simultaneous Cyprus Cup is the secondary version of the Algarve Cup.

In a World Cup year such as this, the Algarve Cup is the single most important preparation for the tournament that really counts, serving as a miniature World Cup just three months before the big show.

Algarve Cup 2015 is the most loaded field yet with the addition of Brazil and the return of France, in addition to regulars Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Coach Jill Ellis’ United States team comes under the microscope once again in the best remaining preparation for the World Cup. Hope Solo is back from her 30-day suspension, but lingering questions – the most mainstream of them involving her status – remain for the U.S. women.

The midfield is the biggest question for Ellis, whose roster depth is proving to be both a blessing and a curse as she tests certain roles, however unorthodox (see: Carli Lloyd playing on the flank).

Anything short of winning Group A – which features Norway, Switzerland and Iceland – will be cause to ring the alarm louder on the United States. The U.S. women need the Algarve Cup to keep confidence on the upswing – U.S. demons of a year ago still linger in Portugal – following an unspectacular win over England and it needs to finish first in the group to get one last strong test against one of the world’s best teams in the crossover placement matches.

Ellis’ management of the roster from game-to-game could foreshadow her plans for the World Cup, which will see similarly quick turnarounds for matches. The World Cup will also be on artificial turf, which is expected to beat up on players even more. The U.S. women are particularly conscious of this, with the potential for nine World Cup players over the age of 30.

Norway is a respectable dark horse (still quite a downgrade from its heyday of decades past) and Switzerland is decent, but the Swiss just dropped a pair of results to Portugal. Even in their current more unsettled state, the U.S. women should get through the group stage of the Algarve Cup with three wins. Anything else won’t cut it.

GROUPS

GROUP A: Brazil, China PR, Germany, Sweden

GROUP B: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, United States

GROUP C: Denmark, France, Japan, Portugal

FORMAT

Since this Algarve Cup is stronger than previous ones, the format has changed. All 12 teams are eligible to make the tournament final for the first time. The final will be contested by the two group winners with the most points. If two teams from different groups are tied on points, the tiebreakers are: 1) goal differential, 2) goals scored, 3) best Fair Play ranking from the group matches and 4) best FIFA ranking. Tiebreakers between teams WITHIN THE SAME GROUP are 1) head-to-head result, 2) goal differential, 3) goals scored, 4) best Fair Play ranking from the group matches and 5) best FIFA ranking.

The third-place match will feature the third-best group winner against the best second-place team from the three groups. In addition, the fifth-place match will be played between the two remaining second-place teams; the seventh-place match between the two best third-place teams; the ninth-place match between the remaining third-place team against the best fourth-place team; while the 11th-place match will feature the remaining two teams that finished fourth in their groups.

ROSTERS

BRAZIL

GK — Luciana, Andreia Suntaque, Leticia Izidoro

DEF — Bruna Benites, Monica, Tayla, Erika, Fabiana, Poliana

MF — Formiga, Thaisa, Andressinha, Rosana, Andressa Alves, Gabi Zanotti, Marta, Maurine, Rachel

FW — Bia, Debinha, Darlene

CHINA

(sorted by club)

Jiangsu: Yang Li, Wang Lisi, XU Yan Lu, Ma Jun
Tianjin: Wang Shanshan, Han Peng, Li Dongna
Shanghai: Lijia Yue, Tang Jiali, Zhao Lina
Beijing: Zhang Yue, Gu Yasha, Cho Yong
Dalian: Pang Feng, Song end, Wang Fei
Guangdong: Tanru Yan, Gao Qi
Changchun: Ren Gui Xin, Wang Shi dim
Henan: Lei Jiahui
Shandong: Li Ying
Hebei: Liu Shanshan
Wuhan: Wang Shuang
PLO: Rui
Korea Sport Toto: Wu Haiyan

DENMARK

GK — Cecilie Breil Kramer (Brøndby IF), Katrine Louise Abel (Brøndby IF)

DEF — Cecilie Sandvej (SC Sand), Stina Lykke Petersen (1. FC Köln), Janni Arnth Jensen (Linköpings FC), Luna Nørgaard Gevitz (Fortuna Hjørring), Nina Frausing Pedersen (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Theresa Nielsen (Brøndby IF)

MF — Pernille Harder (Linköpings FC), Julie Tavlo Petersson (Brøndby IF), Sofie Junge Pedersen (Fortuna Hjørring), Caroline Rask (Fortuna Hjørring), Mie Leth Jans (Brøndby IF), Sif Rykær (IK Skovbakken), Simone Boye Sørensen (Brøndby IF), Tenna Kappel Bendtsen (OB), Frederikke Skjødt Thøgersen (Fortuna Hjørring)

FW — Sanne Troelsgaard (KoldingQ), Camilla Kur Larsen (Fortuna Hjørring), Johanna Rasmussen (Kristianstads DFF), Katrine Veje (Brøndby IF), Lotte Troelsgaard (KoldingQ)

FRANCE

GK — Sarah Bouhaddi, Meline Gerard, Emmeline, Mainguy

DEF — Laure Boulleau, Anaig Butel, Sabrina Delannoy, Jessica Houara, Amel Majri, Griedge Mbock Bathy, Wendy Renard

MF — Camille Abily, Elise Bussaglia, Kenza Dali, Kheira Hamraoui, Amandine Henry, Aurelie Kaci, Claire Lavogez, Elodie Thomis, Sandie Toletti

FW — Marie-Laure Delie, Kadidiatou Diani, Eugenie Le Sommer, Gaetane Thiney

GERMANY

GK — Nadine Angerer (Portland Thorns FC), Laura Benkarth (SC Freiburg), Almuth Schult (VfL Wolfsburg)

DEF — Jennifer Cramer (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Kathrin Hendrich (1. FFC Frankfurt), Margarita Gidion (SGS Essen), Annike Krahn (Paris Saint-Germain), Leonie Maier (Bayern München), Babett Peter (VfL Wolfsburg), Bianca Schmidt (1. FFC Frankfurt), Luisa Wensing (VfL Wolfsburg)

MF — Fatmire Alushi (Paris Saint-Germain), Melanie Behringer (Bayern München), Sara Däbritz (SC Freiburg), Verena Faißt (VfL Wolfsburg), Lena Goeßling (VfL Wolfsburg), Simone Laudehr (1. FFC Frankfurt), Melanie Leupolz (Bayern München), Dzsenifer Marozsán (1. FFC Frankfurt)

FW — Pauline Bremer (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Anja Mittag (FC Rosengard), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), Celia Šašić (1. FFC Frankfurt)

JAPAN

GK — FUKUMOTO Miho (Okayama Yunogo Belle), KAIHORI Ayumi (INAC Kobe), YAMANE Erina (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies)

DEF — KINGA Yukari (INAC Kobe), KAMIONOBE Megumi (Albirex Niigata Ladies), IWASHIMIZU Azusa (Nippon TV Beleza), SAMESHIMA Aya (INAC Kobe), ARIYOSHI Saori (Nippon TV Beleza), KAWAMURA Yuri (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), OSAFUNE Kana (Urawa Reds Ladies), KUMAGAI Saki (Olympique Lyonnais/France)

MF –ANDO Kozue (FFC Frankfurt/Germany), MIYAMA Aya (Okayama Yunogo Belle), KAWASUMI Nahomi (INAC Kobe), SAKAGUCHI Mizuho (Nippon TV Beleza), TANAKA Asuna (INAC Kobe), UTSUGI Rumi (Montpellier Herault Sport Club/France), NAGASATO Asano (Turbine Potsdam/Germany)

FW — OHNO Shinobu (INAC Kobe), OGIMI Yuki (VFL Wolfsburg), SUGASAWA Yuika (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies), TAKASE Megumi (INAC Kobe)

ICELAND

GK — Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir, Sandra Sigurðardóttir, Sonný Lára Þráinsdóttir

DEF — Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir, Elísa Viðarsdóttir, Anna Björk Kristjánsdóttir, Anna María Baldursdóttir, Arna Sif Ásgrímsdóttir, Lára Kristín Pederse

MF — Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir, Rakel Hönnudóttit, Katrín Ómarsdóttir, Hallbera Guðný Gísladótir, Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, Guðný Björk Óðinsdóttir, Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir, Ásgerður S. Baldursdóttir

FW – Margrét Lára Viðarsdóttir, Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir, Fanndís Friðriksdóttir, Harpa Þorsteinsdóttir, Elín Metta Jensen, Guðmunda Brynja Óladóttir

NORWAY

GK — Ingrid Hjelmseth – Stabæk, Silje Vesterbekkmo – Røa, Nora Neset Gjøen – LSK Kvinner, Cecilie Fiskerstrand – Stabæk

DEF — Hedda Strand Gardsjord – Røa, Marita Skammelsrud Lund – LSK Kvinner, Trine Rønning – Stabæk

MF — Lene Mykjåland – LSK Kvinner, Ingrid Moe Wold – LSK Kvinner, Gry Tofte Ims – Klepp, Ida Elise Enget – Stabæk, Solveig Gulbrandsen – Stabæk, Cathrine Dekkerhus – Stabæk, Caroline Graham Hansen – Wolfsburg, Kristine Minde – Linköping

FW — Emilie Bosshard Haavi – LSK Kvinner, Isabell Herlovsen – LSK Kvinner, Inger Ane Hole – Trondheims-Ørn, Melissa Bjånesøy – Stabæk, Maren Mjelde – Avaldsnes, Elise Thorsnes – Avaldsnes, Ada Stolsmo Hegerberg – Olympique Lyonnais, Marie Dølvik Markussen – Stabæk

Sweden

GK — Hilda Carlen – Piteå IF, Hedvig Lindahl – Chelsea Ladies FC, Carola Söberg – KIF Örebro DFF

DEF — Emma Berglund – FC Rosengård, Nilla Fischer – VfL Wolfsburg, Lina Nilsson – FC Rosengård, Charlotte Rohlin – Linköpings FC, Jessica Samuelsson – Linköpings FC, Linda Sembrant – Montpellier Herault SC, Sara Thunebro – Eskilstuna United DFF

MF — Elin Rubensson – Kopparberg / Göteborg FC, Kosovare Asllani – Paris Saint-Germain FC, Lisa Dahlkvist – KIF Örebro DFF, Malin Diaz Pettersson – Eskilstuna United DFF, Hanna Folkesson – KIF Örebro DFF, Antonia Göransson – Vittsjo GIK, Olivia Schough – Eskilstuna United DFF, Caroline Seger – Paris Saint-Germain FC, Therese Sjögran – FC Rosengård

FW — Jenny Hjohlman – Umeå IK FF, Sofia Jakobsson – Montpellier Herault SC, Fridolina Rolfö – Linköpings FC, Lotta Schelin – Olympique Lyonnais

UNITED STATES

GK — Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)

DEF — Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)

MF — Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)

FW — Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)

*Rosters for Portugal and Switzerland unavailable

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