The windswept pitch at the Estadio Algarve in Faro, Portugal may have been worse for the wear after steady rain and three previous Algarve Cup matches but the sun came out to shine as the US women’s national team took to the field at the start of their 3-2 victory over Germany to win their seventh title in the history of the tournament.
The three Philadelphia Independence players on the US squad all featured in the final with Heather Mitts at the back for the full 90 minutes and Lori Lindsey replacing Amy Rodriguez in the 59th minute.
Delran, New Jersey’s Carli Lloyd, who plays for Sky Blue FC in the WPS, scored the first US goal in the 18th minute against a German side that had outscored their opponents 16-0 in group play. Amy Wambaugh of the Washington Freedom’s scored the second US goal and her third of the tournament in the 22rd minute with an assist from Lloyd’s club teamate and fellow New Jersey native Heather O’Reilly.
A yellow card to Mitts in the 41st minute was quickly followed by a goal by Germany’s Inka Grings, her sixth goal of the tournament. Muddy conditions and some fine saves by the German keeper Nadine Angerer prevented the US from increasing their lead before the conclusion of the half.
With a light rain returning soon after the resumption of play to further contribute to the deteriorating conditions, both sides began resorting to the long ball. A goal by Lauren Cheney in the 69th minute, her fourth of the tournament, made it 3-1 in the 70th minute after Angerer mishandled the ball. Germany pulled a goal back in the 74th minute thanks to the seventh goal of the tournament by Grings.
Stalwart defensive play by Amy LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler helped to fend off the Germans in the final 15 minutes of the match. Despite some tense moments, including a near own goal by LePeilbet in the 92nd minute, the US managed to prevent the Germans from finding the net, avoiding a replay of the 2006 final, which was lost to Germany on penalty kicks.
The Sweden team, captained by Philadelphia Independence midfielder Caroline Seger and including Sara Larsson, also of the Independence, beat China 2-0 earlier in the day to place third in the tournament.
On the ninth place Iceland team from the Independence was Holmfridur Magnusdottir.
Independence players also participated at the Cyprus Women’s Cup, including England’s Lianne Sanderson and Fara Williams, and Canada’s Karina LeBlanc. LeBlanc, the goalkeeper formerly with the Los Angeles Sol, allowed only two goals during the tournament and kept a clean sheet to help Canada defeat New Zealand 1-0 in the Cyprus Women’s Cup final, which was also held on Wednesday.
Jill Loyden, a native of Vineland, New Jersey and former Villanova goalkeeper who plays for the Chicago Red Stars, was a part of the US squad in the Algarve Cup but did not see any playing time.
All of these players are now on their way back to the US to begin pre-season training with their club teams. The Us team next faces Mexico in two friendlies on March 28 and March 31.