USWNT searching for 10th Algarve Cup win
By LACEY DAVIS
College Contributor Network
In the U.S. Women's 20th appearance at the Algarve Cup held in Portugal, the team is striving for their 10th tournament victory. The USWNT has been improving steadily recently with players such as forward Alex Morgan coming off of injuries, goalkeeper Hope Solo returning from suspension and head coach Jill Ellis fine-tuning her lineup before the fast-approaching World Cup in June.
The U.S. team played their first game on Monday, pulling out a hard-fought victory against Norway. The first half revealed a few obstacles that the team is still working to overcome.
Solo, as could be expected, looked slightly off her game in her first appearance in over a month. Although she has been working with her personal trainer in Seattle during her suspension, the initial transition back into competitive play can be tough to adjust to. The only goal for Norway came from a header off of Ada Hegerberg that Solo was able to get a hand on, but not stop, hardly a goal that Solo could be faulted for.
There were a few other instances where Solo was unable to make plays where she typically would be able, none of them resulting in goals. As the game progressed, her rustiness began to wear off. In the second half, Solo was able to make a couple crucial plays that ultimately kept Norway's score at one, keeping the U.S. in the game and giving her team a chance to win.
Midfield again wasn't playing its best game in the first half. With Christen Press and Carli Lloyd at the top of the midfield, they're two tactically strong players who are deadly when they are able to string a play together, evident with a few strong shots and ultimately the United States' first goal, which came in the second half.
Press assisted Lloyd's strong shot from the top of Norway's box, tying the game at one. Although the score made the game appear even at first glance, the United States controlled the ball the majority of the time, but struggled with finishing plays near the goal.
The second goal was another Press-Lloyd combination, though less conventional. Press took a shot inside the box that was deflected off Norway defender Trine Ronning's arm, resulting in a penalty kick. Lloyd took the shot, scoring with Norway goalkeeper Silje Vesterbekkmo diving the opposite direction.
Not only are the US women trying to win the title for their tenth time, but now they will be able to have American fans watching live from home. For the first time in Algarve Cup history, it will be broadcast in the United States on ad-supported basic cable television. Previously, the tournament could only be seen on delay or pay-per-view.
The USWNT Group B matches will be shown on Fox Sports 1, along with their placement game on March 11. The United State's Group match on March 9 against Norway will not be broadcast due to insufficient lighting in the stadium. Fans can follow the action live on Twitter: @ussoccer_wnt.
Lacey Davis is a senior at the University of Georgia. She is a passionate fan of the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @laceyanne_davis