May 7, 2010 > Golden opportunity
By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo
FC Gold Pride is red hot. Heading into the Saturday, May 8, game against the Chicago Red Stars, the Pride have won three straight and look to extend its lead in the WPS standings.
Gold Pride (3-1) sits in first place with nine points (one point ahead of Philadelphia Independence) and are unbeaten (2-0) at its temporary home field at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium. But the Pride can't sleep on the Red Stars, which are loaded with offensive talent, and just beat the previously-unbeaten Breakers in Boston last weekend.
Chicago's offensive firepower is something that Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya is focused on preventing from breaking out.
"Everyone talks about how dangerous we are up top," Montoya said, "but I think Chicago might be even more dangerous. They have Cristiane, (Karen) Carney, (Megan) Rapinoe and Casey Nogueira. Those four players are outstanding in the attacking half and create problems for all teams.
"They do a good job of spreading them on the field," Montoya continued. "We'll definitely have to keep an eye on them. They are probably the most dangerous team we have faced so far."
But even with the threats Chicago has on its roster, coach Montoya believes if the Pride play their game, the Red Stars will have problems of their own.
"We watched Chicago play, and we know they are going to be dangerous," said Montoya. "We'd like to think if we play our game, they have to adjust to that."
That offensive game plan by the Pride is to put as much pressure on the Red Stars (1-2-1) backline as possible. Christine Sinclair is a striker that could present match-up problems for Chicago.
"I think she is probably the most dangerous finisher in the box," said Montoya of Sinclair. "She can score in many different ways, and because of the players we have surrounding her, she gets in good positions to finish things off."
Montoya continues to acknowledge the team's opponents week-in and week-out, but still believes the real challenges are improving his team and continuing to get better as the season moves forward.
"We need to keep getting better every week, because all the other teams are doing the same," said Montoya. "There are a lot of things we need to do better ... to make sure we're playing our best when playoff time comes."
Two heady players -- Becky Edwards and Carrie Dew -- have helped with the team's resurgence. Since they have been inserted in the lineup after the opening weekend loss, the team has gone 3-0.
"Becky Edwards and Carrie Dew understand their roles very well," said Montoya, who believes that duo helps the forwards play a better game. "They know how to defend; they know how to cover for (the forwards); and know how to protect our backline.
"It's a combination of that," Montoya added, "and players coming together and playing well."
Edwards, Dew and crew hope to make it four in a row on Saturday night, kicking off at 7 p.m.