Are you a new fan who found your way here after being sent into a soccer-related Googling frenzy by the awesomeness of the World Cup (Hello!)? Perhaps an old friend who just got a little too caught up in the tournament and accidentally maybe neglected WPS a little bit? Bored at work and just looking for something to read? Yes?
You’ve come to the right place! Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of what’s been going on in the land of WPS while all that awesome was happening in Germany. All six teams are in action this weekend and the playoff race is tighter than ever as the season hits the homestretch. So read on and catch up. (Or don’t – it’s really up to you, but you’ve already made it this far.)
Atlanta Beat (1-10-3, 6 points 6/6 – 4 Games Remaining)
Previously: Atlanta was 0-5-0 in the month of May, conceding 14 goals and scoring just one.
At the end of May the Beat acquired Kelly Parker and Julianne Sitch from Western NY – perhaps a nod to the fact that the whole “youth movement” thing had gone way more awry than they’d planned. With Sitch and Parker Atlanta managed a 0-0 draw at Philadelphia to start June off with a point. Then Parker made Canada’s World Cup roster and Sitch got relegated to the bench, and has played just 118 minutes since joining the team.
Atlanta also lost Carli Lloyd and Heather Mitts to the World Cup. The Beat picked up Kacey White from magicJack in exchange for a 2012 fourth round draft pick – and promptly lost 3-2 to White’s old team – even after Dan Borislow called the Beat a “high school team”.
A sleepy 0-0 draw with Boston earned Atlanta their second point of the month, but cost the Beat defender Keeley Dowling, who went down with an ACL injury. And then, not to be outdone by Borislow, James Galanis dropped this gem after the Beat closed out the pre-World Cup part of the season with a 1-0 loss at Sky Blue, stating that “Nothing changes for us, we just continue. We didn’t expect to make the playoffs and even if we did we don’t know how far we would have gone with the lack of experience we’ve got…” So, yeah. White flag: raised.
To start the post-World Cup part of the season, Atlanta waived Katie Bethke and mutually terminated Lyndsey Patterson’s contract. Atlanta has yet to score a goal since play resumed, losing 2-0 at Boston and 1-0 against Philadelphia.
With just four games remaining, not a single road win this season, the league’s worst goal differential by a landslide (7 for, 27 against, -20), and just one win thus far, Atlanta is en route to a worse finish than when it was an expansion team last season. Quite a feat.
Next Up: Atlanta will host magicJack on July 23rd in front of a sold-out crowd. Mitts should be back – and is probably pretty well-rested after not seeing the field in the World Cup. Lloyd will also be back, but probably not for long – she’s just one yellow card away from suspension. In 2010, Lloyd was two yellows away from suspension when she broke her ankle. She earned a cautions in her first two games back. So, Atlanta, you’ve been warned. Mitts, for the record, is two cautions from a suspension of her own. Sigh. Well, at least Lori Chalupny gets to play somewhere.
Boston Breakers (4-5-3, 15 points 3/6 – 6 Games Remaining)
Previously: Boston, the team that looked destined to be in real trouble when the World Cup rolled around, is riding a four game unbeaten streak. Despite losing Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Amy LePeilbet, Lauren Cheney, Kelley O’Hara, Kelly Smith, Alex Scott and Aya Sameshima, the Breakers are actually in a better position than they were with those players.
Boston traded Nikki Washington to magicJack in exchange for Meghan Klingenberg and a player to be named later on June 1st. Four days later Klingenberg scored one goal and assisted on the other in her new team’s 2-1 win over her old team. The “player to named later” was revealed to Nikki Marshall, who would continue playing for magicJack until late-July. On June 9th Boston officially signed Japan outside back Aya Sameshima, who made her WPS debut three days later in a 0-0 draw at Sky Blue FC.
The Breakers signed backup goalkeeper Kati Jo Spisak in mid-June, but she didn’t get to make her debut against her old team – or at all, because Alyssa Naeher was busy earning clean sheets (and her old teams are Washington and St. Louis). Boston closed out pre-World Cup play with that 0-0 draw at Atlanta and then Tony DiCicco got on plane to go be on ESPN to analyze the World Cup sit at a shiny desk in a big blue truck and interrupt Brandi Chastain and Bob Ley.
With assistant coach Lisa Cole at the helm, Boston beat Atlanta 2-0 when play resumed. In order to make room for Marhsall the Breakers terminated Kiersten Dallstream’s contract on July 18th, a little more than two months after acquiring her from Sky Blue. Marshall officially became a Breaker on July 21.
Next Up: Boston play host to Western NY on June 24th, live on Fox Soccer. Stephanie Cox, Alex Scott and Kelley O’Hara, will be back. Kelly Smith and Lauren Cheney are listed as injured while Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, and Aya Sameshima are also expected to miss the match. With six to play and the Breakers even on points with magicJack and Sky Blue just two back, Boston’s playoff fate is still very much hanging in the balance.