May 20, 2009

WPS Midweek Notes-May 20

Marta's Goal

Two weekends ago, Sky Blue's defense stymied Chicago, shutting them out and drawing the Red Stars into several offside calls. This past weekend, the strategy appeared to be working well again. Sky Blue was holding Los Angeles to a 0-0 tie 80 minutes into Friday's game in Carson. And then, in the blink of an eye, Marta broke through for a goal.

The first time I saw the play I thought that surely Marta must have been offside. Watching the replay, I instead saw that it was an absolutely perfectly timed play, from Camille Abily's pass to Marta's run. It couldn't have been done any better. Marta is so quick to get to full speed and she was a good 5 yards behind the defense before they were able to turn and pursue her. For good measure, she finished it off with a nifty little sidestep move on Sky Blue goalie Jen Branam and then placed the ball neatly into the net for the what proved to be the game winner.

Even after getting that far behind the defense, many players would have panicked and shot early or lost the ball on the dribble. Faced with the keeper running out at her and the defenders chasing from behind, Marta kept her composure, made the move on Branam, and made it look easy. This was certainly one of the prettiest plays in this young season.

Canadian Call Ups

In addition to the 17 WPS players that the US is calling up, the
Canadian National Team has called up 6 WPS players for the upcoming US-Canada match. They are Karina LeBlanc (LA), Martina Franko (LA), Kelly Parker (SBFC), Christine Sinclair (FCGP), Melissa Tancredi (StL), and Candace Chapman (Bos). The Boston Breakers have a bye week, so the call up of Chapman will not affect them.

The United States will face Canada on May 25th in Toronto. It marks the first time that Canada has hosted the United States since 2001. The game was arranged at the last minute after the Japanese National Team cancelled their North American trip due to concerns about the swine flu outbreak.

Scoreless in Chicago

After scoring four goals against the Boston Breakers on April 25th, the Chicago Red Stars have now gone 218 minutes without scoring a goal. Their last goal was scored in the 52nd minute of the Boston game by Brittany Klein.

The Red Stars, who host Athletica this weekend, will be missing several starters due to National Team duty. Marian Dalmy, Lindsay Tarpley, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd will all miss this Saturday's contest. Saint Louis will also be missing several players for that match.

Maryland Via Virginia

Earlier this week, the Washington Freedom
signed Sarah Senty of the University of Virginia to a contract. Senty was drafted by the Freedom, but chose to complete her college studies first. Senty becomes the fifth University of Virginia product on the Washington roster. This is the most from any one college on any team's roster. The other four players are Sarah Huffman, Lori Lindsey, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Alex Singer. Huffman has not played this year due to injury. Sauerbrunn and Singer were teammates of Senty at Virginia.

To make room on the roster for Senty, the Freedom waived Jayme Cargnoni.

Fighting Irish in St. Louis

Speaking of alumni, five Notre Dame players started the April 25th game between Los Angeles and Saint Louis. The Sol started Shannon Boxx and Brittany Bock, while Athletica started Melissa Tancredi, Kerri Hanks, and Elise Weber. A sixth Notre Dame alum, Amanda Cinalli, was unable to play because of an injury. Only 7 schools have as many as five players in the WPS. The University of North Carolina leads with 13, followed by Notre Dame with 10 and Virginia with 8. Portland, Santa Clara, Stanford, and UCLA are the other schools with at least 5 players in the league.

More Suspensions and Fines

The league handed down
two more suspensions stemming from play in the Boston Breakers-Washington Freedom match last Sunday. Christine Latham of Boston was suspended two games and fined $250 for throwing an elbow in that game. The Freedom's Joanna Lohman was suspended for one game, also for an elbow thrown in the same match. It was Lohman's first game of the year.

Boston Coach Tony DiCicco, who
was openly critical of the officiating following the Boston-Washington match, was fined $750 and required to do 4 hours of community service for his comments.

Change of Schedule

There have been two scheduling changes made by WPS in the past couple of days. The major change is that FSC will now broadcast the
Los Angeles Sol-Boston Breaker game on August 9th, the last weekend of the regular season. It replaces the Saint Louis Athletica-FC Gold Pride game, which has now been moved to 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific that evening. That game will conclude the regular season. Apparently, FSC and WPS want to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase the league's two leading scorers, Marta and Kelly Smith.

The other change also involves Saint Louis. Their June 6th game against Sky Blue FC has now been moved to June 7th at 3pm Central Time. Although no reason was given specifically, I'm guessing it has partly to do with the US Men's National Team World Cup qualifier in Chicago that is scheduled for June 6th at Toyota Park in Chicago. The league's other two matches that weekend were already scheduled to be played on June 7th.