Monthly Archives: April 2010

6 Questions Entering WPS Week 4 (Updated 7:15 PM CT)

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 Previous rank: 4 Gold Pride 3 2 0 1 5 4 +1 6 W W L  
2 Previous rank: 5 Sky Blue 3 2 0 1 3 3 +0 6 W L W  
3 Previous rank: 6 Philadelphia Independence 3 1 2 0 4 2 +2 5 W D D  
4 Previous rank: 1 St. Louis Athletica 3 1 2 0 4 2 +2 5 D D W  
5 Previous rank: 2 Boston Breakers 3 1 2 0 4 3 +1 5 D D W  
6 Previous rank: 3 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 

 

 

 

Notables for April 29th, 2010

Apologies in advance if the frequency of updates gets a little erratic over the next two weeks. Finals and year-end stuff at work aren’t really conducive to all this.

Also due to my insolence neglect, the Fixtures page is going to be replaced with something exclusively WPS-related. In lieu of the page, I’ll be putting up schedules and results in Notables posts.

  • These are really part of yesterday’s new cycle (thanks college) but Tobin Heath will be out 4-6 weeks due to an ankle sprain. This rules her out of the upcoming WNT friendly against Germany next month. Tough break, kid.

 

  • Also, the Freedom will be playing their only doubleheader with DC United on Saturday against the Athletica. Do you think this can do something for the Freedom’s shocking attendance figures at the SoccerPlex?

 

  •  Check out Beau Dure’s request to DC United fans to come out and support the Freedom. It’s an interesting read and hopefully United fans will take notice.

 

  • Olympique Lyonnais drew 0-0 with Umea Ik in the UEFA Women’s Champion’s League Semifinal yesterday. Lyon advance on the 3-2 aggregate they earned in the first leg. Expect an Action Replay of this round of the UWCL sometime soon.

 

  • Former Sky Blue FC players Mele French and Kelly Parker have signed with the W-League’s Buffalo Flash.

 

  •  This is about a week late but Coach Jill Ellis and Sydney Leroux share their thoughts on the U-20 World Cup draw. The U-20′s will face Ghana, Switzerland and South Korea in Germany this July.

 

  • FIFA offers a fairly comprehensive monthly women’s round-up.

 

  • Guatemala have earned their spot in the Gold Cup. Nicaragua and Costa Rica face off tomorrow and the winner will presumably earn the final spot reserved for Central America.

 

  • Be sure to check out the weekly Women’s Podcast courtesy of Set Piece Analysts. Download it on iTunes.

 

  • Some mid-week European action: Turbine Potsdam destroyed Tennis Borussia 6-0 and Duisburg defeated Wolfsburg 4-0. Leeds Carnegie beat Blackburn 2-0 and Everton also beat Birmingham City 2-0.

 

  • Melanie Fitzgerald of USL’s W-League wonders about establishing a Women’s U.S. Open Cup. Let’s get it done!

 

  • Happy early birthday to Maggie Tomecka who turns 28 tomorrow.

 

Twitter Watch:

 

@AtlantaBeatGM Just went by the stadium. Seats are in, goals are going in & the videoboard is up (& is huge!). Place is looking incredible. Get tix today!

@LeslieOsborne12 I love my spring munchkin at Dunkin:) Practice, meeting and then some radio fun with @alexscott2! 2 days until our home game vs Chicago!

@emmahayes1 Just finished coaching call about officiating. Good to know we are working toward improving. Otherwise I will be grey b4 I know it.

@markgraf15 Traffic is such a waste of time. Heading 2 c SIL @ Chicago opera theatre.. Ughh. Dalmy, Ella, pinoe, kaz an I are experiencing some culture

 

Follow All White Kit on Twitter @jenna_awk

Color Commentary: Marta's Story Deserves to Be Told, But Who Deserves to Tell It?

By John Turnbull. Originally appeared on theglobalgame.com

 

A package of articles published Oct 5 on Brazilian Web portal Terra details the unique pressures facing Diego Graciano in promoting his biography of sensational 22-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva (see earlier articles, Sept 15 and 12 Sept 07).

The strains started accumulating during his Dec 04 research trip to Marta’s hometown, Dois Riachos, when natives incorporated Graciano into festivities surrounding the customary bingo games in the central square. Having returned from Sweden where she plays professionally for Umeå IK, Marta spoke tearfully to her home supporters. Graciano, to his surprise, was asked to follow. Before Marta, “her eyes full of water,” and many of her relations, he promised to complete the project—the first biography of a female soccer player in Brazil and likely in Latin America (Bruno Ceccon, “Biografia de Marta vira motivo de polêmica com escritor”).

He made good on the pledge. Graciano conducted 70 interviews and amassed 250 images from Marta’s life, including one-of-a-kind pictures from her tenure with an otherwise all-male youth side, Everton, and a photostat of her registration card for futebol de salão. He tells the Terra writer that he has spent nearly $7,000 on the project. He self-published 250 copies of the book, Você é mulher, Marta! (You Are a Woman, Marta!), in the summer and sent them to Brazilian journalists and other contacts in football.

The goal of taking Marta’s story to the masses has foundered in a local publishing landscape that shies from printing biographies of living celebrities without explicit authorization. Legal imbroglios surrounding publication of Roberto Carlos em Detalhes (Roberto Carlos in Detail) by Paulo Cesar de Araújo—a book about the singer, not the former defender for Real Madrid—and a Garrincha biography by Ruy Castro are cited as precedent. Yet Graciano has produced a document, which Marta is said to have signed 1 Mar 05, in which she promises to tell her story to him “on an exclusive basis.” In the text, she approves “work, research, studies, contacts and compilation of data and documents with a view to writing and publishing a book that constitutes the biography of the undersigned, writing and publication that is … now … authorized.”

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ATTN Pia Sundhage: Why Allison Falk Is Up For Your Consideration

           

             Good teams are built from the back, as the common saying goes. Following this logic the United States Women’s National Team is a pretty good team. Pia Sundhage’s back line is concentrated with the right mix of veterans (Heather Mitts, Cat Whitehill), dependable performers (Amy LePielbet, Rachel Buehler), players ready to adapt to a specific formation (Lori Chalupny, Marian Dalmy) and relative newcomers (Stephanie Cox, Meghan Schnur). But it would be impossible to mention the United States’ back four without acknowledging the contributions of two WNT staples: Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf. These two women continue to lead their respective clubs today, just as they had a generation ago.

            Both women have become new mothers recently. Kate Markgraf missed the entire 2009 season and Rampone is expected to return from maternity leave in May. Markgraf has bounced back well, but could probably do with a few more matches before returning to her optimal performance. There’s no saying how Rampone will fare when she returns after missing preseason. It also goes without saying that the average age of these two center backs is 35. Who knows, they may have a bit of the Kristine Lilly gene in that could keep them on the pitch for another five years.

            But in the meantime, there’s a young defender out there who is currently drafting a very nice sales pitch to Coach Sundhage as to why she should be seriously considered for the National Team. And sooner rather than later.

           Her name is Allison ‘Kirby’ Falk and not only has she been impenetrable in the center of defense for Philadelphia thus far, she has also headed in two goals off of Lori Lindsey free kicks in as many matches. She’s got height (six feet of it in fact), aerial ability, tactical nous and a silly nickname which makes her all the more likable. And she’s just 23 years old, which means she has many years to further develop her craft.

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Notables for April 27, 2010

  • Check out a recap of the weekend’s results courtesy of American Soccer Minute.

 

  • Lori Lindsey is the consensus WPS player of the week for Goal.com, The Equalizer and now the league. Here are reviews/power rankings from Goal.com, The Equalizer and the Bleacher Report.

 

  • Carli Lloyd has been placed on 30-day Injured Reserve after suffering an injury to her fibula on Sunday.

 

  • Still awaiting results from Tobin Heath’s MRI scans but fortunately her ankle is not broken.

 

  • You can watch every Red Stars match via webstream here

 

  • Lauren Cheney is filming something for Under Armour today.

 

  • Lyon’s Lotta Schelin has been ruled out of tomorrow UEFA Women’s Champions League Semifinal due to an ankle skrain.

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World Player of the Week for April 19th to 25th

Secondplace-nonwinners-honorablemention-firstrunnerup’s:

 

Camille Abily, FC Gold Pride - Orchestrated FC Gold Pride’s attack from the midfield in the absence of Christine Sinclair and (a fully fit) Marta. Also notched an assist in Gold Pride’s 2-1 victory over Atlanta. Her work for that team could be invaluable.

Ariane Hingst, FFC Frankfurt – Scored the equalizing goal against Turbine Potsdam from distance in the 86′. This allowed Birgit Prinz to score the game-winning penalty kick that resulted in Frankfurt’s surprising upset (although upsets are typically surprising, aren’t they).  

Natasha Dowie, Everton - Hit a hat trick for her Everton side against Bristol Academy in the Women’s Premier League. This vaulted Everton up to third place. 

Karen Bardsley, Sky Blue FC - Came up big against the Chicago Red Stars and prevented them from closing in on Sky Blue’s 1-0 lead with six saves. Huge improvement from last week.

Melanie Cayetano, Guatemala – The 20 year-old has scored 3 goals in 2 games for her country in Central American Gold Cup Qualifying thus far.

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6 Things Learned From WPS Week 3

6.) Anyone Can Score in This League

So maybe some of the big stars left their scoring boots at home this weekend (I promise to retire that metaphor soon) but there were some unlikely candidates willing to step up and make themselves known. For every ‘tasha Kai there was a Carolyn Blank (who started as a fullback before putting in a very productive shift in midfield yesterday). For every Lisa de Vanna there was a Kasey Moore, who looked just as much a natural center back as she did a central striker. Some other promising newcomers also tallied their first goals of the season in Monica Ocampo and Lianne Sanderson. And then there’s that striker in Philadelphia who has since equaled her total goal amount in 2009. Her name’s, ehm,  Amy right? (Well done, now let’s keep them coming).

 

5.) Everyone Can Score Except Any Player on the Red Stars, Apparently

From all indications, Chicago dominated Sky Blue FC for much of the match yesterday. But the Red Stars seemed to have difficulty breaking down Sky Blue’s ultra-defensive formation, which they perhaps adopted as a precautionary measure. Karen Bardsley also redeemed herself in goal from her shaky performance last week. Seriously, if Chicago can start finishing half of the chances they’ve either been gifted with or created, they would be one of the most dynamic teams in the league. They outshot Sky Blue 17 to 6 (but only put about a third of those shots on goal) and still lost 1-0. Emma Hayes seems to have everything clicking in her squad besides getting the ball across the goal line which is kind of important in this game.

 

4.) Atlanta Is Better Than Their Standings Suggest

I feel sympathy for Gareth O’Sullivan’s team. First they’re an expansion side that have to quickly overcome an inevitable learning curve if they want to compete. And then they won’t have a home game until May. Last week they performed quite admirably against a marvelous Abby Wambach-led Freedom side. Then yesterday they apparently gave FC Gold Pride quite a fight throughout the match and only lost all 3 points to a Carrie Dew at the death of the match. And just to add insult to injury, they are (likely) to lose Tobin Heath for an extended period of time due to an ankle injury. Despite all this, the Beat are better than their 1 point indicates. With talent like Ramona Bachmann, Monica Ocampo and Allison Whitworth, it’s only a matter of time before the Beat break out.

 

3.) FC Gold Pride Are As Good As Their Standing Suggests

There were some doubts cast over FC Gold Pride when entering the season. But fortunately Albertin Montoya’s side has proven impervious to the cynics and have seemed to really  believed in just how good this team can be. A quality of a great team is fighting back at the death and getting a result any way possible. Gold Pride have shown this quality in Carrie Dew’s last-gasp header last night. And without Sinclair and with an ineffective Marta who’s still nursing a bruised ankle. They may be tied for tops with Sky Blue FC but FC Gold Pride are the strongest team in the league at this juncture.

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The Anorak: Analyzing Week Three Attendance

The weather was uncooperative, but attendance figures were still a shade disappointing this weekend. The average attendance was 3,385 which is a 20% dip from last week’s average of 4,210. Every percentage difference saw a deficit as well. And well done to Saint Louis fans for coming out despite the ugly weather. The Athletica earned the highest attendance of the weekend.

It’s difficult to spot real trends or patterns so early. I think it’s good to just be patient for now and hope that numbers start to pick up as the season wears on.

 

Here are the figures:

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Athletica/Breakers Reaction, Player Ratings

It was a fairly drab, frustrating, messy and gloomy affair. And not only does that apply for Fenton, Missouri’s weather tonight but also for the respective offenses of both Saint Louis and Boston.

There were some bright spots in the match though, including some killer chances that were expertly squandered by both Hope Solo and Ashley Phillips (who is looking like one hell of a goalkeeper). There were also some good performances from unlikely candidates (Kacey Moore, Carolyn Blank, Gina DiMartino) and some disappointing performances from big names (Eniola Aluko, Lauren Cheney, Shannon Boxx for some stretches).

If anything the match proves how overwhelming Saint Louis’ midfield can be. Boston’s forward line and midfield looked limp at times but its defensive unit held up strong. Both teams alternated in who seemed to be more dominant throughout the match. Eniola Aluko was ultimately frustrated by the likes of LePielbet and Kacey, just as Lauren Cheney was neutralized by Kendall Fletcher and (a seemingly shove-happy) Tina Ellertson.

The water-logged pitch was more active and effective in the match than many of the players which is kind of a shame because if the ball was rolling properly and if there wasn’t a moat outside the six-yard box, we probably could have seen what these two teams could really do. Regardless, a 1-1 draw was probably just.  

Side note: What do you think the over/under is for chances that Tony DiCicco will receive some kind of fine for the comments he will inevitably make against referee Felisha Mariscal (if he hasn’t already)?

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European Update

Frauen Bundesliga

In perhaps the round’s most surprising result, FFC Frankfurt scored two late, late goals to defeat Turbine Potsdam 2-1. The win sends Frankfurt level with Duisburg (who demolished Saarbrucken 6-0) for second. Potsdam still remains atop the league with a 5 point lead, however. The bottom five teams in the table all lost again this weekend, with a combined total of 19 goals against.

 

#   Team MP W D L F A D P Last 5 matches  
1   Turbine Potsdam 19 16 2 1 74 14 +60 50  
2   FCR Duisburg 19 14 3 2 62 15 +47 45  
3   FFC Frankfurt 20 15 0 5 66 28 +38 45  
4   Bayern München 20 11 3 6 37 32 +5 36  
5   Wolfsburg 19 10 4 5 38 22 +16 34  
6   Bad Neuenahr 20 10 2 8 34 30 +4 32    
7   Hamburger SV 20 8 4 8 29 44 -15 28  
8   USV Jena 20 6 3 11 28 49 -21 21    
9   Essen-Schönebeck 20 3 6 11 24 56 -32 15  
10   Saarbrücken 20 3 4 13 24 52 -28 13  
11   Freiburg 20 4 0 16 13 47 -34 12  
12   Tennis Borussia 19 1 3 15 14 54 -40 6  

 

Topscorers

Player Team G PG FG
I. Grings FCR Du… 27 1 7
A. Mittag Turbin… 17 0 5
Genoveva Añonma USV Jena 15 0 10
F. Bajramaj Turbin… 15 0 6
K. Garefrekes FFC Fr… 14 0 5
C. Okoyino Bad Ne… 14 0 7
M. Müller Wolfsburg 12 0 6
N. Kessler Turbin… 11 0 3
C. Pohlers FFC Fr… 10 0 2
P. Wimbersky FFC Fr… 10 0 1
B. Prinz FFC Fr… 9 2 3
A. Crnogorcevic Hambur… 8 0 6
V. Bürki Bayer… 8 0 1
J. Zietz Turbin… 8 2 2
S. Laudehr FCR Du… 7 0 1

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