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
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