April 18, 2009

Odds and Ends from the WPS-April 18

Two Pivotal Weeks for WPS

This week marks the first time that a couple of teams will be playing their 2nd home games. So far, six teams have played home openers, with the average attendance of those 6 games being 7,030 (information taken from
http://www.womensprosoccer.com/). Obviously, the Los Angeles inaugural match skews this number somewhat, but even without that game, the average was an impressive 5,470, in spite of some fairly nasty weather for games last weekend.

The bad news is that there was a severe dropoff in attendance for Sky Blue, the only team that has played two home games to this point. After drawing over 6000 for their opener, they only had 2,753 for their 2nd game. Certainly, some of this can be attributed to bad weather. Both Los Angeles and Washington will be playing their 2nd home game this weekend. Hopefully, the league will be able to sustain the fan enthusiasm from the openers.

Also of note, Chicago will be playing their home opener at Toyota Park against Sky Blue FC on Sunday. From my standpoint, Chicago fans seem to be very enthusiastic for their team and they brought a fairly large group down to watch the match in Saint Louis two weeks ago. I would expect that they will have a nice crowd on hand tomorrow.

Next week will mark the first time that key players will be missing due to call ups for national team duty. Brazil, England, and Sweden all have international friendlies scheduled and this could affect as many as 15 players on WPS rosters for next week's games. The Brazilian National Team is on a two game European swing where they will face Germany and Sweden. The English National Team faces Norway on Thursday.


Frida Ostberg of the Chicago Red Stars received the dubious honor of getting the first red card in WPS history. Ostberg received a yellow card about 52 minutes into the match against Washington, apparently for arguing a call. Ten minutes later, she received a 2nd yellow card for taking Lisa DeVanna out of bounds in a hard collision. Nikki Krzysik of Chicago had received the league's first yellow card the previous week against Saint Louis.

In spite of their adventure with bookings, Chicago's backline, plus keeper Caroline Jonsson, have played very well so far. Chicago has given up just one goal in two games, including being a player short for over 25 minutes against Washington. Jonsson is making an early bid to be the league's MVP, saving 17 of 18 shots on goal. Additionally, defender Marian Dalmy has assisted on both Chicago goals, scored by Lindsay Tarpley.

FC Gold Pride at Los Angeles

Los Angeles seems to be stuck in a rut, but in their case, it's a good thing. In the preseason, the Sol twice blanked FC Gold Pride by a 2-0 score. In their inaugural match, they defeated Washington 2-0 and then followed that up with a 2-0 victory over Sky Blue FC. They will attempt to continue that trend on Sunday afternoon against FC Gold Pride at The Home Depot Center in Carson.

Los Angeles has a lot of offensive weapons, most notably Marta, 3-time FIFA women's player of the year. Karina LeBlanc has been strong in goal for the Sol. FC Gold Pride has been a surprisingly strong club, blending youth with experience for a win and a tie in two games. Ageless stars Brandi Chastain and Tiffeny Milbrett have both contributed more than anyone could have expected. I look for Los Angeles to win, but I think they will finally surrender a goal.

Sky Blue FC at Chicago

Chicago has featured strong defense and solid goalkeeping thus far, but they will be without the services of Frida Ostberg this week. For Sky Blue, Christie Rampone missed last week's game due to injury and it is unknown whether she will be ready to go this week.

The question for the Red Stars is whether they will be able to continue to withstand constant pressure and keep their opponents off the scoreboard. Jonsson and the defense have been great, but eventually some of these chances are going to find the back of the net. I think that a low scoring tie is not out of the question here.

Boston at Washington

Boston's Kelly Smith has scored a goal in each of her first two games. Abby Wambach has yet to find the back of the net for Washington. The Freedom did play a solid game against Chicago last week and one has to believe that Sonia Bompastor and Wambach will eventually connect for a goal. Bompastor has played very well in the first two games and she assisted on Becky Sauerbrunn's goal last week. For the Breakers, number one draft pick Amy Rodriguez is still be looking for her first WPS goal.

Again, I look for a close game here and one that might include quite a bit of scoring, including Wambach's first WPS goal.

Saint Louis Athletica has a bye week and will return to action next week against Los Angeles.