Category Archives: Sonia Bompastor

Olympics – The All-Curren Team: Trying To Pick The Best 18 Not Easy

Well, here we are again, the end of another major women’s tournament, and time again for the AWK All-Curren Team. I call it that not out of a massive ego, but to indicate that it is indeed my choices and opinions. I point that out up front because for some reason choosing the best team from the Olympics was even tougher than the World Cup, even though there were fewer teams.

As with the World Cup, I sought to put together a real squad, one that could actually play (as opposed to starting nine forwards where we could score at will, but might end up playing Marta and Alex Morgan at outside back) a legitimate match.

And as always, feel free to put your choices in the Comments. Just remember, if you put someone in, someone has to come out and vice versa.

Among the players who barely missed the cut:

  • Portia Modise (South Africa), who had the goal of the tournament, and was very active in midfield for South Africa, who had their moments. Not enough moments for her to make the 18, though.
  • Renata Costa (Brazil) had a very good tournament defensively despite her team’s lack of organization.
  • Ali Riley and Ria Percival (New Zealand) might have cancelled each other out, as the entire New Zealand defense, including Jenny Bindon and Katie Hoyle, had a great tournament.
  • Two players who barely missed the cut at the World Cup did so again here in  Louisa Necib (France), who got off to a good start, but held the ball a little too long in some key spots for my taste, and Yukari Kinga (Japan), who was just edged out.
  • Lotta Schelin (Sweden), who probably suffered from a lack of support more than her failings.
  • And, perhaps the last cut, Yuki Ogimi (Japan), who scored three times in the tournament, including in the final, but in a tournament loaded with attacking players, we just couldn’t find a spot for her this time around. Next time.

So without further ado, here’s the squad:

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Major Changes Afoot In Washington As Bompastor and Gabarra Depart

Offseason changes are inevitable in sports but it appears as if the Washington Freedom are wasting little time.

After months of speculation, French midfielder/outside back Sonia Bompastor has reportedly rebuffed her 2011 option with the Washington Freedom and is set to return to former club Olympique Lyonnais. The move comes off the heels of French national teammate Camille Abily’s transfer to the same French Feminine 1 Division side.

In an article with French website La Nouvelle Republique, Bompastor reveals that the decision did not come easy. She had previously fallen out with then-head coach Farid  Benstiti and administrative director Marino Faccioli. The conflict presumably arose when both Bompastor and Abily decided to take part in WPS’ inaugural 2009 season. Their decision did not sit well with the Lyon brass and they reportedly sued the players for €500,000 for “damages to the sport and image”.

Bompastor also stated that she was lured by offers from Paris St. Germain, for whom she was loaned to in the 2010 WPS offseason. Olympique Lyon won out, however, and Bompastor’s decision was influenced by the fact that new coach Patrice Lair was helming the club. She also stated that she would likely see out her final years as a professional with Lyon.

The prospect of playing alongside national team players in a World Cup year may also have been irresistible. It’s an issue that might become a theme this WPS offseason, as European players could very well be enticed to return home. Abily and Bompastor were amongst the first European players to join WPS when it launched and blazed the trail for others to follow. Are they going to set another trend?

There is also the temptation of UEFA Champions League glory. Lyon are the best European women’s club team outside of Germany. Lyon have won the Feminine 1 Division in four consecutive years. They have also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 before appearing in the 2009-2010 Final where they lost to Turbine Potsdam in penalties.

Club President Jean-Michel Aulas has not been shy in revealing the team’s ambitions of winning the Champions League. The club are arguably the biggest spenders in international women’s football. The squad has been bolstered by the likes of Camille Abily (fresh off a 2010 WPS Championship) and 21 year-old striker Eugenie Le Sommer from Stade Briochin, who was the French league’s top scorer last season.

Lyon are currently tied in first with Saint-Etienne in the Feminine 1 Division after three matches played. They will try to protect their 100% record when they travel to take on last season’s runners-up Jusivy this coming weekend.

From a personal standpoint, it’s very sad to see WPS lose a player of Sonia Bompastor’s standard. I still hold true to the notion that Sonia was the most technically gifted player in WPS. She made simplicity look sublime and the extraordinary look effortless. She was a major cog in the Washington Freedom and her masterful passing ability, tenacity, perseverance and overall class will be missed sorely.

One can not begrudge either Bompastor or Abily for wanting to make the move. I was privileged enough to witness the players’ personal friendship first hand and it comes as little surprise that they would like to attain European glory together as teammates, as compatriots and as friends.

WPS will struggle to find a suitable replacement for Sonia Bompastor. Perhaps because there isn’t one.

 

 

(Thanks to Charles for the initial tip)

 

Today the Freedom also announced the resignation of head coach Jim Gabarra. Gabarra began his career with the club back in August 2000. He led the team to the WUSA Founder’s Cup in 2003 and the W-League Championship in 2007.

Given his tenure and success with the Freedom organization (two playoff appearances and one title in WUSA, two playoff appearances in WPS), the resignation is certainly surprising. The Freedom had a calamitous dip in form this past summer and failed to find a win in 10 consecutive matches. Gabarra remained but long-time assistant Clyde Watson walked. Former Red Stars head coach Emma Hayes was appointed as “soccer consultant for the interim period”.

The team then bucked up (much to the inspiring play of Ashlyn Harris and Abby Wambach) and went on to collect 14 points out of a possible 21. The total was good enough to earn a return postseason appearance (the Freedom were the only team that appeared in the WPS in both 2009 and 2010). The Freedom’s championship dreams were vanquished in the First Round, however, by Amy Rodriguez’s goal in the final minute of extra time.

FC Gold Pride, the Philadelphia Independence and the Boston Breakers now stand as the only WPS three teams that have yet to make a change at the head coach position. They are also the three highest finishers in WPS this season. The Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC, the Atlanta Beat and now the Washington Freedom have all parted with their respective head coaches in 2010.

Perhaps the team’s poor summer run had permanently soured the relationship between Gabarra and the Freedom organization. It seems as if Gabarra’s time had run its course with the team.

With the departures of both Sonia Bompastor and Jim Gabarra, the Washington Freedom are now in a period of transition. It will be interesting to see how one of the most storied clubs in women’s soccer (here in the U.S. at least) will cope in the face of change.

Previewing the 2010 Washington Freedom

We continue up the table with the Washington Freedom. Please check out the Sky Blue FC’s preview here, the Boston Breakers’ here, the Chicago Red Stars‘ and for FC Gold Pride. 

 

           The Washington Freedom of 2009 suffered from a bit of Brett Favre syndrome. And no, the squad wasn’t composed of 22 indecisive divas. Favre’s gunslinger status is legendary and is embodied in having thrown the most touchdown passes in NFL history. His erratic throws were also legendary, however, as he also holds the record for most interceptions thrown.  

          And in true Favre fashion, the Freedom were the most explosive team in offensive categories and yet the most fallible team in goal, allowing 1.6 a match which was a league-worst. The Freedom’s shoddy defense was their Achilles’ heel but it was often negated by their brilliance in front of goal. Led by the talis(wo)manic Abby Wambach, the fleet-footed Aussie Lisa de Vanna and the indispensible playmaker Sonia Bompastor, the Freedom scored more goals than anyone else in WPS with 1.6 a match. They finished a strong third last year and sailed to the playoffs before being vanquished by the streaking Sky Blue FC at home.

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