April 16, 2010

WPS Weekend Previews - April 17 & 18

Saint Louis Athletica at Chicago Red Stars
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois (Saturday, 7 pm central, 8 pm eastern)

Saint Louis: GK-Hope Solo, Ashlyn Harris; D-Tina Ellertson (probable-hamstring), Kendall Fletcher, Elise Weber, Elaine, Niki Cross; MF-Lori Chalupny (probable-back), Shannon Boxx (probable-hamstring), Carolyn Blank, Aya Miyama, Tina DiMartino, Lindsay Tarpley; F-Eniola Aluko, Madelaine Edlund, India Trotter.
Not active-Daniela (inj), Kristina Larsen (inj), Sarah Wagenfuhr (inj), Erin Walter (NR), Sarah Teegarden (NR), Kati Jo Spisak (NR), Veronica Perez (NR).

Chicago: GK-Jillian Loyden, Kelsey Davis; D-Kate Markgraf, Whitney Engen, Marian Dalmy, Ifeoma Dieke, Natalie Spilger; MF-Brittany Klein, Katie Chapman, Karen Carney, Formiga, Julianne Sitch, Jackie Santacaterina; F-Cristiane, Ella Masar, Kosovare Asllani, Casey Nogueira, Jessica McDonald.
Not active-Rapinoe (ill), Michelle Weissenhofer (NR), Lydia Vandenbergh (NR).

Last Season:
Chicago 1 (Tarpley) @ Saint Louis 0.
Saint Louis 2 (Eniola Aluko, own goal) @ Chicago 0.
Chicago 0 @ Saint Louis 2 (Welch 2).

What To Look For: Both teams had trouble scoring last season, but added several offensive players in the offseason. Last week, the combo of Boxx to Aluko worked well for Saint Louis, connecting twice. Miyama will strongly improve Athletica’s set pieces. Solo earned her 1st shutout in the opener after 8 last season. After giving up a quick goal last week, Chicago was able to play well against Sky Blue, but unable to break through on the scoreboard. Cristiane returns as one of 2009’s biggest offensive threats and the Red Stars have added Asllani. Chapman joins fellow Englishwoman Carney in the midfield, while Markgraf plays first home game after maternity leave in ’09.
Storylines: This is the first meeting between the two teams since the Jill Loyden/Lindsay Tarpley trade in January. Loyden earned two shutouts last year, one in Chicago against the Red Stars. Meanwhile, Tarpley scored the winning goal in last season’s opener. Both teams have players returning to the lineup after problems with international clearance, Madelaine Edlund and Elaine for Athletica and Formiga for the Red Stars. Red Star midfielder Megan Rapinoe is still out with illness.

Sky Blue FC at FC Gold Pride
Castro Valley Athletic Stadium, Castro Valley, California (Saturday, 7 pm pacific, 10 pm eastern)

Sky Blue FC: GK-Karen Bardsley, Ashley Thompson; D-Daphne Koster, Brittany Taylor, Keeley Dowling, Danielle Johnson, Kiersten Dallstream; MF-Yael Averbuch, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Rosana, Kacey White; F-Tasha Kai, Laura Kalmari, Jessica Landström, Katie Schoepfer.
Not active-Anita Asante (inj), Meghan Schnur (inj), Christie Rampone (maternity), Jen Branam (inj), Megan Snell (NR), Angela Salem (NR).

FC Gold Pride: GK-Nicole Barnhart, Brittany Cameron; D-Rachel Buehler, Candace Chapman, Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson, Kaley Fountain, Carrie Dew; MF-Camille Abily, Solveig Gulbrandsen, Marta, Becky Edwards, Kimberly Yokers, Kristen Graczyk; F-Christine Sinclair, Kelley O'Hara, Tiffeny Milbrett, Kiki Bosio.
Not active-Ashley Bowyer (NR), Rosie Tantillo (NR), Erin Guthrie (NR).

Last Season:
Gold Pride 1 (Dew) @ Sky Blue 1 (O'Reilly)
Sky Blue 0 @ Gold Pride 1 (Robinson)
Gold Pride 0 @ Sky Blue 2 (Rosana, Kai)

What To Look For: The injury riddled Sky Blue defense is as thin as it can get. Missing are Rampone, Asante, and Schnur, plus starting keeper Branam. Gold Pride is looking to break through following their 0-2 loss last weekend. Will Coach Montoya move Marta to forward and/or change his 4-3-3 formation? Sky Blue has many offensive weapons with Kai, Kalmari, Landström, Rosana, and O'Reilly. Goalkeeper battle is between USWNT backup Barnhart vs. English National Team backup Bardsley.
Storylines: Gold Pride needs to get their offense untracked, after losing the midfield battle in week 1. Sky Blue is a highly confident side, but will their injuries in the back cause them problems? Gold Pride has 7 rookies on their roster, 5 of whom will be dressed out for this game. Stanford alums Ali Riley and Kelley O'Hara and Santa Clara alum Kiki Bosio play their first home game just miles from where they attended college.

Philadelphia Independence at Boston Breakers
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Sunday, 6 pm eastern) - FSC Game of the Week.

Philadelphia: GK-Karina LeBlanc, Val Henderson; D-Sara Larsson, Nikki Krzysik, Allison Falk, Heather Mitts, Estelle Johnson; MF-Jen Buczkowski, Caroline Seger, Lori Lindsey, Joanna Lohman; F-Amy Rodriguez, Lianne Sanderson, Holmfridur Magnusdottir, Lyndsey Patterson, Karina Maruyama.
Not active-Danesha Adams (NR), Sarah Senty (NR), Carrie Patterson (NR), Gina DiMartino (NR), Kat Reynolds (NR), Robyn Jones (NR).

Boston: GK-Ashley Phillips (probable-ribs), Alyssa Naeher; D-Amy LePeilbet, Kasey Moore, Alex Scott, Stephanie Cox, Jordan Angeli; MF-Maggie Tomecka (questionable-ankle), Kristine Lilly, Leslie Osborne, Kelly Smith, Chioma Igwe; F-Lauren Cheney, Laura Del Rio, Fabiana, Tiffany Weimer, Liz Bogus (probably-hamstring), Analisa Marquez.
Not active-Sarah Walsh (inj), Claire Zimmeck (inj), Michelle Enyeart (inj), Taryn Hemmings (NR).

Last Season: No meetings.

What To Look For: Boston needed a confidence builder after last season's crash and they got it with a win on the road vs. Freedom. Look for the Cheney-Smith-Lilly combination to give Philly's defense trouble. The Independence will look to score after coming close quite a few times last week. Karina LeBlanc will be a major factor, as usual, and will look to add to her career shutout total of 13. Coming off of a solid game, will Ashley Phillips continue as starter after Boston signed her to the active roster? Will Magnusdottir be moved back to forward with Mitts return?
Storylines: Former Breakers Heather Mitts and Amy Rodriguez return to Boston to face their old team, with at least Rodriguez wanting to prove something. Mitts returns from injury after missing the first week and Falk returns after her red card suspension dating back to 2009. English National Team players Lianne Sanderson (Phi), Kelly Smith (Bos), and Alex Scott (Bos) face off against one another. Surprisingly, Boston waived last year's starting keeper, Allison Lipsher.

Atlanta Beat at Washington Freedom
Maryland Soccer Plex, Boyds, Maryland (Sunday, 7 pm eastern)

Atlanta: GK-Allison Whitworth, Brett Maron; D-Kia McNeill, Stacy Bishop, Leigh Ann Robinson, Lauren Sesselmann; MF-Tobin Heath, Angie Kerr, Mami Yamaguchi, McCall Zerboni, Katie Larkin, Sophia Mundy; F-Ramona Bachmann, Johanna Rasmussen, Monica Ocampo, Amanda Cinalli.
Not active-Shelley Thompson (inj), Tracy Hamm (NR), Blakely Mattern (NR), Rebecca Nolin (NR), Marisha Schumacher-Hodge (NR), Mallori Lofton-Malachi (NR).

Washington: GK-Erin McLeod, Briana Scurry; D-Cat Whitehill, Nikki Marshall, Rebecca Moros, Jill Gilbeau, Alex Singer, Kristi Eveland, Marisa Abegg; MF-Sonia Bompastor, Sarah Huffman, Homare Sawa, Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long; F-Abby Wambach, Lene Mykjåland, Lisa De Vanna, Christie Welsh.
Not active-Brittany Bock (inj), Beverly Goebel (inj), Caitlin Miskel (inj), Meagan McCray (NR).

Last Season: No meetings.

What To Look For: Washington's forwards should test Atlanta's inexperienced back line often. Bachmann returns to the lineup and makes her WPS debut, but Thompson is out with an injury. Will Coach Gabarra stick with his lineup changes or will he move Bompastor to the midfield and Moros forward? Whitworth will try to keep Atlanta in the game after shutting out Philadelphia last week. With Bachmann returning and the Freedom's offense matched up against the Beat's defense, look for a lot of scoring.
Storylines: The Freedom's Abby Wambach and the Beat's Kia McNeill had a very physical meeting in their first meeting last year. Wambach was only on the field for 41 minutes for the last two times their teams met and this could be an interesting matchup. Bachman's debut is much anticipated. She earned a goal and an assist in only 35 minutes of her last exhibition match.

Trivia Question (from Wednesday): Of the 6 returning WPS teams, only two started the same goalkeeper as they did in last year's opener. Name the goalkeepers and the teams.
Answer: Hope Solo of Saint Louis Athletica and Nicole Barnhart of FC Gold Pride.
Congratulations to A1 and everyone else who got the correct answer. I'll try to be more challenging next week.