August 12, 2009

WPS Midweek Notes-Playoff Edition

After roughly four and a half months of soccer, the playoffs are here. Sky Blue FC will head back to Washington to play the Freedom in the playoff opener on Saturday. The winner will play Saint Louis in the Super Semifinal next Wednesday and the winner of that match will play Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center on August 22nd.

The toughest road to the championship is obviously Sky Blue's. First, they would have to beat three quality opponents, all on the road. Second, their record against those three teams is a combined 0-7-2. Third, their road record for the season is just 2-6-2.

The hottest two teams heading into the playoffs are Washington, 4-1 over their last 5 matches, and Saint Louis, 3-0-2 in their last five. Los Angeles and Sky Blue are both 2-2-1 in their last five matches.

Players Expected To Miss the Playoffs Due to the Euros:

Los Angeles-Camille Abily (8 goals, 1 assist)
Saint Louis-Eniola Aluko (6 goals, 4 assists), Sara Larsson (starting defender)
Washington-Sonia Bompastor (4 goals, 6 assists)
Sky Blue FC-Anita Asante (starting defender)

Sky Blue FC Notes

-Both Natasha Kai and Kacey White had their only two goal games of the year against Washington.
-Sky Blue has given up two or more goals in just 5 games this season. Three of those games were against the Freedom, one against Los Angeles, and one against Saint Louis.
-Rosana and Natasha Kai are getting hot at the right time. Rosana has scored in each of her last two games, while Kai has scored 4 goals in the last 6 matches she has played.
-Anita Asante, who will miss the playoffs because of the Euros, also missed 4 of the last 6 regular season games because of a call up for the English national team and suspension for yellow card accumulation. Sky Blue was 2-1-1 in those 4 matches.
-In six matches against Los Angeles and Saint Louis, Sky Blue scored a total of one goal. That goal was scored by Julianne Sitch in Sky Blue's home match against Athletica.
-Sky Blue is 4-0-1 when scoring two or more goals.
-Sky Blue's longest winning streak of the year was just two games and they did that only once. They did have a four game unbeaten streak which includes those two victories.

Washington Freedom Notes

-Washington has won the season series over both Sky Blue and Saint Louis with a total record of 4-0-2 against those two opponents.
-Sonia Bompastor has scored against all three of the other playoff teams, but she will be missing for the playoffs due to the Euros. In fact, Bompastor scored all four of her goals against those three teams.
-The first round matchup will feature Lisa DeVanna who has just eaten up Sky Blue's defense, scoring 4 goals with an assist against New Jersey.
-Washington scored 9 of the 20 goals scored against Sky Blue this year in just 3 games.
-Washington won their last three home games heading into the playoffs.
-Abby Wambach has scored 5 goals in her last four matches, all of which came after her return from scoring her 100th goal for the USWNT.
-Wambach is the only player in the WPS to have scored two goals in three different matches.

Saint Louis Athletica Notes

-Of the three potential opponents for LA in the final, Saint Louis has the best record against the Sol going 1-2-1 in four contests.
-Saint Louis swept the season series, winning all three from Sky Blue, but went winless at 0-2-1 against the Freedom.
-Saint Louis is the only team to have shut out Los Angeles twice this season.
-Athletica has a total of 9 goals and 7 assists against the other 3 playoff teams, but most of that scoring will be missing. Eniola Aluko (3 goals, 4 assists) will be in Europe, Kerri Hanks (1 goal, 1 assist) is now with Sky Blue, and Daniela (2 goals) is injured and will probably play very little, if at all, in the playoffs.
-After not playing for five consecutive games, Christie Welsh scored 3 goals in the final two matches of the year.
-15 of Athletica's 20 regular season games ended in a shutout for one team or both.

Los Angeles Sol Notes

-By scoring against Boston in the final game of the regular season, Marta became the only WPS player to score a goal against each of the six other teams in the league.
-Los Angeles shut out Sky Blue all three matches they played, going 2-0-1.
-Karina LeBlanc, who has 12 shutouts, has been noticeably under more pressure late in the season. After giving up an average of 3.67 shots on goal over the first 12 matches, the Sol have given up an average of 6.13 shots on goal in their last 8 matches.
-Aya Miyama, who tied for the most assists in the WPS with 6, was the only Los Angeles player to play every minute of every match for them.
-Los Angeles gave up more than one goal only twice this season and lost both matches.
-The Sol played 4 scoreless ties this season, the most by any team.
-Two players, Marta and Camille Abily, combined for 18 of the Sol's 27 goals, 66.7% of their total offense.

Later in the week, I'll preview the Washington Freedom-Sky Blue FC playoff match.