Monthly Archives: May 2011

Six Things That Happened in WPS Week Eight

Form chart shows teams’ last five results.

 

The WNY Flash could be this year’s Los Angeles Sol and FC Gold Pride…but better.

Aaran Lines’ side proved once more why the Flash remain the only undefeated team in WPS. The Flash retained a one goal advantage over the Philadelphia Independence even as both sides fought fatigue into the second half. Neither team showed their true attacking potential as the team’s respective defenses had the most say over the match. Marta’s penalty in the 23rd minute broke the 1-1 deadlock and gave the Flash its sixth win of the campaign. Kandace Wilson, McCall Zerboni, and goal-scorer Becky Edwards continue to show fine form, and could be the players to watch this summer as the World Cup looms large.

So how does the Flash compare to previous runaway regular season champions the L.A. Sol and FC Gold Pride? In certain ways, Western New York are simply incomparable – and in the best way possible. After seven games, both the Sol and FC Gold Pride had scored eight goals each. The Flash have already scored 18 goals within the same amount of time. And then there’s this…both the Sol and FC Gold Pride took a total of 15 points from a maximum 21. The Flash? The team has only dropped one point all season, taking 20 out of 21 points.

Form chart: W W W W D

Next game: Friday, June 3 at home to Sky Blue FC

 

Sky Blue FC continue to ascend.

Sky Blue FC rebounded from its first victory of the season last weekend with a 2-1 win over the Boston Breakers on Saturday. Wet weather conditions, an injury to vaunted striker Adriana, and a goal by Kelley O’Hara (her first in a Breakers shirt) could have put a damper on the proceedings. However, Sky Blue stormed back to claim victory. In the 58th minute, Eniola Aluko completed a run and converted the game-drawing goal. With just two minutes left in regular time, Therese Sjogran assumed the playmaker role once more and found Carolyn Blank who promptly notched the game winning goal. The win puts Sky Blue FC level on points with the Boston Breakers. Impending USWNT call-up’s isn’t likely to do as much damage to Sky Blue FC as it would to other teams around the league. That could mean that the New Jersey outfit should continue to climb up the standings.

Form chart: W W L L L

Next game: Friday, June 3 away to the WNY Flash

 

magicJack remain on the prowl…for now.

magicJack recovered from the team’s frustrating 3-0 loss against the Flash last weekend by trouncing the Atlanta Beat 4-0 in West Palm Beach Boca Raton. Abby Wambach netted her first hat-trick in league history with goals in the 9th, 67th, and 89th minutes. The team retain sole possession of second place, but could find its upcoming fixtures tricky as USWNT players will now be absent from the team until the World Cup ends. Dan Borislow’s club stands to lose seven key players to national team duty. Johanna Rasmussen, Omolyn Davis, and Lydia Vandenbergh made appearances against Atlanta. All three – plus Christen Press and Nikki Marshall – will likely need to find their scoring boots now.

Form chart: W L W W W

Next game: Sunday, June 5 away to the Boston Breakers

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WPS Team News – Week Eight

MagicJack (3-1-0, 8 pts.) vs Atlanta Beat (1-5-1, 4 pts.) – Saturday, 7 PM EST

It’s anybody’s guess as to how MagicJack will respond to last week’s 3-0 defeat at league leaders Western New York. The biggest talking point is midfielder Shannon Boxx showing up on the injured list as questionable, a designation that will likely have USWNT coach Pia Sundhage sweating going into the weekend. Fellow USWNTer Christie Rampone looks sufficiently recovered from a groin injury to be on the active roster. Whether she’s healthy enough for ninety minutes or even starting duties is up in the air. Rookie Meghan Klingenberg has been dropped from the active roster while fellow first-year player Omolyn Davis is active for the first time in 2011. Brett Maron is preferred to Jillian Loyden as the team’s reserve goalkeeper, while Sophie Schmidt is one of a handful of MagicJack players still waiting for debuts. That list includes winger Johanna Rasmussen, still bizarrely rooted to the bench thus far in the campaign.

MagicJack (from) – Solo (GK), Ellertson, Sauerbrunn, Schnur, Dalmy, Huffman, Moros, Marshall, Press, Wambach, Masar, Maron (GK), Rampone, De Vanna, Rasmussen, White, Vandebergh, Davis, Boxx

The upheaval in Atlanta continue in earnest this week with the Beat trading away two 2012 draft picks for WNY Flash reserves Kelly Parker and Julianne Sitch. The experienced duo look set to come into the lineup from the start, with Parker likely to begin in attack while Sitch takes root in midfield. The clock is ticking on Heather Mitts’ chances at making the final USWNT World Cup roster as the full-back misses out again through injury this weekend. Mitts’ absence means it’s likely that Analisa Marquez continues in the starting lineup once again. India Trotter and Katie Bethke are dropped entirely from the traveling roster despite starting last weekend, while Lauren Sesselmann has also missed the cut for the group traveling down to Boca Raton. Lori Chalupny was forced to go off injured at the half last weekend, but all indications are that the Beat captain has been given the green light for this weekend. In her last match before the World Cup, Carli Lloyd is likely to start after coming on at the half for the Beat last weekend.

Atlanta Beat (from) – Lipsher (GK), Marquez, Dowling, Whitehill, Reynolds, Sitch, Lloyd, Chalupny, Patterson, Jesolva, Parker, Whitworth (GK), Lenczyk, Wright, D’Agostino, Salem
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Olympique Lyonnais Affirm Rising Star Status with First UEFA Women’s Champion’s League Victory

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Olympique Lyonnais scored a goal in each half to secure victory in the 2011 UEFA Women’s Champions League final against defending champions Turbine Potsdam.

Lyon’s offensive firepower proved to be too much for a Turbine Potsdam side looking to repeat as UEFA Women’s Champions League titleholders after managing to see off Lyon in penalty kicks last year. Wendie Renard scored in the 29th minute after she followed through on a blocked shot by Turbine Potsdam goalkeeper Anna Felicitas Sarholz. Lyon continued to press from all angles, and Sarholz prevented Lyon from doubling the lead just moments later.

Elodie Thomis caused Turbine Potsdam’s outside backs trouble on the wings while Camille Abily created a handful of chances and Lotta Schelin came close to scoring on several occassions. The two-time Frauen-Bundesliga champions finally folded under the mounting pressure as Lara Dickenmann sealed victory in the 84th minute as she raced into the box unmarked and unleashed a shot from 10 yards out.

Turbine Potsdam’s chances were deflated pre-match when Yuki Nagasota was ruled out to a knee injury sustained in Japan’s friendly against the United States last Wednesday. Nagasota scored the second most goals in the 2010-2011 Champions League campaign with nine.

Lyon seemed intent on capturing European glory after years of promise and preparation. A sixth consecutive domestic title is also guaranteed as the team remains undefeated in France’s Feminine Division with one match day left.

Determined club chairman Jean-Michel Aulas spent lavishly on the side in the offseason. Camille Abily and Sonia Bompastor were lured away from WPS while the club purchased promising talent Eugenie Le Sommer from Stade Briochin. Aulas’ investments paid dividends as Lyon look destined to continue to be a preeminent force both in France and, alas, on the European continent, too.

It’s been a long time coming. Shek Borkowski told AWK in October that Lyon were the only team capable of breaking Germany’s dominance in European women’s club football. Indeed, this is the first time a non-German side has won the UEFA Women’s Champions League (which was formerly known as the UEFA Women’s Cup from 2001 to 2008) since 2007 when Arsenal defeated Umea.

Turbine Potsdam’s loss reflects a possible rearrangement of power in the European landscape. After a three-year lull, FFC Frankfurt staged a grand reentrance this season and held their East German rivals close throughout the entire Frauen-Bundesliga campaign.

Frankfurt are clearly aiming to return to the top of their perch. The club currently has the most European titles with three and are set to enter the UEFA Women’s Champions League next season at the expense of 2009 tournament champions Duisburg.

The team has strengthened this offseason with the addition of Turbine Potsdam’s star striker Lira Bajramaj, who found the club’s big money offer too tempting to pass up. The former powerhouses also look poised to become fully professional in the near future – a potential first in Europe.

Frankfurt’s aspirations and spending power can only be only matched, if not eclipsed by that of Lyon. Olymique Lyonnais’ top class professionalism and uninhibited ambition have become trademarks of the club.

Thursday’s win also gives the club its first Champions League trophy in history, as Lyon’s men’s side has come close in recent years but historically falter at the quarterfinals stage.

The club’s men’s division has become known for selling off valuable players for huge sums of money. Michael Essien, Karim Benzema, and Flourent Malouda have all garnered Lyon massive profits in transfers. Lyon’s women’s side adheres to an entirely different model, however, as the club has methodically assembled a well-paid French-centric, quasi-all-star team of sorts.

Lyon’s women’s team has been known to attract fan support as well, as a record crowd of 20,123 packed the famed Stade de Gerland to witness Lyon defeat Arsenal Ladies in the first leg of the semifinals this past April.

While Lyon’s rapid ascendancy is unlikely to let up anytime soon, the team could very well see a change in its continental competition.

 

Click here for The Guardian’s excellent report of the match.

Notables for May 26, 2011

  • The 2010-11 UEFA Women’s Champions League final between Turbine Potsdam and Olympique Lyonnais kicks off at London’s Craven Cottage in just several hours. The game will be a rematch of last year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final in which Turbine Potsdam held on to defeat Lyon in penalties after 120 scoreless minutes. Turbine Potsdam manager Bernd Schroder tells UEFA.com why the volcanic ash that has spread across the northern part of western Europe could disrupt fans’ travel plans.

 

  • For all you lucky souls whose cable packages include GolTV, the channel will be broadcasting the match beginning at 3 PM ET.

 

  • The Western New York Flash have traded Kelly Parker and Julianne Sitch to the Atlanta Beat in exchange for Atlanta’s third pick in the first round of the 2012 WPS Draft as well as the team’s first pick in the second round.

 

  • Caroline Seger has been named Player of the Week for week seven in WPS. She becomes the fourth consecutive WNY Flash player to do so. Week one was the last time a non-Flash or Beat player has been named POTW. Sky Blue FC’s Allie Long claimed the honor.

 

  • With absolute all respect to Seger, it is a shame that defenders were once again overlooked for the title. Candace Chapman, Kandace Wilson, Anita Asante, and even Tina Ellertson had particularly solid performances for their respective teams. A defender has yet to be been named Player of the Week in league history. People are persuaded by goals though, regardless of how they’re scored.

 

 

 

  • On Monday, the Boston Breakers announced that goalkeeper Kelsey Davis tore her ACL and will miss the rest of the season. Davis suffered a similar fate with the Chicago Red Stars last season.

 

  • magicJack’s website looks to have been at least somewhat updated.

 

  • Dan Borislow remains bullish and defiant in the face of WPS’s recent punishments. The magicJack owner was fined $10,000 and received a two-match touchline ban for making derogatory comments about the league. Borislow tells the Sun-Sentinal he has no intention of paying the fine and delivers some ominous words to the Marietta Daily Journal.

 

  • The MDJ also has James Galanis’ reaction to the Atlanta Beat’s poor run of form, and reports that Lori Chalupny sustained a light muscle tear in her thigh in the Beat’s match against Sky Blue FC last weekend. She is expected to start on Saturday against magicJack, however.

 

  • Tony DiCicco, Briana Scurry, and Brandi Chastain have officially been named in studio analysts for ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

 

  • Cat Whitehill will also be joining the commentary crew. The Equalizer caught up with the USWNT veteran and she explains that she won’t be missing too much time with the Atlanta Beat.

 

  • The official 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup  referees representing the U.S. have started a blog.

 

  • FIFA today announced that tickets are back on sale for the World Cup’s most sought-after matches. The number of available tickets has also been increased from 800,000 to 900,000.

 

  • World Cup bound teams Colombia and New Zealand will join the likes of Wales and Denmark in the Matchworld Women’s Cup in Switzerland. The tournament will run from June 15 to June 20.

 

  • Equatorial Guinea arrived in Germany on May 16, becoming the first World Cup team to arrive in the host nation. Nigeria arrived today, exactly one month out from the kick-off of the tournament.

 

 

  • SoccerNation has a recap of last weekend’s WPSL action in which WPSL Co-Player of the Week Kristina Larsen scored a hat-trick for the Orange County Waves upon her debut and former USWNT member Jen Lalor-Nielsen and current San Diego SeaLion head coach stepped on to the pitch for her injury-ravaged side and helped the team defeat the Bay Area Breeze 1-0.

 

  • The FA WSL reached its midway point on May 12. The league will break for the World Cup before resuming on July 22. Upstarts Birmingham City remain atop the standings with a four point lead over second-place Arsenal. Birmingham City are the only undefeated team in the league. Conversely, Liverpool are mired in last place and are still looking for their first win of the season.

 

 

  • April Heinrichs has named the players who will be in attendance for the U-20′s training camp running from June 4-12 in Chula Vista, California. The U-20′s will also face Japan’s U-20′s twice during this time.

 

  • Morgan Brian has been named Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year. The Georgia native becomes the first student-athlete from the state to receive the award.

 

 

  • And lastly, if you’re thinking of traveling to Germany for the World Cup, visit Proactive Soccer Tours for all your travel needs.

For all you US and Canadian Women’s National team fans, come support your teams in stadiums throughout soccer crazed Germany with ProActive Soccer Tours. This one of a kind World Cup fan experience lets you, your friends, and your family follow the teams for 8 days and 5 games (2 US, 2 Canada, 1 Other), and is the perfect summer vacation. This fully guided tour includes the 5 game tickets, tours of the German host cities, daily cultural activities around Germany, 3 to 4 star hotels, private transportation, and even a meet and greet with a star from the Women’s World Cup, all for only $1290! To be a part of this extraordinary event go to proactivesoccertours.com, or give us a call at 540-908-3279 to reserve your place today!

Six Things That Happened in WPS Week SEVEN

A 5-4 win was in the making, but magicJack just couldn’t seize it.

It seemed as if the hoodoo that prevented Abby Wambach from scoring any goals against Japan last Wednesday had afflicted Ella Masar last night. On a different day, magicJack’s feisty forward could have left the field having notched her first career hat-trick. But it wasn’t to be, as magicJack’s swashbuckling attack was ultimately outdone by the crossbar and some tremendous goalkeeping by Ashlyn Harris. From the outset, the Flash made magicJack’s gutsy 3-4-3 formation look foolish as converted midfielders Marian Dalmy and Meghan Schnur were caught out badly by the Flash’s quick counter attacks. The red hot intensity lessened as the match wore on. Sarah Huffman provided wonderful service to the magicJack’s attackers while Abby Wambach assumed a playmaking role out wide and in behind Masar. Hope Solo also made some stellar saves in net, despite conceding a soft goal against Caroline Seger which was the result of some defensive miscommunication. magicJack’s high-flying offense looked tremendously dangerous at points, but the team was let down by an inability to finish a bevy of chances.

 

The WNY Flash looked as complete a team as ever.

The Flash’s golden triumvirate of Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Alex Morgan almost always get the credit. Statistics aren’t kept for how frequently a midfielder breaks up play and turns possession or how many times a center-back cuts off the run of an attacker. With this said, the Flash looked sound in every department. Candace Chapman and Kandace Wilson used their speed and athleticism to neutralize the speed of Masar and the physical presence of Wambach. Brittany Bock did well to prevent any fluidity in magicJack’s final third. McCall Zerboni showed her immense utility at left-back. Caroline Seger worked as hard as ever to keep possession in the Flash’s favor. Aside from the early goal, Becky Edwards continues to look sharp in midfield. Ashlyn Harris looked terrific, and looked Solo-esque with her last-gasp reactionary stops and shot-blocking. She’s a goalkeeper who can clearly raise the level of her game when necessary, which makes one wonder how she would fare with the hyper intensity of a tournament situation. And of course, the Flash’s gilded attack didn’t disappoint. Sinclair tallied two assists while Marta was just being Marta (the weight on some of her passes is something to admire). As was noted about Morgan by commenter Random, the 21 year-old routinely does well to get in to a favorable and dangerous positions while not being caught offside. Her off the ball movement is intelligent, but as of late, something has been lacking in her final pass or shot. That instinct to pull the trigger should come with age. Either way, the Flash are a stacked team with few faults.  

 

Sky Blue FC finally kicked into gear.

Goals have been hard to come by at Yurcak Field. Sky Blue scored just six goals at home last season over 11 matches. The tide has seemingly turned, however, as Jim Gabarra’s team has now registered five goals in just two home games. From all indications, Sky Blue took advantage of Atlanta’s attack-heavy formation. Laura Kalmari scored her second goal of the season off of a Casey Noguiera corner before Allie Long doubled the lead with a penalty kick after Analisa Marquez took her down in the box. SBFC killed off the game in the 70th minute with a Heather O’Reilly goal. As the press release reads, “After receiving the feed, O’Reilly turned on the afterburners and fled in the direction of the goal after Atlanta netminder Allison Lipsher overcommitted to the distribution.” With the result, Sky Blue remain tied with Atlanta at the bottom of the league. However, Sky Blue have scored six total goals to Atlanta’s five with two fewer games played.  

 

The Atlanta Beat are realizing everybody’s worst fears – or expectations.

Things looked so promising for a short while. The Beat’s 3-0 loss to Sky Blue means Atlanta are now winless in five matches with losses having come in each of the last four. Despite some apparent chances and decent possession, the Beat were outshot 15 to six on the night. Head coach James Galanis again laid blame on his players saying, “Our effort was good from some players but not good enough from other players.  Some are reacting rather than anticipating. Enough is enough. They are not reaching their potential and that’s the issue that I have.” Whether it’s a lack of effort or a gulf in talent, the Beat are in a rough patch. The team lay claim to the most lopsided goal difference in the league with five goals scored to 16 conceded – and this despite Alli Lipsher’s heroics. Perhaps worse, the team has the worst disciplinary record in the league by some distance. Atlanta’s 14 total yellow cards equal the total amount of cautions in the rest of the league combined. Five players are on the brink of suspension from yellow card accumulation, which is worrisome given Atlanta’s thin squad.

 

Continue reading

Notables for the Day Blackpool and Birmingham City Went Down

Two W’s (Wolves and Wigan) managed to stay up  and avoid the sad fate of West Ham while two B’s (Blackpool and Europa League-bound Birmingham City) finished in the relegation zone, unlike Blackburn. Who doesn’t love Survival Sunday?

 

  • Updated: WPS has imposed penalites on magicJack owner Dan Borislow for derogatory public statements. Here’s the official ruling:

For public statements that are derogatory and not in the best interests of the league, Dan Borislow (magicJack) is required to pay a fine of $10,000 and has been suspended from serving in any technical capacity for magicJack for two (2) games, effective immediately.

 

  • If WPS had relegation, the Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC would be battling to stay out of the drop zone. SBFC helped their cause by earning their first win of the season after shutting out the Atlanta Beat 3-0. The score line also marked the team’s largest margin of victory in franchise history. Laura Kalmari, Allie Long, and Heather O’Reilly were the goal scorers. Kalmari and Lori Chalupny were substituted due to injury. As Lauren Barker points out, Sky Blue FC have scored five goals in two home matches this season, just one fewer than the total amount of goals scored in 11 home game last year. Here’s Jeff Kassouf’s match report.

 

  • The win takes Sky Blue to joint fifth in the standings alongside Atlanta. Atlanta are now winless in five matches, having taken a total of one point from a maximum 15. Four Beat players are nearing suspension due to yellow card accumulation. Analisa Marquez is one caution away from suspension while Colleen Flanagan, Carli Lloyd, Heather Mitts, and Lauren Sesselmann are two cautions away. As Chris Henderson point outs, the Beat have two more yellow cards than the rest of the league combined. Meanwhile, recently departed Beat member Kristina Larsen netted a hat-trick in her debut for the Orange County Waves.  
  • Heather O’Reilly offers post-match comments below:

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  • The Flash are set to host magicJack in several hours and Jeff DeVeronica explains why this match could be a stand-in for the WPS All-Star Game. DeVeronica tweeted that the Flash are now expecting a crowd of more than 7,000.

 

  • Kristine Lilly will be honored at today’s Boston Breakers/Philadelphia Independence game. The Boston Globe has a lengthy tribute to Lilly’s career and the Boston Herald reports on the proceedings that took place on “Kristine Lilly Day” that occurred in the city yesterday.

 

  • U.S. Soccer is auctioning off the USWNT’s autographed shirts to benefit Japan tsunami relief via eBay. Tomorrow is the last day to bid.

 

  • ESPN’s Scott French has an article about the WPSL and the need for regionalization.

 

  • Christie Welsh has signed with DC United of the W-League. The 30 year-old most recently played for the Washington Freedom and collected 39 USWNT caps over a six-year span.

 

  • Germany defeated North Korea 2-0 in an international friendly on Saturday. Kim Kulig converted a penalty before Celia Okoyino da Mbabi scored five minutes from full time. 8,756 people attended the match in Ingolstadt, which is 41 percent of total capacity. As literature fans can tell you, Ingolstadt is the setting of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Match highlights here.

 

  • Arsenal reclaimed the FA Women’s Cup after the team defeated Bristol Academy on Saturday. First half goals from Scots Kim Little and Julie Fleeting sealed the victory. The match saw a solid attendance of 13,885 at Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The match got a mention on Saturday’s edition of BBC 5 Live’s 606 Football Phone-In when a caller phoned in to praise the attendees and the atmosphere they created. Download the podcast on iTunes and listen for yourself.

 

  • Not familiar with Rebecca Lowe’s work? Catch a brief glimpse of the ESPN personality at the beginning and end of this video. She’ll be presenting ESPN’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup this summer alongside Bob Ley.

[vsw id="f5q9zXhTbjg" source="youtube" width="500" height="500" autoplay="no"]

 

  • H/T to LB for this one, but has anyone else noticed that many of WPS team’s away kits are the exact same (except for the colors and sponsors, obviously) as Tottenham Hotspurs’ 2010-2011 away kits?

Spurs' 2010-11 Away Kit

The Philadelphia Independence's 2011 Away Kit

 

  • AWK is proud to welcome http://prosoccer.com on board as a new sponsor. There you’ll find a wide array of USWNT, U.S. Soccer, and Puma merchandise so go ahead and have a look!

 

  • And lastly, don’t forget to support Proactive Soccer Tours and pay them a visit for all your 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup needs.

For all you US and Canadian Women’s National team fans, come support your teams in stadiums throughout soccer crazed Germany with ProActive Soccer Tours. This one of a kind World Cup fan experience lets you, your friends, and your family follow the teams for 8 days and 5 games (2 US, 2 Canada, 1 Other), and is the perfect summer vacation. This fully guided tour includes the 5 game tickets, tours of the German host cities, daily cultural activities around Germany, 3 to 4 star hotels, private transportation, and even a meet and greet with a star from the Women’s World Cup, all for only $1290! To be a part of this extraordinary event go to proactivesoccertours.com, or give us a call at 540-908-3279 to reserve your place today!

WPS Week Seven Preview

6.) Sky Blue FC vs. 5.) Atlanta Beat

This weekend’s WPS action begins with the battle at the bottom rungs of the table as Sky Blue FC host the Atlanta Beat in the team’s first home match since the first weekend of the 2011 season. Both teams have struggled with their respective attacks. The stats bear that out as the two teams rank among the worst in the league with shots per game and goals per game. Atlanta has averaged 0.83 goals per game while Sky Blue have been good for 0.75 per match. Sky Blue have averaged 9.25 shots per game and Atlanta is below them with 7.50. Sky Blue’s grueling road schedule and sporadic fixtures could be to blame for the team’s slow start. Atlanta exceeded expectations in the beginning of the season and even had a brief appearance at the top of the standings before losing form. The Beat will attempt to snap a four match winless streak against a Sky Blue team that has taken just one point from four matches. A cohesive attack will be the key.

Sky Blue FC form chart: L L L D

Atlanta form chart: L L L D W

Last meeting: Saturday, April 16, 2011 – Atlanta Beat 1, Sky Blue FC 0

All-time head-to-head results: Sky Blue FC – two wins, Atlanta Beat – two wins, one draw

 

4.) Boston Breakers vs. 3.) Philadelphia Independence

The Independence appear to be back to winning ways as last year’s WPS Championship finalists have claimed two victories on the bounce. Conversely, the Breakers continue to slide down the league standings thanks to a two match winless skid. Both Paul Riley and Tony DiCicco will have their respective national team players at the ready for perhaps one of the last times before the World Cup. Amy Rodriguez, Lori Lindsey, and Megan Rapinoe all made bright appearances in the USWNT’s 2-0 victory against Japan on Wednesday night. Philadelphia’s attack has done just fine with the likes of Lianne Sanderson, Laura del Rio, Jo Lohman, and Tina DiMartino, and Tasha Kai so it’s unclear if Riley will call upon any of his USWNT players. DiCicco might rely on his heavily, however, as Boston’s defense and offense continues to show deficiencies, as he noted in his criticism of his players’ feeble effort against the Flash last week. The Breakers’ national team players may help to shore up the Breakers’ deficiencies but it will only be a temporary fix.

Boston Breakers form chart: L L W L W

Philadelphia Independence form chart: W W L D

Last meeting: Sunday, May 8, 2011 – Philadelphia 2, Boston Breakers 0

All-time head to head results: Philadelphia Independence – one win, Boston – two wins, two draws

 

1.) WNY Flash vs. 2.) magicJack

In what is undoubtedly the biggest match of the 2011 season up to now, the Western New York Flash will look to affirm their preeminent status at the top of the table while magicJack will attempt to narrow the gap between first and second place. Aaran Lines will have the luxury of hand-picking the top players in his squad as only Kaley Fountain has been ruled out due to injury. Meanwhile, magicJack’s unidentified person(s) in command will have to select a squad without Lindsay Tarpley and Christie Rampone. magicJack have yet to drop a point (for on-the-field matters at least) and will certainly be eager to make their world debuts before a television audience. The Flash will look to match magicJack’s high-flying attack with the team’s sensational three-pronged front line. This game could very well be a crucial six-pointer as the three points gained by one team will eliminate the chance to earn six points for the other. Points at this juncture in the season are becoming precious commodities as the World Cup looms larger.

WNY Flash form chart: W W W T W

magicJack form chart: W W W (WPS deducted one point on May 12 for two violations of league policy)

Last meeting: None

All-time head to head record: None

 

Attendance watch:

Atlanta earned the goal star of the season so far as the team managed to attract 6,125 people to Kennesaw State University Stadium last weekend. The last time the league saw a higher attendance figure was when 7,248 people attended the Beat’s inaugural match on May 9, 2010.

This weekend’s Flash/magicJack game should see a number that will rival those figures as Abby Wambach will be in town for her a sort of homecoming. More than 6,000 tickets have already been sold for what should be a cracking match. The real question is whether any of those fans will stick around for matches Wambach won’t be a part of.

As was noted above, Sky Blue FC return to Yurcak Field for the first time in five weeks. The team’s home opener saw an attendance figure of 2,910 – well below the team’s averages of 3,320 from 2010 and 3,651 from 2009.

The Boston Breakers will look to improve upon the 2,789 figure the team attracted at the Breakers’ last home game on May 1. That was the lowest attendance figure in franchise history. The Breakers will honor Kristine Lilly and her career so that should definitely help.

 

League attendance average after 14 matches: 2,642

League median after 14 matches: 2,476.5

WPS Team News – Week Seven

Sky Blue FC (0-3-1, 1 pt.) vs Atlanta Beat (1-4-1, 4 pts.) – Saturday, 7 PM EST

Still searching for their first win in 2011, Sky Blue FC look to be boosted by the return from injury of defender Kendall Fletcher. Listed as probable in the latest injury report, Fletcher looks likely to return straight into a Sky Blue defense that has desperately felt her absence. Heather O’Reilly is in electric form at the moment but may see her minutes limited after extensive USWNT action this past week. Head coach Jim Gabarra faces many decisions about his stuttering offense, though it seems Adriana, who scored on her debut sensationally, is a likely candidate to replace misfiring Brit Eniola Aluko up front for SBFC. The goalkeeper rotation employed thus far by Gabarra makes it seem likely that Jenni Branam will get the call in between the pipes on Saturday night.

Sky Blue FC (from) – Branam (GK), Fletcher, Dew, Taylor, Asante, Blank, Long, O’Reilly, Sjogran, Nogueira, Adriana, Bardsley (GK), Heath, Aluko, Kalmari, Kerr, Mautz, D. Johnson

With the roster turnover of mid-week still fresh in the minds of many, the Beat travel north to New Jersey in an attempt to break a three match losing streak and a four match winless streak. With Heather Mitts once again ruled out through injury, Analisa Marquez looks set to retain her place in the starting lineup but will be suspended for Atlanta’s next match should she be booked. With Atlanta in desperate need of points, USWNT midfielder Carli Lloyd could see extensive action for the Beat. Kristina Larsen’s release means Meghan Lenczyk is all but assured of a starting role up top. Lauren Sesselmann and Lyndsey Patterson were both initially listed as questionable in the mid-week report but have been upgraded to probable in the latest update and have made the traveling roster. Colleen Flanagan’s status was similar but has not made the traveling roster along with Kylie Wright. The Beat look poised again to only bring four subs on the road.

Atlanta Beat (from) – Lipsher (GK), Marquez, Dowling, Whitehill, Reynolds, Lloyd, Chalupny, Trotter, Bethke, Jesolva, Lenczyk, Whitworth (GK), Patterson, Sesselmann, D’Agostino
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Notables for May 20, 2011

Please pardon the brevity once again. Real life has had its fair share of interruptions this week.

 

  • Match highlights from Wednesday’s USWNT game:

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  • Here’s Beau Dure’s informative take on last night’s USWNT/Japan game on ESPNW.com.

 

  • And here’s Lauren Barker’s reaction and player grades on World Soccer Reader.

 

 

  • McCall Zerboni earned this week’s WPS Player of the Week honors and becomes the third consecutive Flash player to do so.

 

  • Jeff DiVeronica is reporting that upwards of 5,500 tickets have been sold for Sunday’s top of the table clash between the Flash and magicJack.

 

  • And yes, magicJack have their very own YouTube channel complete with highlights from their victory against the Atlanta Beat in five parts. The video of the photo compilation from the match looks like it could have been the final project for a Video Production class at FAU. If that’s the case, hopefully it got an A because it’s actually pretty cool. 

 

  •  Becky Sauerbrunn tells ESPN’s Jacqueline Purdy why getting selected for the USWNT’s World Cup squad is somewhat bittersweet.

 

  • Kristina Larsen and Vendula Strnadova have been cut from the Atlanta Beat’s squad. Head coach James Galanis tells the MDJ why. The players didn’t spend too much time on the open market, however, as both players were scooped up by the WPSL’s Orange County Wave on Wednesday.

 

  • Canada defeated Switzerland 2-1 on Wednesday in a friendly. Christina Julien scored the game-winning goal off of a pass from Kelly Parker.

 

  • 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers will occur between January 19 and 29 at BC Place in Vancouver.

 

  • According to Twitter, Christine Sinclair successfully obtained a Green Card.

 

  • The CBC looks to be among the worldwide media outlets leading the way in pre-WWC coverage. Here’s a feature piece on Birgit Prinz.

 

  • Silvia Neid is set to announce Germany’s 21-player World Cup roster on Friday. Germany will face North Korea in a friendly on Saturday and will be without the services of Inka Grings.

 

  • Arsenal will be looking to avenge their first ever FA Cup final defeat last year with a victory over Bristol Academy on Saturday.

 

  • ESPNW.com kindly commissioned me to write a piece about the new FA WSL and here it is.

 

  • Former Chicago Red Stars general manager Marcia McDermott is now an assistant coach in the USWNT set-up. She was appointed at the beginning of 2011 starting at the Four Nations Tournament. Did we already know that?

 

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USWNT 2, Japan 0: Better, But Not Quite There Yet

The USWNT defeated Japan 2-0 in Cary, North Carolina on Wednesday night. Amy Rodriguez scored her second goal in as many matches in the 28th minute before Heather O’Reilly doubled the lead in the 69th minute with a solo effort. In total, the U.S.’s performance was a step up from the team’s 2-0 victory against Japan on Saturday, even if it wasn’t always entirely convincing.

Be sure to read Jeff Carlisle’s assessment and player ratings on ESPN.com.

 

Hope Solo had another solid outing in goal. Her positional sense clearly hasn’t been adversely affected by her long lay-off, as was evident in the 34th minute when she sprinted off her line in a show of tenacity and in the 80th minute when she tipped what was Japan’s best chance of the game over the bar.

Stephanie Cox clicked on and off throughout the match and was rescued by Rachel Buehler on more than one occasion. Japan attacked down the left flank frequently in the first half and Cox didn’t stand much of a chance against the pace of Shinobu Ohno. Disappointing.

Rachel Buehler wasn’t as aerially dominant as she was in the second half of Saturday’s game but her steadfast defending in the center forced Japan to try to sneak something out wide.

Becky Sauerbrunn looked immensely comfortable at center-back once again. She came up with a handful of solid takeaways and helped ping the ball to the midfield as well. Sauerbrunn was hands down the most consistent performer of the two-match series.

Ali Krieger was defensively stout and refused to be muscled off the ball. She also roamed forward and integrated in the attack well in the first half. This series of friendlies have probably been her best national team games yet.

Shannon Boxx had one of her best games in recent memory, even if it was over-praised by Briana Scurry. She was the first line of defense in midfield, but especially excelled in something of a deep-lying playmaker role. She laid the groundwork for the U.S.’s first goal with her deep pass to O’Reilly. She also had some adventurous runs down the left flank and crossed, passed, and shot like a proper winger. Boxx’s attacking qualities were a sight to behold tonight. Assigning a single role to her seems unfair, which is exactly the problem.

Carli Lloyd had an excellent second half. A lion’s share of the U.S.’s chances on the ground emanated from her accurate passing, including O’Reilly’s goal. She had an uninspired first half, however, and couldn’t forge a relationship between the midfield and forwards.

Heather O’Reilly was industrious as ever and remained lively on the right (and sometimes left) flank all night. The consummate team player got to revel in some individualistic glory after finishing a well-struck shot.

Megan Rapinoe wandered a bit in the first half but really came to life in the second. Her crisp crosses and incisive runs helped the U.S. maintain the tempo of the game in the second half. And the delivery on her set pieces was accurate more often than not.

Abby Wambach couldn’t seem to buy a goal, despite her best efforts. She had several gilded opportunities in the second half but couldn’t quite get enough on her headers. She was less involved in the playmaking aspect compared to Saturday’s game as Lloyd really stepped into that role in the second half.  The lack of clinical finishing is the one valid complaint her performance would warrant.

Amy Rodriguez did what she’s supposed to do. Her goal off a one-time shot from a slight angle was the kind of goal she’s expected to finish. That was one of her few clear chances on goal on the night, but she capitalized on it.

 

Substitutes:

Amy LePeilbet looked firm, fit, and self-assured at left-back, which was a welcome sight. It should be noted that Japan stopped pressuring the left flank by the time LePeilbet stepped in for Cox but she certainly did her job.

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