The USA will close out play at the Algarve Cup Wednesday when it faces North Korea -- for seventh place. Algarve Cup, U.S. Finishes 1st:
In 18 previous
trips to Portugal, only once have the Americans finished as low as sixth place in 2001 when they left their WUSA players at home and brought a "B" team. Never before has the USA gone winless in group
play at the Algarve Cup, but that's what happened after a 1-1 tie with Japan, 1-0 loss to Sweden and 5-3 loss to Denmark.
If the USA had the better of the play in the first two games,
Coach Tom Sermanni
admitted the USA was punished for some very poor play against a good Danish team.
“I think we started the game very
sluggishly, that’s what went wrong," he said of the match that the USA trailed, 3-0, at the half. "We were too slow and too predictable and we allowed Denmark to dictate how the game was going
to be played. I thought tactically they defended very well, and we really never posed them any problems because we didn’t vary how we played at all. We didn’t threaten in behind them and
then they were pretty devastating on the break. To be honest, in transition, we were equally slow and sluggish and we got punished for that and they had some excellent finishes.”
Sermanni said the first two games were better.
“It’s been a strange tournament," he said, "but that’s a great lesson because that’s how tournament football is
sometimes. Things can turn very quickly in your favor or turn against you. If you look analytically at the three games we’ve played, Japan barely had a chance against us and scored on a free
kick. We dominated that game and had many chances to score. Similar story with Sweden, who didn’t actually have many shots at goal all game, and again we dominated and created chances and
didn’t score. Today was different, our first-half performance was poor, but we got ourselves into the game in the second half, we just never finished it off to get [a positive result].”
Wednesday's game will mean everything to North Korea, winner of Group C, as
it's ineligible for the 2015 Women's World Cup after five players failed a drug test, testing positive for steroids from traditional musk deer gland, at the 2011 finals.
USA had played
North Korea at the last four Women's World Cups and at the 2012 Olympics. The only time it didn't win was in 2007 when they played to a 2-2 tie at the opening game of the Women’s World Cup. Algarve Cup, Placement Matches: Germany vs. Japan
Championship Iceland vs. Sweden
3rd Place China vs. Denmark
5th Place USA vs. North Korea
Norway vs. Russia
9th Place Austria vs. Portugal