CHICAGO - Six Tar Heel women's soccer players, current and former, have been named by U.S. Women's National Team head coach Tom Sermanni for the team that will travel to the 2013 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
Tar Heels named to the team include goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris ('09), defenders Crystal Dunn (current junior) and Whitney Engen ('09) and midfielders Yael Averbuch ('08), Tobin Heath ('09) and Heather O'Reilly ('06).
This year's tournament is being staged a week later than in recent years, from March 6-13, and the U.S. team will depart for Europe on February 25. The majority of the games will be played at small venues across the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country, with several matches at the 30,000-seat Algarve Stadium. The placement matches will take place on March 13.
For the first time, fans in the United States will be able to watch the Algarve Cup matches live on television. All four U.S. matches of the Algarve Cup are being distributed in the USA by Integrated Sports Media for live viewing on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, Avail-TVN, DIRECTV and DISH for a suggested retail price of $14.95 per match. Additional same day replays will be available. Check with your Pay-Per-View provider for replay times. Fans can visit Integratedsportsnet.com for updates on the TV coverage.
The matches will also be available to follow online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and highlights will be available on ussoccer.com. For the entire tournament schedule, please go to the Algarve Cup tournament page on ussoccer.com.
The U.S. team, which has been placed into Group B at the annual tournament, will open play on March 6 against Iceland (9 a.m. ET) in Albufeira. The USA will face China on March 8, again in Albufeira (9 a.m. ET), and will finish the first round on March 11 against Sweden in Lagos (10 a.m. ET) in what will be the first meeting between the teams since former U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage returned home to coach her native country. Group A features Germany, Norway, Japan and Denmark. Group C features host Portugal, Hungary, Wales and Mexico.
Since the expansion to 12 teams in 2002, the Algarve Cup format has been as follows: The winners of Groups A and B will compete for the Algarve Cup championship. The two second-place finishers in Groups A and B will play for third place while the third-place finishers in each group will play for fifth. The Group C teams will be competing for a chance to play for spots 7-12 as the winner of Group C will play the best fourth place team from Groups A or B for seventh place. The second place team in Group C will play the worst fourth place team from Groups A or B for ninth place, and the third and fourth place finishers in Group C will play each other for 11th place.
This will be the 18th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. Women, who have won the tournament eight times, including three straight championships from 2003-05 at what has become one of the world's most competitive international women's events. Last year, the USA lost 1-0 to Japan in group play - which turned out to be the USA's only loss of the year - and were forced to the third-place match where the Americans rolled past Sweden 4-0 on Alex Morgan's first career hat trick.
Sixteen players from last year's Algarve Cup roster return, including the core of the U.S. team, many of whom have played in numerous Algarve Cup tournaments. Goalkeeper Hope Solo will not be one of them, however, as the USA's first-choice 'keeper has a long-standing wrist injury that has flared up recently and may require surgery. Solo has damage to ligaments in her right wrist, and although she was playing with the injury, with Women's World Cup qualifying not until the end of 2014, the team medical staff advised that now would be the time to address the situation.
With Solo out, veteran Nicole Barnhart, Jill Loyden and the uncapped Ashlyn Harris will compete for the starting spot.
With one exception, all the players Sermanni is bringing to Portugal were in the U.S. camp for the matches against Scotland in Florida and Tennessee.
- Heather O'Reilly will be playing in her 11 th Algarve Cup.
- Crystal Dunn, the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner for the University of North Carolina, earned her first senior team cap against Scotland on Feb. 13.
- Also making the roster was defender Whitney Engen, who made her full national team debut at last year's Algarve Cup, and midfielder Yael Averbuch, who earned her 17th cap against Scotland on Feb. 9. Averbuch played in all three group matches at the 2010 Algarve Cup.
U.S. Women's National Team Training Camp Roster by Position GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Ashlyn Harris (Duisburg), Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Whitney Engen (Liverpool FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Yael Averbuch (Göteborg FC), Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-German), Carli Lloyd (Western NY Flash), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Olympique Lyonnais)FORWARDS (5): Lindsey Horan (Paris Saint-German), Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Tyresö FF), Abby Wambach (Western NY Flash)