Monthly Archives: June 2010

5 Questions for the All-Star Game

5.) Will There Be Any More Injuries?

This will remain blank because the answer needs to be a curt ‘no’.

 

4.) How Will Erin McLeod Fare?

McLeod looked shaky in practice yesterday. Barnhart is also on the roster but she injured her ankle in training yesterday. Hey, at least the players she’ll be facing are only so-so.

 

3.) Will Lauren Cheney Be OK In Midfield?

Cheney looked to fit perfectly in Abby’s XI midfield yesterday. She held the ball up nicely for Wambach and Aluko and in basketball language, was good at setting up posts. Perhaps Paul Riley has discovered that she’s actually a creator and not a finisher. Or maybe she’s both.

 

2.) Will Abby’s XI Look As Unified As They Did In Training?

Paul Riley had his players do just a few minutes of drills before he recognized they were ready to start battling it out. Albertin Montoya’s United Nations could be ok by dint of its individual talent alone.   

 

1.) Goals.

There will be goals. The question is how many. And how often. And who will score them. 11-10 please.

An Interview With Paul Riley

Philadelphia Independence coach Paul Riley has guided his team all the way to second place in the standings. His efforts were rewarded with being named coach of Abby’s XI. Here he talks about his impressions of the team, what he thinks of A-Rod’s recent success, why the Independence have the best chemistry in the league and what the future holds for his beloved Liverpool FC.

 

AWK: Your passing and movement has looked fantastic. Is that part of your coaching philosophy?

PR: I think that you do off the ball is more important than what you do with the ball so if you can take care of the ball when you have it then you get a good combination. Players make X’s and O’s so if you’ve got good players who are technically good which we do obviously because these are the best players in the world, then it makes things easier for a coach. It’s almost like pick a team, roll the dice, and then see the fear in your enemies’ eyes.

 

AWK: I was amazed to see how quickly Abby’s XI adjusted to your system and your philosophy. It honestly looked like they’ve been playing together for a year.

It’s amazing because you come from Philly and you think you know, it’s going to be hard because it’s going to be like preseason again. But once you started doing the drilled they were like flying. Everyone’s peeling out, checking in, there was great movement and everyone had a lot of energy on the field. What I like about it is that they’re hungry, they want to win. There is a rivalry because there’s internationals on the other team so that will add a little bit of grit to the game. I’m not sure there’s enough defenders on the two squads. Very few.

 

AWK: I saw a lot of defenders making runs in and crossing. Did you tell them to do that?

PR: Well we’ve only got 3 in the back so we’re gonna play a 3-5-2. We’re gonna let them run around. The question is whether we’ll get caught out as the other team has 3 in the front.

 

AWK: Do you know what two players are playing up top?

PR: I’m going with Abby and Aluko.

 

AWK: I saw Cheney in the midfield which is good because she can hold the ball up really well.

JP: We showed you our patent with the two up front. Then the triangle behind them and then two players which will be O’Reilly and Chalupny. So hopefully we can get in good areas and cause problems. Their three will cause our three some problems in the back but Chalupny and O’Reilly will need to help us out at the back and give us some structure as I think we’ll be struggling a little bit.

To be honest, the girls want to play so badly. It’s a great environment and they picked the right place to play. Practice was great. Because you come down and you wonder if they like each other, you don’t know. Me and Abby have had our battles on the sideline when they play us but it’s all in professional. We’re both on the same team so we both have the same goal.

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An Interview With Becky Sauerbrunn

The Washington Freedom defender will help hold down the back line of Marta’s XI in tonight’s All-Star Game. She discusses what makes Marta’s XI unique, why the Freedom concede late sometimes and why she looks forward to playing alongside Marta.

 

AWK: Do you know if Albertin’s playing with a 3 back system?

BS: It was picked so that teams could play in a 3-5-2 but our team somehow has more defenders than the other team.

 

AWK: I saw a lot of defenders making over-lapping runs and helping out in the attack.

BS: Yeah, I think some of are going to be midfielders too which would be really interesting.

 

AWK: What’s the main difference between Montoya’s style to [Freedom Coach] Jim Gabarra’s?

BS: It’s hard right now because this was kind of a fun, ‘get to know you’ practice but we actually did a lot of similar things. Small-sided possession, small-sided games, crossing, finishing, that kind of stuff. Technical stuff with just a little variation from what Jim does but not a huge difference at all.

 

AWK: So how has your team gelled so far?

BS: We definitely have more international players on our team so that’s going to make it a little more fun because everyone’s a little different and has their own style of soccer so it should be very entertaining.

 

AWK: Ok, so please don’t be offended by this question, but what the hell happened this past weekend against Philadelphia?

BS: As was seen in the Chicago game a week before, we get a lead in the first half and then we just can’t protect it. So there’s need be a mentality change or just some kind of shift in how we’re playing or what we’re thinking in the second half.

 

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An Interview With Ramona Bachmann

The Swiss forward is probably one of the most electrifying players in WPS. Good thing she doesn’t need to travel far to add some of her flair to Marta’s XI. Here she talks about the baby of WPS, the difference between Sweden and the U.S. and what’s it like being away from home.

 

AWK: What have your impressions been so far of what Albertin’s been doing?

RB: It’s a lot of fun. There are so many good players. I’m enjoying it a lot. My goal is to be the best in the world and I can learn a lot from all these players.

 

AWK: What’s it like being the youngest athlete player here?

RB: Yeah, I’m the youngest in the league and I like it. I like to be the young player who wants to be the next big star so I enjoy it.

 

AWK: Do you know if you’re going to play the #10 role or are you going to be up top?

RB: I think I’m going to play forward but I don’t know. Maybe left or right.

 

AWK: How have you enjoyed Atlanta so far? The stadium’s beautiful.

RB: I love it here. It’s just a little bit too hot sometimes though.

 

AWK: Is it very different from Switzerland?

RB: Yeah, it is. The air is much different. It can be hot in Switzerland, but not like this.

 

AWK: So what’s the biggest difference between the Damallsvenskan and WPS?

RB: I think the players are better individual players. In Sweden it’s more about technical ability and about defending with the whole team. Here it’s more about show.

 

AWK: Do you miss Switzerland or are you home here?

RB: Sometimes. My family’s there and my friends so I’m fine here too.

Bardsley's Tragic Blow To A Terrific Season

Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley looked wonderful when she was in goal yesterday during Marta XI’s team practice. She commanded her area well despite playing behind new defenders and made several reflex saves on low crosses. She also came up with a thunderous double save on Sonia Bompastor, somehow contorting her torso to block the rebound shot.

Minutes later she sauntered off nursing her shoulder, appearing considerably concerned. It turned out to be a symbolic sight for the goalkeeper who has had an outstanding season up to this point. Fantastic start, awful finish.

It looks to be over now, as Jeff Kassouf reports that Bardsley will miss 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone. That essentially amounts to the rest of 2010 season.

Karen Bardsley has been one of WPS’ brightest breakouts this season. The Cal State Fullerton alum started only a handful of games for Sky Blue FC last season before being sidelined due to back spasms. Jenni Branam stepped in and guided the team to the inaugural WPS Championship a few months later.

It appeared as if Branam was still the preferred #1 but she broke her leg in a friendly against a boy’s team just weeks before the start of the 2010 season. (Weird how Sky Blue’s #1′s only get injured in meaningless games).

Karen Bardsley got the call-up and performed admirably in goal. She currently leads the league in both least goals conceded and in most shut-outs as she earned her fifth in a 2-0 victory against FC Gold Pride last weekend.

She has also been a consistent barrier in a Sky Blue FC defense that can be a little shifty sometimes. The back four has been a revolving door as there seems to be a new face back there nearly every match.

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Boston Breakers Waive Michelle Enyeart, Chioma Igwe and Tiffany Weimer

 The Boston Breakers have decided to waive Michelle Enyeart (who has been sidelined with a knee injury for the 2010 season), Chioma Igwe (who has started six games for the Breakers this season) and Tiffany Weimer.

Weimer has arguably been one of the league’s most recognizable faces, particularly in terms of the social media circuit. Tiffany has a noted presence on Twitter which has gained the respect of many WPS followers. She also spear-headed the launch of Our Game Magazine.

There’s a certain WPS team who could use additional up front to help complement the attributes of an already-capable striker.

 

The Breakers organization has recognized that the team must undergo a change, as they’re still seeking their first win since Week one. This is perhaps not the change most Breakers fan were hoping for, however.

What Should We Expect Out Of Tomorrow's All-Star Game?

For one thing, goals. The event’s running joke thus far is the American football score line expected tomorrow evening. Can we get a 7-3 or a 10-7 perhaps? It’s no secret that both Marta’s XI and Abby’s XI are engineered to attack. That’s why only 6 defenders were eligible to become All-Stars in this year’s ballot process. Because everyone loves the 3-5-2 formation. Hopefully it will serve the WPS All-Stars better than it did Chile in the World Cup. But assuredly Hope Solo, Amy LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler will have something to say about that.

In this afternoon’s training session, Paul Riley and Albertin Montoya had their respective teams cramming numbers into the box in hopes of seeing the ripple of the net. Heck, even Amy LePeilbet got in on the action as she attempted a long-range shot or two. Riley is certainly encouraging his defenders to attack as he said, “They asked me if I wanted them to stay home but I said no, go out and express yourselves.”

Aside from Eniola Aluko, Karen Carney and Laura Kalmari, Riley’s Abby’s XI is composed of mostly American players. Perhaps that’s why they looked so cohesive after just about 30 minutes of practice. The players’ passing was crisp, their runs were well-timed, their crosses were generally excellent (particularly Lori Chalupny’s) and their movement off the ball was a sight to behold. Both Hope Solo and Jillian Loyden were just as good as they showed aggressiveness not typically observed in practice sessions.

The players seemed to flourish under Coach Riley’s unique style of management. He was at times playful, very methodical and always positive. He expects the most out of his players but yet still loves them even if they don’t deliver. After Lori Lindsey misplaced a pass in midfield Riley joked, “I’ve never seen that before!”

 

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Back In Business

SORRY. After an extended stay in the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and with the help of a chicken farmer and his family (literally. it’s a great story), I’m here in Atlanta.

 

There’s a lot to get to so please be patient. Some quick notes:

 

  •  KB sustained an injury in training today. She was going out for a cross and someone came in and did a number on her shoulder. She had a lump of ice on her shoulder and seemed a bit concerned.  

 

  • The Atlanta Beat stadium exceeds all expectations.

 

  • Shannon Boxx is much taller and svelte-er in person. This probably comes as a suprise to no one but me.

 

  • Lauren Cheney will play as a central midfielder in Abby’s XI while LePeilbet, Ellertson and Whitehill will hold down the back line.

 

  • Abby’s XI seems to be playing a 3-5-2 while Marta’s XI could be a 4-4-2 or something like that but who knows.

 

  • The players seem buoyant and genuinely excited to be here. It’s also fantastic to watch them play.

 

  • Lastly, Ramona Bachmann is NOT dating Bojan Krkic. Shaaame.

Pia Sundhage Names 24 Players to USWNT Roster For Sweden Friendlies

Here’s the preliminary roster for the two friendlies against Sweden on July 13th in Omaha, Nebraska and on July 17th in East Hartford, Connecticut.

 

GK:

Solo, Barnhart, Loyden

 

Defenders:

Buehler, Cox, Krieger, LePeilbet, Markgraf, Mitts, Rampone, Schnur

 

Midfielders:

Boxx, Huffman, Lilly, Lindsey, Lloyd, Long, O’Reilly, Rapinoe

 

Forwards:

Cheney, Morgan, O’Hara, Rodriguez, Wambach

 

There aren’t too many surprises in the player selection here. Only two players were omitted from the final roster of the Germany friendly (Averbuch and Taylor).

Heck yes to the call-up of Sarah Huffman. And her teammate Allie Long. It would be interesting to see The Huff in a 4-5-1 formation sitting behind HAO, Boxx, Lindsey and Lilly but something tells me that Pia will likely stick with her preferred 4-4-2 and play two central midfielders (Boxx and perhaps Lloyd if she’s fit?). It’s certainly worked in the past.

Also, nice to see Kelley O’Hara get a shout. That’s a lot of L’s in that midfield.