Monthly Archives: June 2014

Washington AmWoSo Week June 25-29

Sam Lofton and Ashley Herndon of the Spirit Reserves battle Braddock Road's Allie Wisner for the ball while Marisa Park looks on. (Photo by Larry J. Clark)

Sam Lofton and Ashley Herndon of the Spirit Reserves battle Braddock Road’s Allie Wisner for the ball while Marisa Park looks on. (Photo by Larry J. Clark)

It was a good week for local women’s soccer fans. The professional Spirit got back on a winning track. The flagship Washington Spirit Reserves won three games in five days and clinched first place in the W-League’s Northeastern Conference. The Braddock Road Stars Elite got their second win. The ASA Chesapeake Charge went 3-0 in the group stage of the USASA Women’s Open Cup, then lost narrowly in the finals to the New York Athletic Club. On the other hand, ACF Torino USA fell, 2-1, to the New York Fury.
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NWSL – Fantasy Round Twelve Preview

If you captained Alex Morgan, you probably enjoyed a very good round. I still managed a decent week to rise closer to the Top 100, but the decision to captain Vero over Morgan turned out to be a rather poor one. Sticking with Morgan, Sinclair, and Vero did end up fueling my side forward, extra helpful considering I had five players who didn’t even not a whole point, the most disappointing one perhaps being Amy Rodriguez, who put up a bagel in a rare poor outing.

This time out, scores are probably going to be astronomical, as SIX teams are on double game rounds. Of course, two who aren’t are FC Kansas City, in form, and Portland, sort of half in-form, but capable of some big points. It’s all a matter of how much you trust the two teams to be able to put up a big number against the other. I’d be dubious considering the volume of players with two games this round, though given Alex Morgan’s capacity for huge games and Amy Rodriguez’s seasonal form, you may feel otherwise.

Additionally, Chicago’s on a bye this round. Not particularly sure you’d fancy them in their current form anyway.

NWSL Fantasy Round Twelve Team Rankings

3. WSH (@HOU, BOS)
6. BOS (@WNY, @WSH)
8. POR (@FCKC)

Seattle – Well, the million dollar question is over HOPE SOLO. She’s technically available for selection, but does that tell us a whole hell of a lot? If I had to read the tea leaves, I’d guess she starts both matches, but it’s far from a settled matter. The nightmare scenario, obviously, is if Solo and HALEY KOPMEYER split matches. With Seattle being the pick of the littler this round, you may just have to guess right with Solo, as I don’t think holding Kopmeyer in reserve will be best for your points total, robbing you of a spot to put another Reign player. I would not captain Solo though. Defensively, Seattle has a fair shot at a clean sheet, though their tendency to go behind means I’d just stick with one defender, likely KENDALL FLETCHER. KIM LITTLE is obviously going to be in your team and should probably be wearing the armband if you’re playing it safe. JESS FISHLOCK’s a decent option but not great in all honesty given the number of teams with two games this round. You probably have a tough choice between NAHO and SYDNEY LEROUX this round. Leroux was the club’s big scorer last round, with Naho a total whiff. I’m not sure I’d go with both though, as there are so many two game clubs. Naho’s probably the safer option, but Leroux has more upside.
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Washington AmWoSo Weekend June 21-22

The Washington Spirit Reserves were recognized at halftime of the NWSL match for winning the US Women's Amateur Championship.

The Washington Spirit Reserves were recognized at halftime of the NWSL match for winning the US Women’s Amateur Championship.

Even though the DC-area amateur teams went undefeated over the weekend, there were still highs and lows. The high was the first-ever victory for the first-year Braddock Road Stars Elite. The low was a disappointing tie by the Washington Spirit Reserves. And meanwhile, the ASA Chesapeake Charge just keep rolling along.
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Spirit lose badly to Thorns in key match

In a pivotal game with significant playoff implications and revised lineups for both teams, the Washington Spirit fell badly, 6-1, to the Portland Thorns. From being in playoff position for several weeks, after losing three straight Washington dropped to fifth, while Portland slipped past them to take fourth.

If at the end of the season the Spirit fail to make the playoffs, we might well be looking back at the 69:49 mark of this game. After giving up two goals early, DC had fought hard for the next hour, gotten one goal back, and looked the more likely team to get another. Then backup goalkeeper Chantel Jones muffed a backpass from Niki Cross, sending it right to Alex Morgan, who quickly settled the ball and chipped it over the Jones and into the net.

“The third goal was a killer,” said Spirit head coach Mark Parsons. “I thought we were going to get that second goal. When that third goal went in, we changed the shape, went to three at the back. Soon as we went three in the back, we lost our rhythm, and they looked more dangerous.”
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NWSL – Fantasy Round Eleven Preview

Crazily enough, I survived the international call-up round with 81.50 points despite the daft move of captaining Taylor Vancil. I’m up to #159 overall with hopes of moving further up the ladder now that things are settling down on the roster front. It helps, of course, to hit on five of your seven midfielders/forwards, though I would’ve been towards the top of the overall week leaderboard had I played Haley Kopmeyer and Brittany Taylor from my bench.

This round is more straightforward, with players back from international duty, though some of the players may be rotation risks, especially those coming back from injury (Alex Morgan) or from Europe (Kim Little & Jess Fishlock). The Morgan situation is bound to cause a headache or two though, with Portland this round’s best pick with two matches. There’s probably a reasonable argument for loading up on the top six of the rankings below, though I still expect a lot of Portland players on rosters this round.

Round Eleven Team Rankings

1. POR
3. SEA
5. WSH
6. BOS
7. WNY
8. CHI

Portland – They’re quite obviously the top pick for this round as one of just two teams with two games, but there’s still much unsettled here. NADINE ANGERER would be a no-brainer for your goalkeeper and potentially captain if she weren’t suspended for the Thorns’ first match of the round. As it stands, MICHELLE BETOS will play that match, but I think Angerer has the better matchup against SBFC later in the week. I’m averse to captaining keepers with one match though, so I’d look elsewhere to distribute the armband. Like to VERO, perhaps? After an atypically poor debut, the Spaniard netted 15.50 points last week. She’s probably going to hit more than she misses the rest of the way and shouldn’t be a rotation risk having not been on international duty last week. Everyone else? Good luck figuring it out. With so many players returning from injury and international duty, there’s a very real risk that Paul Riley might limit minutes this round. Defensively, it’s a choice between STEPH CATLEY and NIKKI MARSHALL, though I might advise against both given the sometimes shaky Portland defense’s performances earlier this year. Attackers (other than Vero)? Prepare to roll the dice. The Thorns need to win and win a lot to climb up the ladder, so I’d expect all the stars to get big minutes. Just how big though? Given the matchups, I’m tempted to roll with both CHRISTINE SINCLAIR and ALEX MORGAN, though the latter may be limited a bit more than fantasy owners would like considering her recent return from injury. She showed she’s in scoring form against France in midweek though, so I suspect she’ll pop up with at least one goal. For those wanting to burn an allocation elsewhere, JESSICA MCDONALD might be a nice dark horse pick after a monster game last round. I don’t have much of a clue as to how the midfield will shake out besides Vero starting. It hasn’t exactly been a unit of consistency, so I’d steer clear, for a round at least.
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Washington WoSo Wednesday: A Battle and a Romp

Rival goalscorers Marisa Park and Meghan Cox face off.

Rival goalscorers Marisa Park and Meghan Cox face off. (Larry J. Clark)

There were two local soccer matches this past Wednesday between area teams, one a hard-fought battle and the other a lopsided romp that seems to have led to a team being removed from their league. Fortunately, I made it to the better match and will talk about that one first.
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NWSL – Midseason Rookie Review

The 2014 NWSL Draft Class was touted as one of the best in recent memory, composed largely of U.S. U20 World Cup winners at the top. Through half a season, has this class lived up to it’s billing? Well…

BOSTON – Jazmine Reeves probably delivered the best individual performance by a rookie this season with her stunning hat trick against Portland in the Breakers’ triumphant win. Other than that though? Uh, not so great. Reeves has five other appearances and zero shots on goal in those games. Potential there for certain, but she’s probably not the surefire star some think she is. First round pick Nkem Ezurike hasn’t exactly set the world on fire either. In five matches, Ezurike has just two shots on goal and one goal. With Lisa De Vanna dispatched to Washington, both Reeves and Ezurike should get more opportunities in the second half of the season. Mollie Pathman impressed as a winger in the preseason but was drafted back into defense to help solve the club’s ills there. She’s been decent there but not exceptional. Goalkeeper Jami Kranich hasn’t played. Natasha Anasi never reported to camp, while Kim DeCesare has been playing for the club’s reserve team.

CHICAGO – Most figured the Red Stars would have a great shot at improving their team by leaps and bounds with two of the first four picks in this draft. And so it’s been. Julie Johnston is the leader in the house for Rookie of the Year and may yet win Defender of the Year honors when all is said and done. She looks to be playing herself into contention for the U.S. WWC squad next year. Vanessa DiBernardo hasn’t been quite at that level but has still been quietly impressive for the Red Stars. That’d be enough for most teams to regard their draft as a resounding success, but the club also scored with Hayley Brock in round three, with the forward impressing in attack before being sidelined with jaw surgery. And undrafted rookies? Yeah, Chicago scored with those too. Samantha Johnson was pretty much an unknown at USC through a middling college career but looks like a tremendous find at center-back. And Kecia Morway has more than held her own at full-back on the backline. It looks like another fantastic haul for a front office with a great eye for talent.

FC KANSAS CITY – A lot in terms of quantity and a decent amount of quality based on early returns. Kassey Kallman’s being played out of position at left-back, and it’s been evident in many respects, though she’s still been more than solid for the club in defense. The real find though was Jenna Richmond, who probably would’ve gone much higher if not for her history of knee injuries. She’s stayed healthy and been a great fit in the defensive band of midfield in the club’s 4-2-3-1. It may have been presumed that Richmond would be a reserve and spot starter as a rookie, but she’s played well enough to stick as a starter. Morgan Marlborough’s looked like a project from day one and with a return of just one goal and three shots on goal in seven games, she still has a long way to go to be a consistent performer at this level. With Sarah Hagen coming in as well, you wonder how many minutes she’ll see up front as the club’s target forward. Frances Silva has been the more impressive of the forwards, including scoring a big goal against Houston this past weekend. Silva’s already been an imposing threat in the attack and could end up being one of this class’ best picks long-term. Mandy Laddish has seen limited time as a reserve. Maegan Kelly is currently playing in Europe. Undrafted rookie Sara Keane made the club as FCKC’s backup keeper and started against Houston last week.
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June 11-15 roundup for DC-area amateur teams

The Charge's Marisa Kresge scores one of her two goals on the evening. (The live ball is at the right-hand edge of the image.)

The Charge’s Marisa Kresge scores one of her two goals on the evening. (The live ball is at the right-hand edge of the image.) (Ken L. Harriford)

This week was somewhat kinder to local teams than last: the ASA Chesapeake Charge winning twice, ACF Torino getting their first goals and their first win, and Braddock Road getting their first standings point. The Washington Spirit Reserves dropped their first standings points of the season but remained comfortably atop the W-League’s Northeastern Conference.
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NWSL – Fantasy Round Ten Preview

The less said about Round Nine, the better. I went in like a mad man on Portland and Washington, looking at matchups, while avoiding WNY, despite their two match round. And I, along with many others, paid the price, as the Thorns were humiliated by the Flash at home, while Washington put in a decidedly limp performance on the road against Boston. The result was a slide close to knocking me out of the Top 200 overall. It should probably serve as a reminder as to why double game clubs are so precious and vital to success in this game. Yes, WNY was utterly disappointing against Houston, but they had already made fantasy owners very happy earlier in the round against Portland.

So basically, this round? Load up with Red Stars players. As the lone side with two games this round, they’re ripe for points, especially with the matchups they have, even on a current losing streak. That being said, it’s not as simple as that, as they, and every other squad, are going to feel the heat from being without so many players thanks to international call-ups.

It’s going to make for a very unpredictable round. Even Seattle, who you’d normally expect to walk all over Boston will be without key players like Kim Little, Jess Fishlock, and Sydney Leroux. Honestly, I’d look less at things from a pure matchup standpoint in lieu of targeting players scoring points consistently (or as close to consistently as things are going to get with so many others absent). Regardless, the spread of players being picked this round is probably going to be as wide as it gets all season. Given the sheer amount of unpredictability the past few weeks, I doubt many fantasy managers will be confident after the roster deadline on Saturday.

Round Ten – Team Rankings

1. CHI
2. SEA
3. POR
4. WNY
6. HOU
7. WSH
8. BOS

Chicago – Their form has taken a downturn in recent rounds, and I’m probably a little more bearish on them with that in mind. But they’re the only club with two fixtures this round, making them very appealing. Of course, Rory Dames has the somewhat annoying habit of shuttling new attackers in at the half, which could provide a real headache for fantasy managers, even with the club having two games. TAYLOR VANCIL looks like a no-brainer in goal this week. Given all the unpredictability with the international call-ups, two starts is probably going to be good enough for her to stick in my team, especially with the matchups. I’d consider her for the armband as well. MICHELLE WENINO would normally be the defensive pick, but she went just seventy-three minutes last time out, meaning she may be at risk of not getting clean sheet credit again, especially with the team seemingly working hard to get TARYN HEMMINGS back in the lineup. LORI CHALUPNY hasn’t been great this season, but should at least get you a good shot at double digits as a surefire starter this round for the Red Stars. The other midfield options are toss-ups. EMILY VAN EGMOND has the hot hand after her goal against Seattle, but the safer options (relatively speaking) may be either ZAKIYA BYWATERS and/or VANESSA DIBERNARDO. Bywaters probably has a better chance of scoring but is also more likely to be subbed in or out at the half. Up top, JEN HOY has cooled down after a hot stretch but is basically the last woman standing thanks to international call-ups and injuries. You’ll probably want to roll with her and hope she gets the goals going again.
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Mixed weekend for DC-area amateur teams

Morgan Reuther scored a hat trick in the opening 40 minutes to ensure the only local win of the weekend.

Morgan Reuther scored a hat trick in the opening 40 minutes to ensure the only local win of the weekend. (Larry J. Clark)

Three of the four top local women’s amateur teams played this weekend, with two losses and one win. I attended two of the games but couldn’t make it to the third. Guess which one was the win?
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