FC Gold Pride are in Atlanta this weekend to take on the All-Star laden roster of the Atlanta Beat on Saturday, July 3. Despite Atlanta's less-than impressive record (1-5-3, 6 points) they have the most number of WPS All-Stars, seven; Gold Pride, on the other hand, with the top team in WPS, only sent five players to the All-Star Game.
It should be noted, however, that of the seven Beat all stars -- Hope Solo, Tina Ellertson, Lori Chalupny, Aya Miyama, Eniola Aluko, Ramona Bachmann and Angie Kerr -- only Bachmann and Kerr have been on the Beat all season; the five others were members of St. Louis Athletica and were picked up by the Beat after Athletica folded.
"They have seven (all stars) really," FC Gold Pride coach Montoya said with a chuckle. "That's quite a bit. But there's no bragging rights (between all stars), we're just out here to try and get a win and stay on the top of the leader board."
In an early-season match-up, Carrie Dew saved the Pride from a draw, scoring the game-winning goal in the 88th minute against the far-less intimidating Beat in week three.
Gold Pride is also coming off a 2-0 shutout loss to Sky Blue FC on Sunday, June 27, marking its first home loss of the season; Atlanta is entering the game having a three-game unbeaten streak (1-0-2) as they attempt to make a push for the playoffs.
"They're still figuring out how to come together," Montoya said of the new-look Beat. "But we've got to go out there and keep improving on our game."
But going into Saturday's game, the Gold Pride, and coach Albertin Montoya feel they may have a slight advantage, thanks to the All-Star Game.
"We're going to take advantage of that," said Montoya of his team taking the week to get acclimated to the hot, humid Georgia weather. "We're going to be here three times this year, so might as well get used to it now and hopefully be ready for it Saturday."
And with Montoya being the coach of Team Marta XI, including Pride members Marta, Christine Sinclair and Rachel Buehler -- Kelley O'Hara and Shannon Boxx of the Pride are on Team Wambach XI --he hopes to keep his players minutes limited.
"The plan is to play our players 20-25 minutes, and play the Beat for 90 minutes," Montoya said jokingly after his first training session with the All-Star club on Tuesday, June 29.
In the Pride's practice on Tuesday morning in Kennesaw, Ga., site of KSU Soccer Stadium (just outside of Atlanta), home of the Atlanta Beat the Pride's starting keeper hobbled off the field with an apparent ankle injury, but should be fit to play come Saturday night's kickoff.
Gold Pride's organization sent all of its roster -- minus the developmental players -- because of the early trip for a road game. (Typically, the week leading into a road game on Saturday, the Pride would practice at home through Wednesday before flying out on Thursday, with the traveling 16-player roster making the trip.)
"It was nice enough that our owners allowed us to do that," Montoya said.
Kickoff at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., is at 4 p.m. PT. After 90 minutes of up-and-down in the Georgia heat, FC Gold Pride's play on the field will determine whether the unusual week of training was for the better.