The USA are in Portugal this week trying to re-establish themselves as the superpower of women's football.
Until the 2003 Women's World Cup Final, when Germany and Sweden battled it out in the Final, the USA were widely acknowledged as the superpower of international women's football.
In the Algarve Cup this week, the U.S. will be looking towards a new generation of footballers to re-establish themselves at the peak of the game, and have arrived early in Faro to begin their preparations for fixtures against three Women's Euro 2005 finalists; Finland, Denmark and France.
Finland and Denmark of course are England's opening two opponents in June. Whilst both teams have been playing warm-up games in the past few months, the USA have not met since the Olympic Games in August last year.
Four players currently playing in France - Lorrie Fair, Hope Solo, Aly Wagner and Christie Welsh, flew directly into Faro at the beginning of the week to join up with their teammates.
The USA's 20-woman roster features some new faces. Four players are uncapped and one, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, has just one appearance for the USA, that coming ironically as a forward.
But despite the youthful team, only four players have never played in a FIFA World Championship (U19 Women’s World Championship, Women’s World Cup or Olympics), those being goalkeepers Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart, defender Lindsey Huie and forward Christie Welsh.
The uncapped players are a pair of 18-year-olds; Portland defender Stephanie Lopez and forward Amy Rodriguez, and two rising college players in defenders Jill Oakes of UCLA and Huie of the University of Portland.
All four have extensive youth national team experience as Lopez and Rodriguez were starters on the USA's 2004 U-19 Women's National Team that finished third at the FIFA U19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.
Just last week, Rodriguez, a high school senior was named the 2004 Girl's High School Player of the Year. Oakes was a starter on the 2002 U.S. U19 squad that won the World Championship and has played on two U21 Nordic Cup championship teams. Huie was a starter on the USA's last two U21 Nordic Cup title-winning teams.
Forward Kelly Wilson is back with the full Women's National Team after a three-year absence. Wilson starred in the 2002 U19 FIFA Women's World Championship with nine goals, finishing as the tournament's second leading scorer.
Wilson has three caps for the senior national team and all were earned at the 2002 Algarve Cup, where she also scored her first goal at the full international level, scoring against England in a 2-0 win. It was the only U.S. goal at the tournament not scored by Shannon MacMillan, who notched seven goals in four games.
With the retirement of long-time captain Julie Foudy, and Joy Fawcett, the oldest players on the U.S. roster will take over the leadership roles as Kristine Lilly (33), Shannon Boxx (27) and Kate Markgraf (28) now serve as the veterans. Lilly, the world's all-time caps leader with 291, will captain the USA during the Algarve Cup tournament, a role she has served more than a few times in her astonishing career.
Midfielder Aly Wagner has the third most career international goals of all the players on the Algarve Cup roster with 18 in 80 games. Abby Wambach is second with 45 goals in 55 games, behind team leader Kristine Lilly with 101 goals in 291 appearances.
TheFA.com will be bringing you match reports and news from the Algarve Cup all week, as well as some video highlights from England games.
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