March 6, 2013
ALBUFEIRA, Portugal - Rachel Buehler '07 earned her 100th cap for the U.S. women's national team on Wednesday and scored a goal to make her milestone match even more special.
Buehler headed in the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute to spark the U.S. to a 3-0 victory over Iceland in the teams' opening match at the Algarve Cup, on the same field in which she received her first cap - in a 4-0 victory over China on March 5, 2008.
A `cap' signifies an appearance for one full national team against another. The term recalls the days when players were given actual caps each time they represented their country.
Buehler, who wore the captain's armband as is tradition for player earning their 100th cap, scored her fourth international goal. Iceland held the U.S. scoreless throughout the first half, but Buehler changed the tenor of the match when, on a corner kick, she ran onto Lauren Cheney's service and deflected it into the left corner.
"Today was an incredible game for me," she said to ussoccer.com. "It's sort of coming full circle here in the Algarve for me as I got my first cap here and my 100th cap here.
"Wearing this jersey is always such an honor and I value every moment of that, but to wear the captain's armband makes it even more special. And then to get a goal on top of it ...
"Usually we hit the corner kicks back post, but it came right to my head and I was ready and it was probably the best goal I've had. Well, maybe the Korea goal (in the 2011 Women's World Cup), but it was an awesome goal so I'm pretty excited about it."
Buehler becomes the second former Stanford player to reach 100 caps, following longtime U.S. captain Julie Foudy '93, who played for the U.S. from 1987-2004, earned 271 caps, and won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups.
At Stanford, Buehler was a two-time second-team NSCAA All-American and the 2007 ESPN Scholar-Athlete of the year. The three-year team captain out of Del Mar, Calif., was a two-time All-Pac-10 first-team choice under current Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe. Stanford reached the NCAA tournament in each of her four seasons (2003, 2005-07), twice advancing as far as the third round.
The rugged defender is a fearless ball-winner who has done her best work for the U.S. in the center of the defense. Buehler played for U.S. teams that won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The future medical student was named the U.S. co-captain by then-coach Pia Sundhage in 2010 - becoming the 12th captain in U.S. national team history - and is known for being a model professional with a tremendous work ethic.
Buehler is among four former Stanford stars on the 23-player U.S. roster. Outside back Kelley O'Hara '10 started and played 90 minutes on Wednesday, Christen Press '11 was a 64th-minute substitute at left midfield, and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart '04 was in reserve.
The U.S. continues action at the Algarve Cup on Friday against China (6 a.m. PT) and Monday against Sweden (7 a.m.). If it wins four-team Group B, the U.S. will play the Group A winner in the final on March 13.