Events this month:
Thursday, March 3 – Wednesday, March 9
This could be interesting
The United States will host the first SheBelieves Cup, featuring four of the five top-ranked teams in the world: Team USA (No. 1), Germany (2), France (3) and England (5).
This is a level of competition that the Americans haven’t seen since last summer’s World Cup. It’s a level of competition they’ll run into as they go for their fifth Olympic gold medal this summer in Rio de Janeiro.
“When I took this job,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said, “one of my main objectives was to play the best teams in the world during our preparation periods, and you can’t ask for better matches.”
She added: “To get the chance to play these great teams on home soil is a treat for our fans and extremely valuable in the further evolution of our team. These are the kinds of games where you get tested all over the field and can really evaluate players.”
Games will be played in Nashville, Tampa, and Boca Raton. (There’s a full schedule here.)
The tournament won’t have a title game. Each team will play the other three teams one time. Three points will be awarded for each win, one for a draw. The champion will be the team with the most points.
The tie-breakers, in order: overall goal differential; total goals scored; head-to-head results; and FIFA rankings.
The three U.S. games will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 or shown on the Web at ESPN3.
Wednesday, March 2 – Wednesday, March 9
Algarve won’t be the same without Team USA
Because of the SheBelieves Cup, the United States won’t take part in the 2016 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
The Americans have been a fixture at Algarve, playing in 20 of the 22 annual editions of the tournament since its creation in 1994. They’ve been at every one since 1998.
And they’ve dominated, winning the Algarve Cup 10 times. (Norway is next, with four titles.)
With Team USA taking a pass this time, the field of eight is:
• New Zealand
But playing Iceland on the sunny southern coast of Portugal is nothing like going against England, France and Germany in the span of a week.
Wednesday, March 9
Last call for Rio
Two Olympic qualifying tournaments conclude, one in Japan, the other in Europe. They will determine who gets the last three invitations to the Rio Games.
Two teams will move on from the Asian Football Confederation qualifier in Japan.
One of these four will grab the last European seat: the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, or Switzerland.
They will join the nine teams that are already in:
• The United States
• New Zealand
• South Africa
Friday, March 25
Still No. 1?
The new world rankings come out. Whether America remains atop the heap may well depend on the SheBelieves Cup.
March 12 – Amy LePielbet turns 34
March 17 – Mia Hamm (photo) turns 44
March 19 – Lori Lindsey turns 36