5 more things you might not know about the SheBelieves Cup

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The winners of the first SheBelieves Cup hope to repeat next month. (AP)

 

The U.S. women’s team begins its 2017 season on March 1, when the second annual SheBelieves Cup gets under way. The tournament runs through March 7.

The other teams taking part are England, France and Germany, the same teams the Americans beat in last year’s inaugural tournament.

Here are five oddities, curiosities, or (possibly) interesting facts about the SheBelieves Cup:

 

1.

Creation of the SheBelieves Cup in 2016 ended Team USA’s superb run at the Algarve Cup, a prestigious women’s tournament played every spring in southern Portugal. The Americans dominated at Algarve: In 20 appearances from 1994 to 2015, they won 10 times, were runners-up four times, and finished third twice.

In the absence of the United States, Canada won the 2016 Algarve Cup, defeating Brazil 2-1 in the title match.

 

2.

The U.S. women have never lost at RFK Stadium in Washington, where they’ll play France in the closing match, on March 7.

In nine previous appearances at RFK, the Americans have beaten Norway, China, Italy, New Zealand, Canada (twice), Sweden, Mexico, and Haiti, outscoring their opponents 25-5.

rfk

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. (Carol M. Highsmith Archive/Library of Congress)

3.

England has become a rising power in women’s soccer since Mark Sampson was put in charge just over three years ago.

In 2015, the team made its best World Cup showing ever, upsetting Germany 1-0 in extra time to take third place. That was the first time England had beaten the Germans in 21 tries.

In three previous World Cup appearances — in 1995, 2007, and 2011– the English women failed to get past the quarterfinals.

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England is ranked No. 5 in the world, and for a while last year, it was No. 4. When Sampson arrived at the end of 2013, the team was No. 11.

Sampson, a former amateur footballer from Wales, is just 34 — one of the youngest head coaches in the international women’s game. Before taking over the national team, his coaching experience was largely confined to a couple of Welsh and British club teams.

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Mark Sampson. (James Boyes/Flickr)

4.

Germany (No. 2 in the world) is generally regarded as the most fearsome rival of the United States (No. 1).

But the truth is, the rivalry has been one-sided.

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Julie Johnston and Alexandra Popp of Germany in the 2015 World Cup. (Getty Images)

The teams have played 31 times. The Americans have won 20 times, the Germans four. Seven games were draws.

They’ve met in four World Cups. (The victor each time went on to win the championship.) Team USA beat Germany in the 1991 semifinals (5-2); the 1999 quarterfinals (3-2) and the 2015 semifinals (2-0). Germany beat Team USA in the 2003 semifinals (3-0).

That was Germany’s last win over the Red, White and Blue. In 13 meetings since, the United States has won eight times, with the other five matches ending in draws.

Team USA is the reigning World Cup champion (2015). Germany is the reigning Olympic champion (2016).

5.

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Steffi Jones (Arne Koehler)

Germany has a new coach.

Steffi Jones, a defender on the German team that won the 2003 World Cup, succeeded the revered Silvia Neid after last summer’s Rio Olympics.

In Neid’s 11 years as coach, Germany won 125 games, lost 22, and played to 22 draws.  That’s a victory rate of almost 74 percent.

In addition to the 2016 Olympic gold medal, she led Germany to the 2007 World Cup championship, two European championships (in 2009 and 2013), and three Algarve Cup titles (2006, 2012, 2014).

Neid was named the Women’s World Coach of the Year for 2016, the third time she was so honored. (She also won in 2010 and 2013.)

No one else has won the award  more than once.

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Silvia Neid (Getty Images)

 

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