NWSL – Round Nineteen Fantasy Preview

With two rounds left in the NWSL fantasy season, the playoff spots have been decided, and even first and last have been decided. All of that means you’re probably best advised to stay away from anyone outside of the three teams fighting for home advantage in the semi-finals. The risk for squad rotation is just too great with everyone else. Managers will want to get a closer look at those who haven’t played much this season, many of the players who have featured for most of the season will likely have a foot in Cabo, and I suspect some of the USWNT’ers will be kept on ice with the Victory Tour coming up.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on who to pick for round nineteen:


FC Kansas City have been in killer form as of late and will be fully rested against an SBFC team playing on Saturday night at the regular season champs. Hate to use an allocation spot, but I’m probably going to plump for Barnhart and not think twice. Ashlyn Harris against eliminated Portland isn’t a bad bet, and neither is whoever starts for Chicago against a WNY team running out of offensive weapons. But beware the Red Stars, as they also have looked out of gas over the last month.


As always, I’m making an exception to get Kelley O’Hara in my lineup, though it certainly hurts with her taking an allocation slot up. SBFC has two games though, so hopefully she’ll get major minutes in both and justify this choice. Otherwise, I like Leigh Ann Robinson from FC Kansas City and Taryn Hemmings of Chicago. Washington’s got a decent matchup, but I’m not sure they have the defenders to get much more than a clean sheet bonus from a points standpoint.
Continue reading

JMU Invitational Round 2: CAA blanks Big East

On Sunday, the Big East and Colonial Athletic Association teams switched off against each other. William & Mary faced Georgetown in the first game and shocked the Hoyas, 3-0. Then James Madison took on Seton Hall and prevailed easily, 5-0.
Continue reading

JMU Invitational Round 1

The Fairfield Inn by Marriott James Madison University Invitational – to give it its full name – presented a contrast in the first round of matches. In the opener, William & Mary dispatched Seton Hall easily, 5-1, while in the nightcap Georgetown had a tight, high-scoring battle with hosts James Madison before prevailing, 4-3.

If you had to set up a pecking order among the teams, it would definitely be:

1. Georgetown – last year 6-1-2 and #2 in Big East, 11-5-6 overall, ranked #25 in country.
2. James Madison – 7-2 and #2 in Colonial Athletic Association, 12-8 overall.
3. William & Mary – 5-4 and #4 in CAA, 12-6-1 overall.
4. Seton Hall – 0-6-3 in Big East, 3-10-5 overall.

I don’t want to diss Seton Hall too badly, but one of these teams is not like the others, and it showed in the results.
Continue reading

NWSL – Round Eighteen Fantasy Preview

To put it bluntly, my attention span is fading pretty badly considering the beginning of college season is upon us. With three rounds left in the season, I’ve fallen to fourth overall and 31.00 points behind the overall leader. While I did OK in the round past, I also left a lot of points on the table, with Carli Lloyd and Sofia Huerta among the massive busts for me on my team. Crystal Dunn delivered. Again. But she’s on everyone’s team right now, so if you want to make a big move, you’re going to have to roll the dice in a big way.

Seattle, Boston, and FC Kansas City have two games this round. Obviously, you’re not going to be considering too many Breakers besides Kristie Mewis, but you definitely want a lot of players from the other two. Chicago looks to be fading down the stretch but are facing an equally wheezing WNY side in the highlight of the one-game matchups. Again, strategy has to be dictated by where you are in the standings right now. But with three rounds to go, time is running out to get to the promised land.


It’s gotta be either Nicole Barnhart or Hope Solo. I’d tip Chicago’s goalkeeper against WNY as a wild card option, but there’s no telling who’ll be in goal for the Red Stars, so I’d stay away. Considering Vlatko’s pulled the bait and switch with double game rounds this year, I’m just going to ride with Hope Solo as the safe option.


Seattle’s got two impressive options in Kendall Fletcher and Rachel Corsie. I think Corsie’s got the hot hand at the moment, but so might other players, which might push me towards Fletcher. Similarly, Leigh Ann Robinson and Amy LePeilbet have both been golden for FCKC thus far, averaging nearly five points a match. Take your pick from the duo. Of course, my third option is Kelley O’Hara, listed as a defender, playing as an attacker.
Continue reading

2015 Women’s World Cup – United States vs Japan – A Performance for The Ages As USWNT Lifts Trophy

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – So here it is. The rubber match in what has turned into the best rivalry in women’s soccer. The U.S. has to be considered the favorite after easing past Germany in the semis and having looked an entirely different team after the enforced changes before the quarterfinal. They haven’t lacked for chances against Japan in past encounters, it’s just a matter of making the most of them now. Japan has shown moments of vulnerability all throughout this tournament but have made teams pay for not making the most of their chances. Can they pull another rabbit out of their hat and retain their title?

3’ – GOAL – United States (Lloyd) – Dream start or nightmare start depending on your persuasion. Off a corner, the U.S. delivers low, with Ohno missing her interception. Lloyd swoops in and hammers it low and beyond Kaihori for the game’s first goal.

5’ – GOAL – United States (Lloyd) – Another set piece calamity for Japan. Heath wins a free kick in a dangerous spot, functioning almost as a short corner. The delivery goes to the near post, with Johnston backheeling into the area. It bounces around the area, and Lloyd pounces on space in between two Japanese defenders to scrap it home. An unbelievable American start.

14’ – GOAL – United States (Holiday) – The trophy is coming back to America. Krieger drives a cross into the box, which, for some reason, Iwashimizu tries to clear with a stooping header. This just pops it up into the air, with Holiday running onto it and volleying it home. Great finish, suicidal defending.

16’ – GOAL – United States (Lloyd) – This is like something from another planet. Japan gives it away cheaply near midfield, and Lloyd takes a few dribbles around a Japanese player before letting fly from the halfway line. Kaihori is off her line and can’t get there as it bounces off the inside of the left post and across the goal for a hat trick with barely a quarter of an hour on the clock gone. Unbelievable goal, and this is one of the best individual displays in a final for any sport. Ever.

18’ – And it should be 5-0. Despite being doubled up, Rapinoe gets down the flank and passes to Klingenberg. Her cross to Carli Lloyd is excellent, but Lloyd misses the target for once with her header.

23’ – Briefest sign of life from the Japanese attack, as Sakaguchi tries her luck from range. The shot dips and looks to be heading wide, but Solo comes out to dive for it for no reason in particular.

24’ – Long ball for Morgan who outraces Iwashimizu to the bouncing ball near the endline before cutting back inside and getting some space to shoot. Said shot is a tame effort right at Kaihori though. It’s been that type of tournament for Morgan.

27’ – GOAL – Japan (Ogimi) – Start of the great escape? OK, probably not. But Naho does well to get the ball wide before cutting inside and crossing to Ogimi. The forward posts up and spins through a falling Johnston before rifling a shot past Solo. 4-1.

28’ – Right back at the other end, Morgan fires into the sidenetting. As it turns out, that Japan goal left the U.S. just short of breaking the WWC shutout streak.

29’ – Crazy, crazy sequence, and Japan should only be down by two goals! Japan finds space between the lines, and a cross towards the near post is headed straight up into the air by the U.S. It ends up with Naho at the far post, and she squares back through the six. It evades Solo and the defense, and if a Japanese player was standing on the near post, it’d be 4-2. But there isn’t, and Japan has to play it back to Miyama, who hits a tame shot right at Solo.

33’ – SUB – Time to roll the dice for Japan, as they bring on Homare Sawa for Iwashimizu, who it has to be said, had an absolute nightmare.

39’ – SUB – Aggressive subbing from Japan, as Naho comes out for Yuika Sugasawa. I don’t doubt Sasaki often, but surprised to see Naho come off as she had been a spark in attack thus far.

42’ – Morgan has a penalty shout turned down, and right after a cross is headed by Lloyd towards goal. It’s deflected off a Japanese defender for another corner. Lloyd really wants #4.

HT – Barring the greatest comeback in soccer history, we’re forty-five minutes from a coronation. The U.S. blitzed Japan early, drowning them under a torrent of goals and taking advantage of some atypically shocking defending from the holders. The Asian side has calmed down, but it looks to be far too little, far too late, even if they have clawed one back.
Continue reading

2015 Women’s World Cup – England vs Germany – Three Lionesses Make Most of Third-Place Opportunity

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – These two sides enter this consolation match with very different mindsets after defeat in mid-week. For Germany, they’ll know that regardless of this result, their performance for the month will be criticized after many had tipped the European champions to lift the trophy on Sunday. England, on the other hand, will head back across the Atlantic to a raucous reaction in all likelihood, having outperformed expectations by a large margin, even with the heartbreaking defeat to Japan in the semi-final. As always, these two nations are heated rivals in any sporting encounter, and this match also will serve as an unofficial “best of Europe” in this tournament, adding extra spice to an already intriguing match.

1′ – First chance to Germany, as Daebritz scampers down the line before crossing in the box towards Petermann. Header from the young forward is pushed around the post by Bardsley. The keeper’s punch from the corner isn’t 100% convincing but good enough to clear the danger.

8′ – Kemme crosses towards the far post, about six yards out. Schmidt heads back across the face of goal, and Bardsley and Potter make a meal of it, colliding while the keeper tried to catch. The ball bounces towards goal before being hooked off the line by Houghton. Petermann tries to knock the loose ball home with it being blocked before Daebritz rockets a shot over.

9′ – England are rattled early. Carney has a simple pass blocked by Laudehr, and Petermann plays Sasic through on goal. The forward is being closed down but still has a 1v1 and hits a tame shot right at the keeper.

12′ – First real chance for England off a corner. They take and drive it into the six, where Angerer manages to meet the ball through a crowd with a punch. It bounces to an unmarked Potter at the top of the arc, but her shot is blocked. Bronze manages to get to the endline and cuts it back for Houghton, but her shot is weak and right to Angerer.

18′ – Daebritz chests a cross down at the edge of the area and turns into a volley that goes over the bar. Would’ve been spectacular.

28′ – Well, that was rude. Greenwood, in her own end tries to shield the ball off from Daebritz near the sideline. The English wing-back slows up and drives a shoulder and elbow into Daebritz’s chest, sending the young star to the turf. The German is incredulous, as am I.

30′ – More awkwardness for the English defense off a corner. Behringer gets a head to the delivery, but Bardsley runs into Chapman while she tries to get to the ball, though she recovers quickly. Bad communication today for the English defense and keeper.

32′ – Bronze wins a corner with some nifty dribbling. Germany promptly clear away.

41′ – Peter shields the ball at the sideline. White pushes her over with both hands. Peter holds her face. Oy vey.

45′ + 1′ – Behringer finds Daebritz in space in midfield and slots her a ball, with the midfielder slithering past one defender and getting into the box, where a shot is blocked.

HT – Well, it’s not been a classic. The first twenty minutes or so were very promising, with Germany on top and looking likely to fire home but with England also threatening. And then the match petered out. The defending hasn’t been top notch, especially in the boxes, while the referee has let some egregious physical play go as well. Hopefully, each side can turn it around in the second half.
Continue reading

NWSL – Round Seventeen Fantasy Preview

Round Sixteen results haven’t been posted yet, but though I easily breached triple digits again, I lost ground on the overall leader. Stephanie McCaffrey was a major bust in a game round where defenses got shredded, with nobody keeping a clean sheet.

This week? Well, there’ll probably be a clean sheet based on the law of averages if nothing else. With nine matches on the docket, expect there to be some astronomical scores this round. But don’t expect a ton of variety in the teams. With high-flying Chicago and Washington having three matches each, expect a steady dose of Christen Press and Crystal Dunn in everyone’s lineup.

There’s not much a reason to not go to the max with Washington and Chicago players. Each has two winnable matches before playing each other in the final match of the round. Of the two gamer teams, I’d suggest tabbing someone from FCKC who have two matches at home against teams they should realistically beat if they’re a playoff team.

3 Games


GK – It comes down to whether I’m convinced Michelle Dalton or Karina LeBlanc will start all three matches for Chicago. And I’m not. Plop Ashlyn Harris in and thank me later.

DEF – If you can find an update on Arin Gilliland’s injury status that has her ready to play, I’d seriously consider using her this round either with or without Taryn Hemmings. That’s not a sure thing though, so if you’ve got safety in mind, you may just want to roll with Hemmings. The Spirit don’t have great defensive fantasy options, unfortunately. Pick one or two at your leisure. Ali Krieger playing in midfield now is appealing, but she also costs you an allocation slot.

MF – You’re going to use Crystal Dunn, and half of you will captain her. That’s a wise decision of course. The risk averse will probably roll with Christine Nairn and be happy with their decision. Diana Matheson is for the more risky. The Canadian has shown she can still make an impact even coming off major injury, but her minutes are still being limited, so buyer beware. For Chicago, Lori Chalupny back to being a fantasy factor again, and her return has seen Vanessa DiBernardo’s value on the rocks. The injury concerns over DiBernardo also have me bullish on putting her in my lineup this round. Other than Chalupny and DiBernardo though, Chicago’s midfield fantasy options are spotty.

FW – Chicago’s fantasy options up top? Not spotty. Christen Press and Sofia Huerta look like Chicago’s weapons off choice now, and both should be in your lineup this round. Washington plays with Crystal Dunn as a recognized center forward, limiting opportunities elsewhere. Francisca Ordega’s back though and figures to get plenty of play to the end of the season. She’ll be in my lineup.
Continue reading

2015 Women’s World Cup – Japan vs England – Holders Achieve Last Minute Escape Against Unlucky England

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

Starting Tactical Lineup (from FIFA.com)

PRE – Time to find out who the U.S. will be staring down on Sunday. Japan entered this tournament as reasonable favorites to make it back to the final thanks to a kind draw and have calmly dealt with everything in their path, even if it hasn’t quite been a demolition job for the holders on the way. England reaching the final would be one of the great shocks of women’s soccer considering how poor they looked against top sides in the run-up to the tournament and the feeble 1-0 loss to France in their opener. They’ve improved by leaps and bounds though and will be confident of causing another shock. They have to avoid the slow start that has plagued them all tournament long save for the blitz of Canada in the quarterfinal.

1′ – England so nearly have the lead after less than a minute! Taylor posts up to receive a long ball and flicks it beyond Kumagai, who heads it right into the path fo the forward. Taylor takes a stride or two and volleys far post, just wide of the goal.

5′ – Bronze goes on a surging run from midfield, getting all the way to the endline and crossing into the box, forcing Kumagai to put it behind for a corner. England play it short despite the size advantage. Arrrgh.

8′ – Bronze gets a chance to drive in a free kick from the flank, but Japan head away confidently. So much for the size disadvantage.

20′ – OK, it’s not been a thriller thus far. England lump a free kick into the box, but Kaihori rises high and claims easily. Maybe they should go back to playing them short…

21′ – Ogimi dribbles in midfield before sliding wide to Miyama. She tries a couple of cuts centrally before getting low bridged just outside the box. Sameshima runs onto the loose ball but whacks it well over.

22′ – Miyama drives a free kick in the box, where it evades everyone before bouncing dangerously inside the six. Bardsley looks to be paralyzed with indecision as it bounces over as she runs into the post. Flag goes up anyway.

23′ – Bronze heaves a long throw into the box, where it’s headed around briefly before Duggan swivels and hits a powerful half-volley that sails over the bar.

27′ – Duggan, who’s looked lively thus far, slaloms between two Japanese defenders before fighting for the ball in the area while getting to the endline. Her cross is right at Kaihori though.

28′ – Duggan. Again. Scott crosses to the English forward, somehow lightly marked, and she tries an awkward volley that is well off-target.

31′ – PENALTY – Japan (Miyama) – Japan chips a long, diagonal ball to Ariyoshi who cuts inside and is barged over by Rafferty in the box. Rafferty got toasted by Ariyoshi’s pace, but it looks like the contact was outside the box. AGAIN. The full-back is booked. Miyama takes an eternity with the run-up before dispatching low and left with power and Bardsley going the wrong way.

39′ – PENALTY – England (Williams) – England are level, but that’s an absolutely shocking dive from Houghton. England loft in a corner, well past the penalty spot into a scrum. Nobody gets convincing contact on it, and as the ball rolls on the floor, Houghton falls and rolls theatrically to draw the whistle. Fara Williams goes low, hard, and left. It’s unstoppable, though Kaihori goes the right way.

HT – Somehow, there’s no stoppage time though we’ve had two penalties. It’s been a match of two controversial penalty calls, neither one of which should’ve been a spot kick, though for two different reasons. England have looked very threatening through Duggan and Taylor up top but are perhaps missing just a bit of the connective element. Japan are as subdued as ever but are far from being overrun. Everything on the table still.
Continue reading

SITE – Let’s Talk A Few Changes Around Here…

OK, so yours truly has some big news. With Jenna’s blessing, I’ve signed on to provide my coverage of DI NCAA WoSo to the newly rebranded HeroSports.com (formerly Bennett Rank). So what does this actually mean for you, the reader?

If you’re coming here for the occasional NWSL or USWNT stuff, not much. All of that will still be here, including my NWSL Draft Big Boards and coverage. Also, all “out of season” college stuff like recruiting ranking updates, CoachRank, and the AWK College Soccer Awards (OK, that’s not quite out of season) will still be here.

For the hyperventilating coaches, assistants, and even a few players right now, I’m still planning on doing all the stuff I’ve done for the past half-decade on HeroSports, it’s just going to look slightly prettier now. And I’ll actually get around to writing those weekly review columns.

http://woso-stats.tk/college/2015/ – The database with scores and RPI updates is still here, still updating all season long.

And you can always complain to me on twitter: @chris_awk

As always, I’ll be tweeting a lot from that account during the season.