The United States is going to the Algarve Cup final, but it won't be with much momentum. The Americans were held to a scoreless draw by lowly Iceland in their group stage finale, leaving them on the back foot as they get ready to take on high flying France for the tournament title.
The match against Iceland was not televised anywhere, so it's impossible to say what went wrong or right, but failing to score and drawing against the 20th ranked team in the world is not a good result. The Americans are only in the final because they were in the tournament's easiest group, and they still failed to put together a good 90 minutes.
Things started with a 2-1 win over Norway, but the Americans went into halftime of that match down. They beat Switzerland, 3-0, in their next match, but they failed to score in the first half of that contest too. And finally, they didn't score at all against Iceland.
It's important not to put too much stock into the Algarve Cup. It's an odd tournament that forces teams to play four matches in eight days, so there are tired legs and heavy team rotation. But this is the tournament that spelled the end for Tom Sermanni's reign a year ago and the U.S. has struggled ever since under Jill Ellis. The disappointing and lackluster showings in this Algarve Cup are not outliers, but the norm.
The U.S. will face a stern test against France. This is the same team that beat them 2-0 a month ago, and the match wasn't as close as the scoreline suggests. Both teams will be tired, but with the World Cup just three months away, the Americans will want to show that they have made progress. If not, the questions about this team will continue into April, May and June.