Category Archives: Sky Blue FC

Spirit get first win of season, 4-3 over Sky Blue

Franny Ordega had a career match to lead the Spirit to their first win of 2017.

Franny Ordega had a career match to lead the Spirit to their first win of 2017.

Driving to the Soccerplex on Saturday, I was already composing this article in expectation of another lackluster performance. “Should the Spirit change their name? Spirit is the one thing that they’ve seemed to lack this season.” I was also going to note that Francisca Ordega seemed too fragile for this league, too often being bumped off the ball.

Shows what I know.

An almost unrecognizable team showed up Saturday evening, especially in the first half: completing passes, making runs off the ball, and showing an intensity that had been lacking in their previous three matches. And far from being a fragile flower, Ordega was muscling defenders off the ball in what some were calling the best NWSL performance of 2017 as she played a role in all four Washington goals: scoring two, assisting on one, and contributing to an own goal with a shot across the goalmouth.
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Spirit steal win from Sky Blue, 1-0

It wasn’t that long ago that a soccer version of Murphy’s Law seemed to govern the Washington Spirit: anything that could go wrong would, and even playing well didn’t ensure success. Playing as badly as they did Saturday night would have been a disaster on the scoreboard. Instead, in second-half stoppage time Crystal Dunn found Francisca Ordega with a long ball over the top that left Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron in no-man’s land, too far out to protect the goal but not far enough out to get to the ball. Ordega collected the ball, dodged past Cameron, and put it away in the open net.

Head coach Mark Parsons, normally loquacious, was terse and pointed in the post-game interview. When asked why he only subbed twice in a game where the Spirit were struggling for chances, he said, “I couldn’t make more subs because I couldn’t decide who deserved to come off more. Because it was bad. Really bad. And they know it. About the 60th minute, I’m already thinking about training and I wouldn’t know where to start, because there were about 200 things you would want to touch on.”
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Spirit suffer first loss, 2-1, to Sky Blue

Robyn Gayle has her hands full with Lisa De Vanna, who would assist on the game-winning goal and give the Spirit defense fits all evening

If the Washington Spirit had a mantra going into today’s match, it might well have been “Don’t give up a late goal.” In their inaugural match on the road against Boston, they let one in in second-half stoppage time to turn a win into a draw. Then last week in their home opener they gave up a goal in the 84th minute, and only midfielder Diana Matheson converting a penalty kick shortly thereafter kept that game from being a loss.

In this match, though, they went to the other extreme for untimely goals, getting scored on 90 seconds into the first half and under three minutes into the second. An anemic Spirit offense that has so far managed just two goals from the run of play in 270 minutes was unable to keep up, and Washington fell to Sky Blue, 2-1.
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Breakers-Sky Blue postgame sound-notes

Some postgame quotes after Sunday’s 2-0 victory for Boston over Sky Blue FC, that sees the Breakers, despite a 5-9-4 regular season record, qualify for the postseason.

Boston will travel to Boca Raton, Fla. for the game against magicJack Wednesday night.

It was confirmed after the game that Lauren Cheney’s goal 14 seconds into the game was the fastest in WPS history, breaking Christine Sinclair’s record that stood for a year.

And as you’ll hear, it wasn’t a complete accident.

Cheney’s goals were her second and third of the season, but she had only played in eight matches before Sunday’s game.

Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra was pretty honest and direct about his team’s performance and the decision not to start Casey Nogueira and put Petra Hogewoning in her place. Obviously, it didn’t work, but hindsight can be 20-20.

Jim Gabarra

Tony DiCicco was finally happy to have a (almost, still no Kelly Smith) full team to put on the field and explained Lauren Cheney’s opening goal.

Tony DiCicco

Lauren Cheney says her ankle is now fine and it was an inspired performance by someone who probably could have taken the rest of the season off after the World Cup injury and no one could have complained.

Lauren Cheney

Meghan Klingenberg, who waited patiently for the media a month ago when I was here, only to get pre-empted by Alex Morgan and others, is just happy to be playing somewhere. I also teased “Kling” (that’s what Cheney calls her, so good enough) about “Winning Isn’t Everything”, a documentary on North Carolina women’s soccer that I show to my high school team every year that prominently features Klingenberg, then a freshman. She had a great match tonight.

Meghan Klingenberg

Finally, Leslie Osborne, who played her holding midfield spot as well as anyone can today, at least in the first half. Strange that she slipped in something about this being possibly “the end”. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean the league is in more trouble than we think (and most of us think it’s in some degree of trouble, obviously).

Leslie Osborne

Thanks for joining us. And we might see you in Philadelphia at some point.

 

 

The One In Which Abby Wambach Saves the Day

The Washington Freedom have proven yet again why they’re odds-on favorites to keep fourth place. Jim Gabarra’s team were outplayed in the first half of the their tilt with peers Sky Blue FC. The Freedom were unable to hold possession and struggled to find a groove. The team was resigned to hoping that Sonia Bompastor’s scarily accurate passes out of the back would trouble Sky Blue FC’s defense. But SBFC’s back four (particularly captain Christie Rampone, who seems to be settling into full match fitness) held up strong.

A terrible defensive error from the Freedom gifted SBFC with a chance in the 29’, as Tasha Kai executed a perfectly-weighted chip over Ashlyn Harris. It was a fitting reward for SBFC’s competent first half.

But the Freedom returned to the field in the second half with renewed character. Homare Sawa entered the game and gave the Freedom the advantage in midfield. Sky Blue FC’s fourth goalkeeper this season Meghann Burke replaced Jenni Branam who went down with a leg injury in the first half. Abby Wambach was breaking free and tested Burke with several well-taken shots from close range. But Burke was up for the challenge.

The Freedom wasn’t making any headway until Burke was called for a penalty in the 79’. Wambach hit the ground in a heap and earned her a team a chance to send things level. Wambach blasted in her 11th goal of the season as Burke stood no chance. These two sides have taken draws from their previous three meetings and this looked no different. But in 84’, Allie Long threaded a pass into the feet of Wambach who rattled the post with her initial shot but the ball eventually snuck its way into the net. It was her 12th of the season which now ties her with Amy Rodriguez for second-most goals in the league.

The Freedom had staged a remarkable comeback, lifting the team into sole possession of fourth place.

It was another disappointing result from Sky Blue FC who seemed to be totally overwhelmed by the Freedom’s second-half pressure. Sky Blue FC still have one additional game to play compared to the Freedom but by then will it be in vain?

Pauliina Miettinen Sacked By Sky Blue FC

WPS has had its second coaching casualty of the 2010 season as Sky Blue FC has announced that it has parted ways with manager Pauliina Miettinen. Assistant coach Anne Parnila will also leave the Piscataway team.

This was the Finnish native’s first season with the 2009 defending WPS champions. Miettinen had posted a 5-6-3 record during her time as head coach.

The team had managed just two wins in its previous nine games. Sky Blue FC have also failed to score in its last three matches.  Despite some key injuries, the team has seemingly sat stagnant while other WPS teams beneath them continue to gain speed.

Former assistant coach Rick Stainton has been promoted to the position of head coach. Stainton served as administrator of the women’s soccer program at Seton Hall University.

Miettinen’s exit, along with Emma Hayes’ dismissal from the Chicago Red Stars earlier thsi season, leaves the league with zero female head coaches.

 

Thoughts?

 

This surprises me a bit to be honest but then I’m seemingly always suprised by the coaches that end up getting the sack as well as the coaches who are spared. But those last three results have been pretty poor performances.

Miettinen also never seemed to figure out the team’s offense. Sky Blue FC were one of the few teams left in WPS that lacked a true identity. The paucity of goals, the revolving door of forwards and the constant tinkering with various systems are indicators of this.

At least Stainton knows this team already. He knows the players, he knows the club. Perhaps he knows what did and did not work under Miettinen.

With the rise of both Boston and Chicago and the gradual decline of Washington, it’s gotten ultra-competitive for teams in the bottom 3/4’s of the table. This was probably the right time to make a change. 

And if not Christie Rampone is always available. 

Sky Blue FC Meets the President…Of the United States

(Photo by Howard Smith/ISIPhotos.net)

 

No snark from me for this one. This is actually pretty cool. Particularly this quote from the President about the team’s 2009 season:

 

““This team came together when it counted,” said President Obama about Sky Blue FC’s last-to-first run during the 2009 season. “No matter what obstacles they faced, no matter what disappointments and distractions they had to deal with, they had each other’s backs, and they stayed focused on their ultimate goal.  That’s what teams do.  They work hard.  This team loves being an underdog, and in the end, that made all the difference.”

 

Jessica Landstrom Leaves SBFC, Burns Bridges Along the Way

Swedish striker Jessica Landstrom has left Sky Blue FC by “mutual consent” and has joined FFC Frankfurt of the Frauen Bundesliga. She has reportedly signed a “lucrative two-year deal” with the club.

Frankfurt also has the likes of Birgit Prinz, Nadine Angerer, Kerstin Garafrekes and American Ali Krieger. The club has a known rivalry with Turbine Potsdam and have won six Frauen Bundesliga titles this decade, all over a period of just seven years. They finished 3rd last season.

And it looks as if we have our first bit of coach/player dramz of the 2010 WPS season. In an interview with Swedish publication FotbollsExpressen, Landstrom says, “The decision to leave Sky Blue is also influenced by the fact that I had not known or trusted by the coach who also demonstrated a lack of leadership in general”.

Admittedly, iGoogle Swedish to English translations may leave some nuances lost in translation but that sounds like a pretty harsh idictment of head coach Paulinna Miettinen. Whichever you contort her quote to make it sound somewhat understandable, it still stings.

Regardless of Landstrom’s thoughts, it was fairly obvious that she simply never fit into the set-up in Piscataway anyway. At times she appeared immobile and indecisive and was never a solid option up top, particularly when Tasha Kai was injured.

If Landstrom can succeed in Germany, it will speak volumes to the difference between the two leagues. The two are typically referred to as being the strongest women’s football leagues in the world. Some commentators see the Frauen Bundesliga as being more about technique while WPS is typified as having players with both physicality and flair.

Hopefully Landstorm can find success in Frankfurt, as it certainly didn’t seem to end well in New Jersey.

Sky Blue FC Does A Number On FC Gold Pride and WPS Standings

It wasn’t necessarily a game for the purists but it didn’t need to be. Sky Blue FC came away with a pretty big road win with the help of a rocket header from Rosana and a ‘how the hell did Barnhart concede that?’ from ‘tasha Kai.

The game featured few scoring opportunities. Perhaps it was the heat (apparently Pioneer Stadium sits at the bottom of a basin kind of thing and it just traps heat like the bottom rack of your oven does) or maybe the players’ minds were elsewhere (like who’ll get picked in Marta and Abby’s XI or what the Prez will be like).

In the first half, Sky Blue FC were content to just sit back and gobble up the attacking threats of O’Hara, Marta and Sinclair. In the 20′ minute, Yael Averbuch found Laura Kalmari open in the box with acres of space. But Kalmari’s left foot was apparently still in Finland as she conspired to totally miss an open net.

The match seemed destined to end 0-0. It probably would have if FC Gold Pride’s defense was able to hold up in the second half. In the 58′, Heather O’Reilly served up a cross into the box and it was met by a thunderous Rosana diving header. Nicole Barnhart was caught completely off-guard, as was Rosana herself probably.

Then in the 88′, Jessica Landstrom’s pass got tangled up in Candace Chapman’s feet and the ball rolled into the direction of ‘tasha Kai who appeared to have mis-hit her shot until it somehow managed to nestle into the far side of the net. Who knows how Barnhart could have let that thing roll in as it didn’t carry a ton of pace on it, nor did it change direction in mid-flight a la the much-abused Jabulani ball.

So 2-0 to the girls of New Jersey. Sky Blue FC now leap-frogs the Washington Freedom for third place in the standings. The Independence remain just a point away from catching FC Gold Pride in first place.

Moreover, just 10 points separate the top 5 teams in WPS. That’s parity if you were ever wondering. FC Gold Pride will need to come up big away against a resurgent Atlanta Beat team next Saturday. That will also be just three days after the All-Star Game so Atlanta will be well-rested. The Philadelphia Independence meet the Boston Breakers the following day so tally 3 points for the Cheesesteaks there.

Could we see a new #1 team in WPS this time next week? If so we’ll have Sky Blue FC to thank.