USA vs. Iceland: Opening Game Key to Advancing in Algarve Cup

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 6, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 19:  Abby Wombach #20 of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team brings the ball up field against Sweden at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

On Mar. 6 in Albufeira, Portugal, Team USA's women's national team will play Iceland to open up the Algarve Cup. The Americans are 49-10-8 all-time at the Algarve Cup.

This opening game will go a long way towards defining USA's ability to advance in the Algarve Cup and repeat past success.

According to FIFA's official rankings, the Americans are the top-ranked team in the world. Iceland, meanwhile, ranks 15th.

It won't be easy, but this is a game Team USA should win. More importantly, this is a game that the Americans need to win.

The American women are members of Group B at the 20th annual Algarve Cup. With three high-quality teams in their group, the national team will face stiff competition as they hope to advance.

Their opponents include Sweden, China and, as previously alluded to, Iceland.

Sweden is the sixth-ranked team in the world, per FIFA. Although the Americans hold a significant advantage over the Swedes, it will hardly be a cake-walk when they cross paths.

It gets no easier against 17th-ranked China.

In a match that the Americans should have minimal issues winning, they must secure the points. Iceland is no walk-over, but Team USA holds a significant talent advantage.

With the opportunity to secure a a statement victory, the Americans must gain as much momentum as possible for future battles.

Keep in mind, football powers Germany and Japan are teams in the Algarve Cup. Not only are those two teams capable of taking the crown, but two squads with confidence.

Japan defeated USA at last year's Algarve Cup.

Furthermore, the Americans will be without goalkeeper Hope Solo. For that reason, developing some early momentum and confidence is pivotal to their future success.

Fortunately, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan will both be present. In other words, they will rack up the goals.

Morgan and Wambach help to make up a roster that consists of 14 women that helped Team USA win the Olympic Gold Medal in 2012. This is why the Americans are, again, the favorites to win it all.

In order to live up to that potential, however, the U.S. women's national team must start out strong with a win over Iceland.