July 15, 2009

WPS Midweek Matches & Notes-July 15th

Two very important matches are scheduled for Wednesday, involving the teams that reside in 3rd through 6th place in the standings. Right now, only two points separate these four teams. Boston and Sky Blue FC are tied for 3rd with 18 points, Chicago has 17, and Washington has 16. The results of these two games could really scramble the playoff picture.

Chicago Red Stars at Boston Breakers

Over the last two weeks, the fortunes of these two teams have changed dramatically. Boston was breezing along in 2nd place and then lost two straight to Sky Blue. Now they are in danger of falling out of the top four, meaning they would be on the outside looking in as far as playoffs go. Chicago, on the other hand, was nearly being counted out. Two consecutive wins have them right back in it.

Make no mistake, Chicago still has their work cut out for them. While they are just a point behind Boston and Sky Blue, they have one less game remaining than those two teams, so they must make the most of the games left. All of a sudden, the Red Stars, or is that Red Star, is scoring goals. Cristiane has scored 6 of Chicago's last 7 goals, including three against FC Gold Pride on Sunday night. It was the first hat trick in league history. Lindsay Tarpley is the Red Stars' 2nd leading scorer with 3 goals.

Boston will likely be missing their leading scorer, Kelly Smith, as the English National Team will be in action on Thursday. Karen Carney of Chicago and Alex Scott of Boston have also been called up. The Breakers had been playing solid defense before giving up 2 goals to Sky Blue on Sunday. Allison Lipsher has allowed less than a goal a game since taking over as the starter. In the last match against Chicago, Kristine Lilly had a goal and an assist and Amy Rodriguez scored her first goal as Boston defeated Chicago 2-0.

This game is important for another reason. The season series between these two teams is tied at one apiece. The winner of this game will take that all important tiebreaker. By losing to Sky Blue, Boston has already lost that season series, so they can ill afford to lose another. Chicago is looking to build on the momentum of their consecutive victories.

Washington Freedom at Sky Blue FC

Like the other matchup, this is a tale of two teams heading in opposite directions. Sky Blue has won two straight, while Washington has lost three straight. The Freedom won the only previous meeting between the two teams by a score of 2-1.

The most potent offense in the league for the first half of the season has become surprisingly quiet as of late. Washington has managed to score just two goals in their last five games. A trio of Washington players are tied for the team lead with 3 goals...Abby Wambach, Sonia Bompastor, and Lisa DeVanna. Keeper Erin McLeod has only given up four goals in her last five games and has kept the Freedom in virtually every game.

Sky Blue has been a team on the move, winning their last two and 3 of their last 4. US National Team striker Natasha Kai and Brazilian Rosana have led the way with three goals for the season. Sky Blue has one of the league's best back lines, but they will be missing English defender Anita Asante for this match. Jenni Branam is now 3rd in the league with 4 shutouts.

Washington has had 10 days off to prepare for this game. They should be a well rested squad. Sky Blue is riding the momentum of consecutive victories over Boston into this game. Both goalkeepers are playing well. This should be an interesting match. The key could be how well the Freedom are able to attack Sky Blue's shorthanded defense.

Midweek Notes

Both the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC recorded their first ever back to back victories after posting wins on Sunday. That leaves FC Gold Pride as the only team that has not won at least two in a row at some point.

Boston-Going into tonight’s game with Chicago, Boston has one game left against each of the other six teams in the WPS…..Fabiana saw her first action of the year against Sky Blue last Sunday…..Kelly Smith leads the league in fouls suffered with 36. She is also among the leaders in fouls committed with 26.

Chicago-Caroline Jönsson has faced 81 shots on goal for the season, which leads the WPS. Jönsson is also the only goalkeeper that has played every minute of every game…..With her hat trick, Cristiane now has six goals, good enough for third best in the league.

FC Gold Pride-FCGP is 0-5-2 over their last 7 games and have been outscored over that time by a margin of 13-4. They have not won a game since Kandace Wilson went down with an injury…..Tiffeny Milbrett converted a penalty kick against the Red Stars for her 3rd goal of the season.

Los Angeles-The Sol have signed defender Sharolta Nonen, a veteran of the Canadian National Team. Nonen played at the University of Nebraska in college…..Aya Miyama leads the WPS with 5 assists…..Los Angeles has only three games remaining, all on the road. Their next match is against FC Gold Pride on July 23rd.

Saint Louis-Eniola Aluko picked up an assist in the May 3rd match against the Freedom after it was reviewed by the league. She is the only player other than Marta to be in the top 6 in both goals and assists…..Athletica have started 19 different players this year. Sarah Walsh is likely to become the 20th as soon as she is fit.

Sky Blue FC-Sky Blue’s five victories for the season have come against just two teams. They have beaten Boston three times and Chicago twice. They are 5-0-1 against those two teams and 0-6-2 against everyone else…..Only Anita Asante and Meghan Schnur have started every game for SBFC. Asante will miss tonight’s game as she will be with the English National Team.

Washington-The Freedom will be trying to avoid their 4th loss in a row on Wednesday. No WPS team has ever lost four in a row…..Washington announced that they have waived Madison Keller. Keller had been with the team since the start of the season on the developmental roster, but had not seen any action.