[ALGARVE CUP]The USA, featuring one of its youngest rosters ever, opens play against Iceland at the Algarve Cup in Portugal on Wednesday. The Americans have reached the final of the world’s top women’s invitational tournament the last seven years and won five times. The other two times they lost on penalty kicks in the final.
The USA-Iceland game will be played in Vila Real de San Antonio, on the Spanish border near the ocean, at one of eight venues for the tournament.
In the absence of Christie Rampone (who is due to have her second child very soon) andLori Chalupny (dealing with concussion-related injuries), midfielder Shannon Boxx will captain the USA against Iceland.
There are two uncapped players on the roster in goalkeeper Jill Loyden and defender Megan Schnur. Loyden, who was brought along for training purposes, is not likely to get a match, but the Algarve Cup could mark the debut for Schnur.
Midfielders Lori Lindsey and Casey Nogueira have one appearance each at the senior team level, while midfielder Yael Averbuch has just three caps.
Megan Rapinoe, who has just 11 caps, scored a big goal for the USA at least year’s Algarve Cup in a 1-0 win over Norway.
Seven of the eight WPS teams are represented on the U.S. roster (excluding only the Atlanta Beat). The 2009 champion Sky Blue FC lead the way with four players. The Philadelphia Independence has three, as do the Boston Breakers and the Chicago Red Stars. The Washington Freedom, St. Louis Athletica and FC Gold Pride have two each.
The USA has nine wins and a tie in 10 games against Iceland, which started its 2011 World Cup qualifying campaign last August with three wins (5-0 over Serbia, 12-0 over Estonia and 1-0 over Northern Ireland) and one loss (2-0 to France).
Iceland also features a future WPS player in new Philadelphia Independence signing Holmfridur Magnusdottir as well as players based in Sweden and Germany.
GOALKEEPERS: 18-Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), 24-Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), 1-Hope Solo (St. Louis Athletica)
DEFENDERS: 26-Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), 14-Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), 6-Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), 2-Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), 17-Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC), 4-Cat Whitehill (Washington Freedom)
MIDFIELDERS:12-Yael Averbuch (Sky Blue FC), 7-Shannon Boxx (St. Louis Athletica), 5-Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), 13-Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars)
FORWARDS:11-Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), 15-Casey Nogueira (Chicago Red Stars), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), 20-Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
GOALKEEPERS: 1-Thora Helgadottir (Malmoe, SWE), 12-Gudbjorg Gunnarsdottir (Djurgarden, SWE)
DEFENDERS: 2-Sif Atladottir (FC Saarbruecken, GER), 3-olína Gudbjörg Vidarsdottir (KIF Orebro, SWE), 8-Katrin Jonsdottir (Valur), 19-Mist Edvardsdottir (KR), 29-Thelma Björk Einarsdottir (Valur)
MIDFIELDERS:4-Rakel Honnudottir (Thor), 5-Erna Björk Sigurdardottir (Breidablik), 6-Holmfridur Magnusdottir (Philadelphia Independence, USA), 7-Katrin omarsdottir (KR), 10-Dora Maria Larusdottir (Valur), 11-Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (Breidablik), 13-Gudny Bjork Odinsdottir (Kristianstads, SWE), 14-Rakel Logadottir (Valur), 18-Elinborg Ingvarsdottir (Grindavík), 17-Dagny Brynjarsdottir (Valur)
FORWARDS:9-Margret Lara Vidarsdottir (Kristianstads, SWE), 15-Fanndis Fridriksdottir (Breidablik), 16-Berglind Bjorg Thorvaldsdottir (Breidablik)