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Sundhage announces Algarve Cup roster

CHICAGO -- Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Angela Hucles and Shannon Boxx top the 20-player U.S. women's roster for the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, a year after helping the Americans win the tournament for the fifth time.

Last year in the final, Lloyd and Kristine Lilly scored goals in the Americans' 2-0 victory over Denmark. Lloyd was selected the tournament MVP.

U.S. coach Pia Sundhage announced the roster Wednesday following a 17-day training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

The U.S. team will open Group B play against China on March 5, face Norway on March 7 and finish the first round against Italy on March 10. The USA will play its first two matches in Faro at the Estadio Algarve, a 30,000-seat venue built for the 2004 European Championship. The U.S. will face Italy in Portimao.

"The Algarve Cup is a very important tournament for several reasons," Sundhage said. "First, it is excellent preparation for the Olympic qualification, especially playing four difficult matches in eight days. That is a test of our fitness, our mental toughness and also our depth. But also, like we faced in the Four Nations tournament in China, it gives the team a chance to play against three very good teams in the group who all play different styles, and that is fantastic for the development of our team rhythm, as well as for our young players getting experience at a big tournament."

U.S. Algarve Cup Roster

GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart, Gilbertsville, Pa.; Hope Solo, Richland, Wash..

DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler, Del Mar, Calif.; Stephanie Cox, Elk Grove, Calif.; Tobin Heath, Basking Ridge, N.J.; Kate Markgraf, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Christie Rampone, Point Pleasant, N.J.; Cat Whitehill, Birmingham, Ala.

MIDFIELDERS: Shannon Boxx, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Lori Chalupny, St. Louis; Angela Hucles, Virginia Beach, Va.; Carli Lloyd, Delran, N.J.; Leslie Osborne, Brookfield, Wis.; Lindsay Tarpley, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Angie Woznuk, El Cajon, Calif.

FORWARDS: Lauren Cheney, Indianapolis; Natasha Kai, Kahuku, Hawaii; Heather O'Reilly, East Brunswick, N.J.; Amy Rodriguez, Lake Forest, Calif.; Abby Wambach, Rochester, N.Y.