Algarve Cup Preview: USA vs. Iceland

uswnt algarve

By MC Bousquette
Staff Writer

Today, the United States’ battle for the Algarve Cup continues in a match against 20th ranked Iceland to round out the group stage.

The United States topped Switzerland 3-0 on Friday, in a match that saw goals from Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, and Abby Wambach. Today, they take on Iceland, who have lost to Norway and Switzerland; both squads the United States has beaten.

Though the United States is likely to defeat Iceland, today’s is not a match to be taken lightly. It is important to the US to win, as the points from a victory today are necessary to put the United States in the Algarve Cup championship match. No squad has let up in intensity during the Algarve Cup, and the relatively young Icelandic side will be determined not to walk away from the tournament completely defeated. The United States must enter this match with confidence, but not cockiness. Should the US win today, they will likely face France, who defeated the United States just one month ago and are a strong contender to win the Women’s World Cup.

The US has improved incrementally each match- the 2-1 victory over Norway demonstrated a drastic improvement in the United States defense and showcased the work ethic and determination of Carli Lloyd, who scored both goals. The most recent 3-0 victory over Switzerland involved a more spread out effort, with extensive chemistry between the US midfield and forwards, as well as a solidified defense.

Given the results of the last game, the lineup today will be fairly predictable. Coach Jill Ellis appears committed to the 4-4-2 formation, as last match’s outside backs, Meghan Klingenberg and Ali Krieger, were able to maintain their stamina as they played up and down the field.

The only remaining experimentation by Ellis that could possibly occur is to change around which players start at forward. Last match, Ellis started Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe at forward, moving Christen Press down to left mid. Abby Wambach came off the bench in the second half, scoring a gorgeous goal shortly thereafter. Ellis has other able starters in Sydney Leroux, returning from injury, and Amy Rodriguez, who netted a goal last game after coming on in the second half.

While the forwards will likely change, it is unclear as to whether Press will appear at left mid again. The rest of the midfield will remain the same; Morgan Brian, Lauren Holiday, and Carli Lloyd.

In the second half, look for Ellis to give some other players minutes, such as Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara, and Heather O’Reilly, to ensure they have enough game experience to gear up for a permanent substitute rotation in the World Cup. The maintained fitness of these already very experienced players as solid second-half substitutes will permit the squad to maintain stamina throughout the World Cup schedule.

At keeper, Hope Solo has shaken the rust off with ease, and is responsible for several dynamic saves thus far in the Algarve Cup. She will almost certainly start today, unless Ellis wants to take advantage of today’s game to give Ashlyn Harris more high-level experience before the World Cup.

The US team has found its groove over the course of the Algarve Cup; expect to see a sound victory over Iceland today.

The USWNT take on Iceland at 1:30pm EST today. The match will not be televised due to insufficient lighting in the stadium, but will be livetweeted on US Soccer accounts @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp.

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