August 5, 2009

Sky Blue Ties for 3rd Place, Defeats Gold Pride 2-0

Sky Blue FC got 2nd half goals from Rosana and Natasha Kai to give them a 2-0 home victory over FC Gold Pride. Sky Blue outshot Gold Pride by 22-6 for the match. Christie Rampone got her first victory as head coach and did double duty by playing the full 90 on defense. The win moves Sky Blue into a tie for 3rd place with the Washington Freedom at 26 points. Boston is one point behind at 25 points, in 5th place. All three teams have one match left and all three teams have their fate in their own hands. On Saturday, Sky Blue FC will travel to Washington to meet the Freedom. On Sunday, Boston will host Los Angeles.

Washington will clinch 3rd place with a win and a playoff spot with a tie against Sky Blue. Sky Blue will clinch 3rd place with a win over the Freedom. Boston will clinch a playoff berth with a win over Los Angeles. Sky Blue has the tiebreaker edge over Boston and Boston has the tiebreaker edge over Washington.

So here are the details of the possible outcomes:

If Washington beats Sky Blue and Boston beats Los Angeles, then Washington will finish 3rd and Boston 4th.
If Washington beats Sky Blue and Boston ties or loses to Los Angeles, then Washington will finish 3rd and Sky Blue will finish 4th.
If Washington and Sky Blue tie and Boston wins, Boston would finish 3rd and Washington 4th based on their tiebreaker edge over Sky Blue.
If Washington and Sky Blue tie and Boston ties or loses, Washington would finish 3rd and Sky Blue 4th.
If Sky Blue defeats Washington and Boston beats LA, Sky Blue would finish 3rd and Boston 4th.
If Sky Blue defeats Washington and Boston ties LA, Sky Blue would finish 3rd and Boston would finish 4th based on their tiebreaker edge on Washington.
If Sky Blue defeats Washington and Boston loses, then Sky Blue is 3rd and Washington 4th.

Saint Louis Athletica 2, Chicago Red Stars 0

Christie Welsh, starting her first match since June, scored a goal in each half to lead Athletica to a 2-0 victory over the visiting Red Stars.

Saint Louis played quite a few reserves in the match after clinching 2nd place on Saturday. Athletica rested Eniola Aluko, Amanda Cinalli, Sara Larsson, and Angie Woznuk, while Chicago was missing injured starters Ifeoma Dieke and Lindsay Tarpley. Lori Chalupny only played the 1st half for Saint Louis.

The first 10 minutes of the match were without flow with neither side taking control. However, Chicago started gaining some momentum and grabbed the edge in play over the next 20 minutes. In the 21st minute, a Megan Rapinoe cross was headed wide by Ella Masar. Shortly afterward, Marian Dalmy made a nice run up the right side and crossed again to Masar who shot just wide.

It was Athletica that struck first in the 32nd minute as Sarah Walsh hit a cross from the right side. Nikki Krzysik was barely able to get a glancing header in an attempt to clear, but the ball went right to Christie Welsh who was closing in from the back side and Welsh finished with a low shot perfectly placed in the corner of the net. It was Welsh's first goal of the season, but she wasn't through yet.

In the 63rd minute, Kendall Fletcher dispossessed a Chicago player in Athletica's penalty area and started a counterattack. The ball came to Welsh, who passed to Sarah Walsh. Walsh hit a pass to the corner with Melissa Tancredi running on to it perfectly and she hit a cross. It eluded defenders once again to a charging Welsh who again placed a perfect low shot past Caroline Jonsson.

The Red Stars had a couple of late chances, but were unable to break through. A Carli Lloyd free kick from about 27 yards went just wide in the 80th minute. A Danesha Adams cross seemed dangerous a minute later, but the Red Stars were unable to get a shot out of it. In the 84th minute, Ella Masar hit a shot from about 12 yards out, but right at Hope Solo.

The victory completed a nice homestand for Saint Louis in which they tallied three victories and a tie. It was the 8th shutout of the season for Hope Solo. It also marked the first time Athletica had scored 2 goals at home. In addition to Welsh, who did a nice job of finishing on both goals, Athletica got very good play out Erin Walter and Lisa Stoia, two players that are not normally in the starting lineup. Sarah Walsh got her first start for Saint Louis and although she didn't have any dangerous shots, her speed and passing up front made a big impact. Kendall Fletcher played very well as did the Athletica back line. For Chicago, it was a nice effort but they seemed just a little out of sync. Ostberg, Klein, Rapinoe, and Masar all played well, but to no avail.

Chicago finishes the season with 5-10-5 record good for 20 points and 6th place at the moment. Saint Louis finishes its regular season at FC Gold Pride on Sunday. Their record stands at 10-6-3, good for 33 points and 2nd place.