6.) Will This Finally Be Atlanta’s Week?
It’s tough to argue against a record that features two losses and a goalless draw. That’s good enough for last place in this league. But alas, here I am arguing: the Atlanta Beat are better than that. Why? Simple: they’re a good team. With good players. Like their goalkeeper. She’s really quite good (even if her record doesn’t necessarily show it. But nevermind actual facts and stats). And Ramona Bachmann. She’s also fairly decent. Plus the fact that the Beat have actually frequently outplayed their opponents, despite scoring fewer goals than said opponents. Which doesn’t help. The loss of Tobin Heath may hurt them but one could possibly argue that Heath was a step behind anyway after missing all of preseason. This is the Beat’s final road game before making its debut in its swanky new stadium. It would be kind of sad if they open their home campaign having not yet won a single match. So please Atlanta, let this be your week. And if not for the reasons mentioned above, then do it for Tobs. The kid’s had it rough these past few months.
5.) Or Will the Independence Continue to Impress?
Wait, wait, wait. The Beat are playing Philadelphia this weekend? Ok, scratch everything I mentioned above. This probably won’t be Atlanta’s week. As if it hasn’t been said already, Philalphia is a team loaded with serious promise, experience and fight. How many sides in this league can feasibly bounce back from going a goal down by scoring three unanswered goals in fifteen minutes? And judging by Philadelphia’s last two matches, the Independence appear to have every position on the pitch covered. Top-class goalkeeper, check. An excellent center back who also happens to be tied for the most goals scored in the league, check. A veteran fullback who is returning to tip-top form, check. A skipper who can break up play, score goals and assist in like every single Independence goal scored thus far, check. Two young and promising forwards who have seemed to develop their strike partnership together, check. A fierce Icelander who is eager to play in literally ever position and who has a name that’s even longer than ‘Philadelphia Independence’, check and check. Look for Philadelphia to keep up their wonderful form.
The Philadelphia Independence takes on the Atlanta Beat in Chester, Pennsylvania on Saturday at 6pm.
(As has been previously mentioned, Tobin Heath will be out for the Beat due to an ankle sprain)
4.) Can Abby Wambach Continue to Carry the Freedom?
Abby Wambach might as well be nicknamed The Reason. Why are the Freedom tied for first in goals per game at 5? Why has a single player assisted in every single one of those goals this season save for one? (And for the record, the one she didn’t assist? She scored it.) Why aren’t the Freedom further down the table? Why aren’t the Freedom just a completely mediocre, inconsistent team? The reason for all of these questions: Abby Wambach. But on the flipside, it’s 2009 all over again for Jim Gabarra in terms of his team’s defense. This is a defense that’s allowed the most goals per game and the most shots on goal. Washington will need to sort out its defensive deficiencies and Abby Wambach will need to continue to be the force of nature that she is if the Freedom want to earn a result against the Athletica.
3.) And Will Any DC United Fans Stick Around to See It?
Beau Dure made a request to DC United fans over at the Huffington Post on Wednesday, asking United fans to give WPS another shot this year. It was recently announced that RFK would be hosting the season’s only doubleheader on Saturday. And for the first time, the Freedom will be playing after DC United. This is probably the wrong time to ask if the idea of a WPS/MLS doubleheader is really even legitimate anymore or if there is even an overlap between DC United fans and Washington Freedom fans. These points were kind of answered last year but I guess we can always give it another go for at least two reasons: 1.) the Freedom has certainly had an attendance problem so far this season and perhaps anything that can stir a bit of interest in the team is a good thing and 2.) DC United are a poor team. They’ve scored just two goals in MLS this season in four matches. They’ll be facing the New York Red Bulls who are currently sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference table with a 5 point lead. Maybe, just maybe the better soccer played that afternoon will occur in the second game. …not saying anything else.
The Washington Freedom host the Saint Louis Athletica at RFK Stadium 6pm tomorrow.
(Brittany Bock has been listed as questionable and Brianna Scurry will be unavailable due to a head injury. For SLA Elaine, Sarah Wagenfuhr and Erin Walter will all be sidelined)
2.) Has Chicago Solved Its Scoring Conundrum?
Not to belabor the point or anything but Chicago hasn’t really scored a whole lot so far. Casey Nogueira has notched the Red Stars’ only goal in 2010. (It should also be mentioned that the Atlanta Beat has only scored two and that Sky Blue FC have only tallied three). But it’s not for lack of trying. Chicago actually lead the league in the most shots on average with 17 per game. The next highest average comes courtesy of Boston with 12.3, whom the Red Stars will be visiting tomorrow. Coach Emma Hayes has probably crammed every Red Stars practice this week with sessions on converting chances into goals. Kate Markgraf, Whitney Engen and Jillian Loyden can all probably finish like Fernando Torres now. Hopefully at least because if not, they might get educated in the art of scoring by the likes of Lauren Cheney and Kelly Smith. Kate Markgraf for a hat trick!
The Chicago Red Stars visit the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium tomorrow at 6pm.
(Kosovare Asllani will be unavailable due a rib injury and Jessica McDonald will also be unavailable again. Michelle Enyeart and Sarah Walsh will be unavailable for Boston)
1.) Which Striker Will Shine Would Have Shown Brighter: Christine Sinclair or ‘tasha Kai?
Tasha Kai will be sidelined due to a hamstring injury so nevermind. With Carli Lloyd and Meghan Schnur also not match fit, the advantage goes to FC Gold Pride. Who can step up in Kai’s absence? Landstrom? Kalmari? O’Reilly?
‘tasha Kai has scored 2/3rds of Sky Blue’s goals this year (literally). Christine Sinclair has also been in equally good form for FC Gold Pride. As in Washington, is Kai the only component preventing SBFC from being an ordinary team? A lot of parts seem to still be setting for Sky Blue but they certainly have the core of a very good team. And as for FC Gold Pride, its core has apparently already settled. There are plenty other tasty match-ups as Yael Averbuch could try to snuff out Camille Abily’s contributions and Kelley O’Hara will have to manage with Daphne Koster and then there’s the always-dynamic, stylish Brazilian doing what she can to spark an attack. Rosana, of course. But it could very well be a striker’s duel tomorrow with both Christine Sinclair and ‘tasha Kai racing to see who can score most. And fortunately it will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel. That’s two weeks in a row now that the marquee match-up of the weekend will actually be viewable from a television set. Well done to WPS, FSC and their respective crystal balls.
Sky Blue FC hosts FC Gold Pride in Piscataway, New Jersey tomorrow at 6pm.
(Unavailable: Solvieg Gulbrandsen for FCGP, Tasha Kai, Christie Rampone, Meghan Schnur, Carli Lloyd and Jenni Branam for SBFC)
Also, it will be genuinely nice to finally get to see Marta and Co. on TV. Hopefully they can live up to their billing.
|#||Team||MP||W||D||L||F||A||D||P||Last 5 matches|
|1||Gold Pride||3||2||0||1||5||4||+1||6||W W L|
|2||Sky Blue||3||2||0||1||3||3||+0||6||W L W|
|3||Philadelphia Independence||3||1||2||0||4||2||+2||5||W D D|
|4||St. Louis Athletica||3||1||2||0||4||2||+2||5||D D W|
|5||Boston Breakers||3||1||2||0||4||3||+1||5||D D W|
|6||Washington Freedom||3||1||0||2||5||6||-1||3||L W L|
|7||Chicago Red Stars||3||0||1||2||1||3||-2||1||L D L|
|8||Atlanta Beat||3||0||1||2||2||5||-3||1||D L L|