US Downs Sweden, 4-0, for Third Place at Algarve Cup

US players after the third-place match

The US players following the match: roster players rest, reserves play

The third place match brought me back to the aptly name Beautiful View (Bela Vista) Stadium in Parchal. Originally scheduled for 10:15, I realized that it probably wasn’t going to start then when I arrived at 9:50, and the US players were just getting off their bus. The revised start time was 11 am, which gave me plenty of time to configure my wifi connection.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and the connection remained flakey throughout the match, finally conking out for good about halfway through the second half. It was particularly annoying because whenever I lost the connection, I had to log back in from scratch, a process that generally took about five minutes even when it worked the first time, which was seldom. (Apologies to my Twitter followers who have heard this rant already.)

This also means that my focus was more on keeping the wifi working than on the match, so you’re not going to see a lot of in-depth analysis here. I’ll just make a few pithy comments:

– Alex Morgan is the real deal. Just look at the highlight reel and see how she finds ways of getting the ball past the goalkeeper.

– Nicole Barnhart is a solid goalkeeper.

– The US defense can thank Barney, their lucky stars, and Swedish finishing that they didn’t give up several goals. There were two clear times and several less clear occasions when Swedish forwards got one-on-one with Barnhart, but their finishing wasn’t nearly as deadly as Morgan’s as Barney managed to parry every chance.

I’ll insert two videos here: First, an AllWhiteKit exclusive interview with Christie Rampone. (There should have been an Alex Morgan clip as well, but somehow your intrepid reporter forgot to press the big red button on his Flipcam, so none of it got recorded.)

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Second, US Soccer’s highlight reel.

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After the interview with Christie, I hopped in my car and headed back east. I had the option of swinging by the Estadio Algarve but instead continued on and had a nice afternoon hike in the hills overlooking the river that divides Spain and Portugal. (Before this trip, I didn’t even realize that was what divided the two countries.) That was possibly a mistake as Germany-Japan proved to be a real thriller, with three goals scored in the final few minutes and Germany coming out on top.

In the morning I take the train back to Lisbon and spend a few days there before flying home. Thanks to AWK proprietress Jenna Pel for providing me with a platform, to USWNT’s press officer Aaron Heifetz for his help with interviews and information, and to all my Twitter followers, new and old, for their support. See you in the stadiums!

13 thoughts on “US Downs Sweden, 4-0, for Third Place at Algarve Cup

  1. Diane

    Great partnership between AWK and you, Kevin.
    It’s rare to get a first person account of the country and the game atmosphere from someone so unreporter-like, and I mean that in a good way. Your casual style and appreciation for the surroundings gives a unique perspective.
    I thoroughly enjoyed each installment and hope you will continue to contribute for AWK.
    *Asking Rampone if Japan has their number was by far my favorite question, she was a little surprised, but handled it like a true pro.

    Reply
  2. WNTfan

    Great job! Your coverage was very good, although that Baby Horse interview would have made it perfect. I can’t believe you went all the way over there and missed the final. Really need to talk to the big guys upstairs on the executive decision making.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      It was a tough call, but it was my last day in the Algarve, and I really wanted to get up into the hills and hike around a bit, plus by the time I’d finished interviewing Christie and gotten to the stadium, the game would have been half over already. But it is ironic that I missed the most exciting match of the tournament.

      Reply
  3. john

    Well the USWNT certainly knows how to say all the right things win or lose. First, let me say a big THANKS!! to Kevin f/ his efforts. While it’s hard to analyze something USSF seemed to not want anyone to see I boldly go there anyway:
    Morgan is struggling to be consistent-smart decisions like the chips vs. poor decisions to shoot lousy angles, etc.
    Team probably should revamp the whole set piece defending-starting w/ don’t lose your mark
    Not sure what the point of the closed door scrimmage was in the sense that Pia played the starters and then a “B” team, but that is never how the players will be in a game. Why didn’t she mix the squads to approximate what happens in games. Players would gain better understanding of each other, etc.
    Lindsey not a starter, but is the answer to the biggest question of the tourney-odd? By Pia’s assessment she is a limited player.
    Have to question this team’s ability to handle pressure-the WWC qualifer semi, and this Japan game leave me w/ big concerns. I’m willing to bet US has a big game in Japan w/o the “need” to win.
    If I’m Pia I’m doing 2 things: I’m looking f/ a way to get more of my talented midfielders (they’re the US’ strongest group) on the pitch at once, especially when I need to seize the game and I’m stressing the need to match up and deny talented teams time and space. How composed are the Japanese and French under serious pressure?

    All that said this team is definitely capable of winning London and actually doing it in commanding fashion-LET IT BE SO!

    Reply
  4. Katie

    I say you need to have Morgan out there at all times so she can work her way through some things. She is too talented to not have out there and she simply makes things happen. The only way she will get better is with playing time.

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  5. john

    Did not mean to imply not playing Morgan. I was alluding to the USWNT’s need f/ her to read her best option better. Morgan has a skill set that will give her numerous chances and their is an “urgent” need f/ her to take this next step in her development.

    Reply
    1. Katie

      I think Cheney needs to be out there more with her as well as Heath. Less Boxx and Lloyd at times. I think Morgan has already made great improvements since the World Cup. It would be worth trying the 4-2-3-1 formation with her out there to give her a different perspective. Also I’d like to see her and Leroux out there together. I think the more she plays the better she will get.

      Reply
  6. maureen

    “Team probably should revamp the whole set piece defending-starting w/ don’t lose your mark.”

    Yes this.

    Reply
  7. Tasha Kai's Big Toe

    Thanks very much Kevin! Loved the commentary throughout the tournament.

    Please use your growing influence to bring the Freedom back…

    Reply
  8. VaFan

    Three thoughts:
    1. If U.S. Soccer cannot find any commercial entity to televise events such as the Algarve Cup, maybe they could at least fund internship for one or more budding sports journalists — maybe college journalism students — to do so. As we have seen (thank you, Kevin), it’s pretty amazing what a motivated person can now do with a camera, a microphone, and an Internet connection. (Maybe ESPN, the “worldwide leader in sports,” would feel threatened. We can hope.)
    2. Is Alex Morgan already the most dangerous U.S. finisher since Mia Hamm? Her effort is tremendous and her skill-set has improved dramatically over the past 2 years.
    3. Does the U.S. desperately need to get quicker in the central midfield?

    Reply
  9. goaleemama

    My daughter and I waited excitedly for every post about Algarve! Really special to be able to see it from your perspective. Thanks for every description, every video, and every opinion. Unless you’re traveling to the next tournament, I doubt we’ll see anything like that again.

    Reply
  10. joyce

    …Belatedly, thanks very much Kevin and AWK and everyones posts here with pertinent pointers !
    I, too, hope that these comments are read and taken seriously by USSF and the US TV Media sports moguls.
    And hope that Coach Pia subscribes to AWK blog, seeks reflective perspectives, and IS prospectively prepared to move USWNT to top- notch player combos AND return with our Gold medal come London.

    What an irrepressible sense of joy for fans; USWNT will be seen and heard in Japan, compliments to ESPN2! Hopefully, this will become the modus operandi for subsequent coverage of USWNT matches all the way to to London-2012.

    Kevin and AWK, looking forward to your take on USWNT’s matches/visits, ad infinitum!

    Reply

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