July 27, 2009

WPS Playoff Picture-And Then There Were 5

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture in the WPS is still not very clear. Five teams are left with a chance, including Los Angeles which has clinched the regular season championship and will host the final. Chicago and Gold Pride were eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend. That leaves four other teams vying for the last three spots. The only thing that is completely certain is that a Boston victory over Washington on Wednesday would clinch a playoff spot for both Boston and Saint Louis. The interesting thing is that one of the teams eliminated, FC Gold Pride, will influence on that playoff race greatly since they still have games left with Washington, Sky Blue, and Saint Louis. Here's a look at the remaining schedule and each team's chances.

Saint Louis (27 points; Aug. 1 Boston; Aug. 5 Chicago; Aug. 9 at FCGP)-Athletica was within minutes of clinching a playoff spot at home on Sunday night, but a late goal left them disappointed. While they're still in good position, it's no sure thing yet. As mentioned above, a Boston victory over Washington would clinch Saint Louis a playoff spot. But if that doesn't happen, Athletica may still need to get a point or two on their own. They host the Breakers next Saturday in what could be a battle for 2nd place and potentially a preview of a playoff game. Their last two games are against teams that have been eliminated, but as Gold Pride proved their last two games, that isn't necessarily an easy task. Athletica has won the tiebreaker over Sky Blue, but lost the tiebreaker to Washington. I'd still put their chances at about 95%.

Boston (25 points; Jul. 29 at Washington; Aug. 1 at Saint Louis; Aug. 9 Los Angeles)-They can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Washington, but anything less than that, and it's still up in the air. They have the toughest schedule remaining by far, playing two of their fellow contenders on the road and then hosting Los Angeles on the final day of the season. Their two point margin over Washington and Sky Blue is pretty slim. They have the tiebreaker over Washington, but have lost the tiebreaker to Sky Blue. I would say that their chances are about 80%.

Washington (23 points; Jul. 29 Boston; Aug. 1 at FCGP; Aug. 8 Sky Blue FC)-They have the advantage of playing two of their rivals at home, but their home field advantage hasn't been all that big at 3-2-4. With their three competitors all tying over the weekend, they picked up points on everyone. The game coming up on Wednesday against the Breakers is huge, not only for those two teams, but for Saint Louis and Sky Blue as well. The Freedom is presently tied with Sky Blue, but they have a game in hand. Washington has won the tiebreaker over Saint Louis, but has lost the tiebreaker to Boston. I would put the Freedom's chances at about 85%.

Sky Blue FC (23 points; Aug. 5 FCGP; Aug. 8 at Washington)-They are the only team left that doesn't have complete control over their own destination with respect to making the playoffs. Conceivably, they could win both remaining games, and still lose out in a 3-way tiebreaker with Saint Louis and Washington. Sky Blue has only two games remaining, while the other teams have three. They have a week and a half to rest up for their next game against Gold Pride. SBFC has clinched the tiebreaker over Boston, but has lost the tiebreaker to Athletica. Their margin for error at this point is nearly zero. I'm putting their playoff chances at about 40%.

And Then There Were 5-Part 2

With injuries and national team call ups, there are now only five players remaining that have played every minute of their team's games. They are Kristine Lilly (Boston), Caroline J├Ânsson (Chicago), Aya Miyama (Los Angeles), Becky Sauerbrunn (Washington), and Homare Sawa (Washington).

Weekend Round Up

Boston 0, Sky Blue 0-The two playoff contenders battled to a scoreless draw in Boston on Saturday.

Washington 3, Chicago 2-Abby Wambach scored twice and Allie Long scored the game winner in the 89th minute in a crucial victory for the Freedom. Megan Rapinoe and Karen Carney scored goals for Chicago.

Saint Louis 1, FC Gold Pride 1-Saint Louis took the lead on a 1st half goal by Niki Cross and were within minutes of clinching a playoff berth, but Christine Sinclair scored her 6th goal of the season to tie the match in the 87th minute.