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August 27, 2010 > Gold Pride begin preparation for WPS title

Gold Pride begin preparation for WPS title

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Photo by Patricia Giobetti

FC Gold Pride has been the class of Women's Professional Soccer all year long. After its win last weekend (3-2 at Chicago Red Stars), the Pride clinched the WPS regular season title and will host the WPS Championship on Sept. 26.

But the Pride (13-3-4, 43 points) still have four games left in the regular season before they can focus intently on the championship. For now, the four games - two against teams (Atlanta and Sky Blue FC) vying for a spot in the playoffs; two against the second (Philadelphia) and third (Boston) place teams - will serve as preparation.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, the Pride will head to KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., to battle with the last-place Atlanta Beat (5-10-5, 20 points). KSU Soccer Stadium is the site where FC Gold Pride began its current run, 6-0-3, slamming the Beat to a 4-0 outcome on July 3.

That match started a five-game win streak, followed by three-straight scoreless draws (including Aug. 1 at Atlanta), and the clincher last week at Chicago.

On the flip side, it's been a constant struggle for the Beat. Atlanta has struggled all year - minus a three-game win streak earlier this month - to string any wins together. Last week, the Beat stayed alive in the playoff hunt with a 3-2 at the Boston Breakers. But with four games left, and trailing the final playoff spot by five points, the Beat need wins.

FC Gold Pride will take pride in playing spoiler while prepping and resting itself for the postseason. That will begin Saturday in Georgia.

For the Gold Pride, players to watch are the usual suspects: Marta (leading WPS with 15 goals), Christine Sinclair, as well as Rachel Buehler and Candace Chapman on the defensive end. For the Beat, keeper Hope Solo played remarkable in the scoreless draw on Aug. 1. Also look out for striker Eniola Aluko, midfielder Lori Chalupny and defender Tina Ellertson.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m.

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