Former Stanford soccer standouts Rachel Buehler and Nicole Barnhart could probably used a break right about now, but neither is going to get one. The two have just joined the FC Gold Pride training camp last Friday following a successful stint with the U.S. National Team.
Buehler and Barnhart helped the U.S. reach the championship game of the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal, where the Americans lost to Sweden in penalty kicks, 4-3. The match marked the USA's seventh straight Algarve Cup championship game.
The U.S. won the tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, but fell in penalty kicks to the Germans in the 2006. The USA won the Algarve Cup for the first time in 2000.
The U.S. played without starting defender Lori Chalupny, who missed her second straight game due to illness, but Buehler filled in admirably at left back.
The U.S. players are back in the United States now to join their WPS clubs in final preparations for the inaugural season that opens March 29.
The Santa Clara-based FC Gold Pride of the new WPS league released four players to reduce its preseason roster from 28 players to 24. The current roster features one of Japan's top goal scorers, Eriko Arakawa as well as US Soccer star Tiffeny Milbrett and soccer icon Brandi Chastain.
The team is in the middle of a four-day road trip to Los Angeles which includes two exhibition matches against the Los Angeles Sol. The Pride will take on the Sol in the second of two scheduled exhibition matches on Tuesday morning at the Home Depot Center in Carson. Following the closed-door scrimmage, the team will return to the Bay Area to continue preparations for the season opener including an exhibition match Saturday, March 21 at the University of San Francisco that is open to the public.
Canada's top striker, Christine Sinclair is scheduled to join the Pride when the team returns to the Bay Area on Wednesday. Canada's team captain and all-time women's leading goal scorer will arrive after helping her team to the Cyprus Cup finals where she scored her 99th career international goal.
The next round of cuts, which must be made by March 25, will trim the team numbers to 18 roster players plus four developmental spots. Stanford grads Marssa Abegg and Leah Tapscott still remain among the 24 players.
FC Gold Pride will kick off the 2009 WPS season on April 5th at home against the Boston Breakers at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University. Tickets are available by calling (408) 541-3511 or on the internet at fcgoldpride.com.