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1st consecutive losses for US women since 2001

March 10, 2014

The United States women’s soccer team is having a memorable trip to the Algarve Cup — for all the wrong reasons.

The Americans lost consecutive games for the first time in 13 years and conceded five goals in a match for the first time in the team’s 29-year history, finishing last in their group following a 5-3 defeat to Denmark on Monday at Albufeira, Portugal.

Winless at 0-2-1, the U.S. faces North Korea in the seventh-place game Wednesday. The Americans had won the title nine times in 18 previous trips.

“The results in this tournament are obviously not up to our standards,” defender Christie Rampone said. “We have to re-focus and re-evaluate and we will get better leading into the rest of the year. A lot of young players got some time against great teams and that can only help moving forward.”

Denmark built a 3-0 lead when Katine Veje scored in the 24th minute and Nadia Nadim added goals in the 35th and 39th.

Christen Press pulled the U.S. to 3-1 in the 51st, but Joanna Rasmussen restored a three-goal lead in the 62nd. The U.S. closed to 4-3 on goals by Sydney Leroux in the 63rd and Megan Rapinoe in the 68th, and Karoline Nielsen ended the American comeback hopes when she scored in the third minute of stoppage time. The U.S. had not lost by two goals since a 2-0 defeat to Norway in the Americans’ 2008 Olympic opener.

The Americans opened this tournament by wasting a lead in a 1-1 tie against World Cup champion Japan last Wednesday, then fell 1-0 to Sweden and former coach Pia Sundhage on Friday, ending a two-year, 43-game unbeaten streak. That was the first loss following a 16-0-4 start under coach Tom Sermanni.

“It’s been a strange tournament, but that’s a great lesson because that’s how tournament football is sometimes,” Sermanni said. “Things can turn very quickly in your favor or turn against you. If you look analytically at the three games we’ve played.”

The U.S. last lost consecutive games at the 2001 Algarve Cup, 2-0 to Sweden in the group stage on March 17 and 4-3 to Portugal two days later in the fifth-place match. The Americans were missing many of their top players at that tournament ahead of the launch of a women’s league back home.

This time they were nearly at full strength.

Not exactly that the U.S. team wanted in the year’s biggest national team event ahead of World Cup qualifying, which will be held from Oct. 16-26 at Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

“We’re seven months away from qualifiers and even longer from the World Cup,” Rapinoe said. “Of course, we want to have to better results, but it’s not time to get to down on ourselves or be panicked. No one wins every game in football, and these last two games we played excellent teams and just didn’t get it done.”

NOTES: Japan (2-0-1) advanced to the final against Germany, winning Group B by defeating Sweden 2-1 on Aya Miyama’s 89th-minute penalty kick. Group A winner Germany (3-0) beat Norway 3-1.

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