Morgan Brian (pictured) was one of 24 players called up to the United States women's national team for the 2014 Algarve Cup. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
CHICAGO -- United States women’s national team head coach Tom Sermanni announced Monday that he will take 24 players to Portugal for next month’s Algarve Cup. The competition will be played March 5-12.
The world's top-ranked team, which has been placed in Group B for the annual tournament, will open play against Japan (March 5), before facing Sweden (March 7) and Denmark (March 10). The action concludes on March 12 with placement matches.
"The group we're in at the Algarve Cup will probably be the most significant test since I've come aboard and a different kind of challenge as we will be playing teams that have the belief and aim to come out to attack us and beat us," said Sermanni. "The dynamics of these games will be different than some of the more recent matches, and that's something that we want, that we need and that the players are looking forward to."
Group A features Germany, Norway, China PR and Iceland. Group C contains host Portugal, Austria and first-time participants Russia and Korea DPR.
This year will mark the 19th trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who have won the tournament a record nine times. Last year, the Americans defeated Germany 2-0 in the championship game as forward Alex Morgan scored twice.
Fifteen players from last year's Algarve Cup roster return, but not Morgan, who is in the final stages of her return from an ankle injury.
Sermanni has selected several young players, including Morgan Brian. The University of Virginia midfielder earned another call-up after scoring her second career goal in the USA's 8-0 victory against Russia on February 13.
"Again, we're going into a competition phase with a number of players unavailable and that's something that we've had to adjust to over this past year," said Sermanni. "But players have come in and performed extremely well and that's continued to increase the already intense competition in the squad."
UNITED STATES WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER
(Algarve Cup: March 5-12, 2014, in Portugal)
GOALKEEPERS: Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS: Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Tyresö/Sweden), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö/Sweden), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (University of Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain/France), Sarah Killion (UCLA), Carli Lloyd (Western New York Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS: Sarah Hagen (Bayern Munich/Germany), Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö/Sweden), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash)