Sports

Trio of Stanford grads ready for U.S.-Sweden soccer matches

O'Hara, Buehler and Barnhart among 24-player U.S. National Team roster

Former Stanford soccer standouts and current FC Gold Pride teammates Kelley O'Hara, Rachel Buehler and Nicole Barnhart will pool their resources this week in hopes of helping the U.S. Women's National Team defeat Sweden in a pair of international matches.

First up is a match on Tuesday in Omaha, Neb. (6 p.m., ESPN), followed by a showdown Saturday in East Hartford, Conn.

USA head coach Pia Sundhage called up 24 players for the two matches against Sweden, the home country of Sundhage.

The countries have met three times since Sundhage took over the helm of the U.S. team, with the USA winning twice and tying once. The draw came in the championship game of the 2009 Algarve Cup in Portugal, a match in which the USA eventually fell after penalty kicks.

"Sweden is one of the world's high-ranked teams and we have not played very well against them the last couple of times, so that will inspire our players to play well," said Sundhage. "It is always good to play against a top European team and defensively it will be good to see how we do against the fast and clever players that Sweden has up top. We also get to play two games, so some players who maybe have not gotten to play 90 minutes in a while for the national team may get to play an entire game."

These will mark the second and third international matches during the current Women's Professional Soccer season after the USA defeated Germany, 4-0, in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 22. Sundhage will choose 18 players to suit up for each match.

A total of 22 of the 24 players called up come from WPS; the exceptions being forward Alex Morgan, a rising senior at California, and FFC Frankfurt defender Ali Krieger, the only foreign-based player currently in the U.S. WNT player pool.

The USA will get back several players who missed the Germany game due to injuries. Midfielder Carli Lloyd has recovered from a broken ankle suffered while playing with her WPS club Sky Blue FC while O'Hara has overcome some foot issues. She returns to the roster and is perhaps the league's top rookie so far this season.

Sundhage and her staff seemed to have settled on the solid trio of goalkeepers as once again Nicole Barnhart and Jill Loyden join first-choice Hope Solo on the roster.

The match will mark the 27th and 28th meetings between the USA and Sweden with the Americans having won 17, lost three and tied six.

Sweden is widely regarded as one of the top women's national teams in the world and one of several favorites to lift the trophy at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The Swedes, who are fourth in the last FIFA Women's World Rankings, have all but sealed first place in their qualifying group with two matches left to play.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports/USsoccer.com

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