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June 4, 2010 > Gold Pride look for return to form

Gold Pride look for return to form

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

FC Gold Pride returns home with first place on the line this weekend when the second-place Washington Freedom come to Castro Valley Athletic Stadium on Saturday, June 5.

After dropping a 1-0 decision to the Chicago Red Stars, and losing its five-game win streak in the process, the Pride are hoping to return to form against the streaking Freedom.

"We got away from our game," said Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "We played a little bit more of a long ball game and started pressing too much when we didn't necessarily need to do that."

Chicago went up early in the second half, and it was the first time since opening weekend that the Pride have trailed in a game, and Montoya thought the team may have panicked.

"We were a little panicked," said Montoya. "Not to make excuses but there were a lot of distractions this week, and as a coaching staff, we could have done better to deal with that and we'll make sure to learn from that."

Montoya will get a coach on the field beginning this week when the Pride look to remain calm against the top-scoring team in WPS. Gold Pride signed Shannon Boxx (who became a free agent when the St. Louis Athletica shut down its operations on Thursday, May 27) on Tuesday, June 1.

"We're very excited to have Shannon join the Pride," said Montoya. "She is one of the best midfielders in the world. Her experience, leadership and skills are invaluable. She has all of the qualities we're looking for in a player, I know she'll fit in very well with the Pride."

Boxx joined the Pride for its Thursday training session and is expected to be in uniform on Saturday night when the team take on Abby Wambach and the Freedom.

Washington has gone 3-0-1, racking up 10 points over the last four games to cut the Gold Pride first-place lead to two points. Gold Pride (5-2-0, 15 points) puts first place on the line; the Freedom (4-2-1, 13 points) can leapfrog them with a win.

"We are not doing anything different in training but we have seen good development of our competitive mentality," said Freedom coach Jim Gabarra. "We have done a better job of not giving up soft goals or easy scoring chances over the past few weeks.

"Abby's form and all the other players playing their roles is what has the team in a good place right now," concluded Gabarra.

And for Gabarra, to keep his team playing at a high level, the focus needs to go to Marta and all others will be affected by her being limited.

"Whenever you play against Marta she is the one you must focus on limiting," Gabarra said. "I do not think you can shut her down but the goal is to limit what she creates and that will limit how effective (Christine) Sinclair and (Kelley) O'Hara are."

For Montoya and the Pride, it won't be too hard to get up for a game which will determine the WPS' top team.

"I don't think they need much more motivation than going up against the second-place team," said Montoya. "And the winning team will determine who's in first. That in itself is huge motivation."

Kickoff at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

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