Six members of the 2013 Boston Breakers squad will represent three countries beginning Wednesday, four taking part in the Algarve Cup in Portugal and two on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus for the fifth annual Cyprus Cup.
At 9 a.m. ET, midfielder Heather O’Reilly and forward Sydney Leroux take the field for the U.S. Women’s National Team in their first match of the Algarve Cup. The 2012 Olympic gold medalists and No. 1 team in the world faces Iceland, which reached its highest-ever FIFA World Ranking (No. 15) in December 2012. Although Iceland has yet to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup on the senior level, it is a much-improved side over the last few years. It is one of only 12 teams remaining in the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship (EURO).
The U.S. and Iceland are certainly no strangers, especially in the Algarve Cup. They met in the finals of the 2011 Cup, with the U.S. winning 4-2. It was a match that Iceland led, 2-1, at halftime. The two teams have played each other three times in the Algarve Cup. In addition to the 2011 final, the U.S. beat Iceland 2-0 in 2010 and 1-0 in 2009. Wednesday’s game takes place at Municipal Stadium in Albufeira, Portugal. The U.S. is in Group B and will also compete against China (Friday, March 8, at 9 a.m. ET) and Sweden (Monday, March 11, at 10 a.m. ET) in the group stage.
Also in Portugal and representing the Breakers are keeper Cecilia Santiago and forward Anisa Guajardo, both playing for Mexico. This is Mexico’s third time at the Algarve Cup. Currently ranked No. 24 in the world, Mexico finished eighth at the 2006 Algarve Cup and ninth the previous year. Mexico is in Group C this year, along with Wales, Hungary, and the host nation Portugal. Mexico opens the tournament against the No. 37 ranked team in the world, Hungary, Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. Hungary hasn’t played since Sept. 19, 2012, when it beat Bulgaria, 9-0, in the final game of European qualifying. Mexico last played Dec. 19 in a friendly against Portugal, and won, 2-0.
After playing Hungary, Mexico faces Wales (Friday, March 8, at 1 p.m. ET) and concludes group play Monday, March 11, against Portugal At Algarve Stadium. The match is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Canada, the No. 7 ranked team in the world, is amongst 12 teams competing in the 2013 Cyprus Cup, and this year’s team features two Breakers - defender Rhian Wilkinson and forward Adriana Leon, who recently earned her first cap for Canada. This will be her first time at the Cyprus Cup. Wilkinson is one of six members of the Canadian 2012 Olympic bronze medal team that will suit up for Canada at this year’s Cyprus Cup. Canada opens the 2013 Cyprus Cup against Switzerland, Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. ET at GSZ Stadium in Larnaca, Cyprus. The Canadians then play Friday, March 8, against Finland, and finish the group stage on Monday, March 11, against the Netherlands.
Canada has had a great deal of success at the Cyprus Cup. In fact, they’ve won the most titles in the five-year history of the tournament. Canada won the Cyprus Cup in 2008, 2010, and 2011 and finished as silver medalists a year ago, losing 2-0 to France in the finals. The Canadians also finished as runners-up in 2009.