The U.S. Women's National Team begins its quest for the fourth Olympic gold medal in the program's history when it opens the 2012 London Olympics against France on Wednesday at the famed Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.
New Zealand, with Stanford grad Ali Riley on its roster, will open the Olympic tournament an hour earlier.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said her team's goal is pretty simple.
"I would say we always look at the next game and want to play well," she said. "And, if we always win the next game, we're going to win the gold medal. But, I'm not talking about the gold medal that much. I'm talking about the next game. I think that it's exciting because if you look at our group we have France first and they play very differentl than Colombia and Colombia plays very different than North Korea..
"So, I'm excited about different styles of soccer and we will make sure that we prepare for the next game. We really want to win the next game and go all the way to the final."
The U.S. team has been in the UK since July 11 and in Glasgow since July 17, and despite some rainy weather, the pre-Olympic training has gone very well for the Americans. Should U.S. defender Christie Rampone start against France as expected, she will become the USA's all-time leader in Olympic appearances with 17, passing legends Joy Fawcett, Stanford grad Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly and Kate Markgraf.
Stanford will be represented by Rachel Buehler, Nicole Barnhart and first-time Olympian Kelley O'Hara. All three are defenders, with Barnhart serving as the backup goalie.
No other school can claim as many players on the U.S. team as Stanford's three. This will be the second Olympic tournament for Barnhart, Buehler, and Riley, and the first for O'Hara. In addition, Christen Press '11 will be with the U.S. team as an alternate.
O'Hara has finally found her niche with the U.S. team as an outside left back, with the freedom to go forward and play like a wing much like Riley did at Stanford during College Cup seasons in 2008 and '09. O'Hara was a Hermann Trophy-winning forward at Stanford in 2009.
"Some of the great defenders on this team have started as forwards early in their careers and made their way to the back," said U.S. veteran Christie Rampone. "So I think a left back position for Kelley is a great spot for her and she goes forward very well, and she gives tour offensive attack a lot more flare. She's really coming into her own defensively, on one-to-one defending she's doing real well and I think she's learning her role of connecting with the back line.
"So, I'm really confident in the way Kelley's playing and looking forward to seeing how well she does here in the Olympics."
The two-time defending champs will have to make the gold-medal game (Aug. 9) to be assured of playing in London, and they won't be attending Friday's opening ceremony because they have an afternoon game against Colombia in Glasgow the next day.
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