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USWNT Faces Iceland on March 9 for Berth in Algarve Cup Final

After earning the full six points from its first two Algarve Cup matches with a 2-1 win against Norway and a 3-0 triumph over Switzerland, the U.S. Women’s National Team is well-positioned to earn a berth in the championship game with its Group B finale against Iceland remaining.

The USA-Iceland match will kick off at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday, March 9, but will not be televised due to inadequate lighting at the Municipal Stadium in Lagos, Portugal.

Should the USA advance to the championship game, it will be the program’s 14th Algarve Cup Final. The U.S. WNT most recently won the Algarve Cup in 2013, beating Germany 2-0 in the title game to earn its ninth title, the most of any country. The U.S. team trained for eight days in Portugal before the starting this tournament that features six of the world’s top-10 ranked teams, including the top five. Brazil, currently ranked eighth, is participating for the first time. In all, 11 of the 12 participating countries are ranked in the top-20 in the world.

As there are three teams in groups B and C that could end up winning the group with six points, and two in Group A (along with Brazil, that could finish with seven), the scenarios of who could make the championship game under this new Algarve Cup format are vast and varied. But this much we know…

With only two teams – the USA and France – on six points after the first two match days, those two countries are in the driver’s seat for berths to the final. With wins, both teams will qualify for the championship game.
Should the USA draw with Iceland and finish on seven points, it would still win the group, but then would have to beat out at least one of the other group winners to earn a spot in the title game, with the first tiebreaker being goal differential and the second being goals scored. The USA is currently at plus-4, Brazil is at plus-2 and France is at plus-4, but much could change in the final round of matches as far as goal differential and goals scored.
If the USA falls to Iceland, there would still be a chance to win the group with six points, and even advance to the championship game, but it would have to rely on the correct confluence of results and scores in Group B and the other groups.

View all the Algarve Cup 2015 group standings.

Group A Update: Germany rebounded from a 4-2 loss to Sweden on the first match day to defeat China PR 2-0 on goals from Anja Mittag and Alexandra Popp. Germany did suffer an injury blow, losing talented central defender Luisa Wensing to a broken leg. Sweden fell to Brazil 2-0 on a long-distance free kick from Marta and a penalty kick by Andressa, but still has a chance to win the group with its finale coming against China. Germany and Brazil meet in one of the marquee matches on the final match day with both likely needing a win to take first in the group. Brazil also suffered an apparent serious injury when forward Debinha went down in the 15th minute and needed to be replaced.

Group B Update: The USA moved into first place with a convincing 3-0 win against Switzerland, with all three goals coming in the second half. Alex Morgan finished a deftly played free kick from Lauren Holiday with a close-range volley, Amy Rodriguez pulled off some fancy footwork in front of the net to make it 2-0 and substitute Abby Wambach added a third on a long-range chip over the goalkeeper after running onto an errant back pass. In the other Group B match, Norway used a ninth-minute goal from Emilie Havvi to defeat Iceland 1-0. The results mean the USA needs just a tie against Iceland to win the group, but a win will ensure the U.S. a berth in the championship game as France is the only other team with six points after the first two match days and thus the only team that accrue the full nine points after three games.

Group C Update: France walloped Denmark with four goals in the first half from four different players – Eugenie Le Sommer, Camille Abily, Kenzi Dali and Claire Lavogez – and was up 3-0 inside of 14 minutes on the way to an eventual 4-1 victory. Japan rebounded from its 2-1 loss to Denmark to defeat host Portugal 3-0 on goals from Yuri Kawamura, Kumi Yokoyama and Yuika Sugasawa. That sets up a France-Japan clash on the final day of group play while Denmark is also still in the running for the group title with its one match remaining against Portugal. France needs just a tie to win the group, but like the USA, can clinch a berth for the title game with a win.

Take a look at all the 2015 Algarve Cup fixtures and results.

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