June 24, 2010

WPS Friday Night - Chicago at Boston

It’s a bit early to call any game a must-win situation, but these two teams are in danger of losing contact with the top four in the table. If the Red Stars and the Breakers want to keep themselves in good position for a playoff spot, this match could be very important.

Chicago Red Stars (2-5-3, 9 pts) at Boston Breakers (1-4-4, 7 pts)
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA – June 25 (7:30 ET, 6:30 CT)

Rosters (note roster report was not available at press time):
Chicago Red Stars: GK-J. Loyden, A. Whitworth, M. Burke; D-K. Markgraf, W. Engen, M. Dalmy, A. Asante, N. Spilger, E. Weber, J. Sitch; MF-Formiga, M. Rapinoe, K. Carney, K. Chapman, N. Washington, L. Vandenbergh, J. Santacaterina; F-Cristiane, K. Asllani, C. Nogueira, E. Masar, J. McDonald.

Boston Breakers: GK-A. Naeher, A. Phillips, A. Lipsher; D-A. LePeilbet, S. Cox, A. Scott, K. Moore; MF-L. Osborne, K. Lilly, K. Smith, J. Angeli, C. Igwe, L. Bogus; F-L. Cheney, L. Tarpley, L. Del Rio, Fabiana, T. Weimer, M. Enyeart, T. Hemmings, A. Marquez.
Not active: S. Walsh.

Previous Meetings (2010):
Chicago 2 @ Boston 0.
The all-time series is tied at 2 wins each.

What to Look for: These two teams met earlier in the season, with Chicago taking a 2-0 result in Boston. In fact, the previous four meetings between the Red Stars and the Breakers have been shutouts.

The Red Stars looked to be turning the corner with a win over first place Gold Pride, followed by two ties, including a come-from-behind effort in Washington. But then they fell on the road to last place Atlanta. Chicago defends very well. Loyden has given up just 9 goals in ten matches and the back line, led by Markgraf, is solid. In the midfield, Chapman and Carney are having good seasons, but Rapinoe still doesn’t appear to be 100% after suffering through a long illness earlier in the season. Chicago’s problem has often been finishing. They have talented strikers with Cristiane, Asllani, and Nogueira, but they need to get more of their shots on frame and test opposing keepers.

Boston is looking for their first home win since last July. They have had just as much trouble scoring as the Red Stars. Generally speaking, if Smith doesn’t score, the Breakers probably won’t. It’s hard to figure with players like Smith, Lilly, Cheney, and Del Rio. The addition of Tarpley could help turn things a bit. She is an unselfish player and is adept at setting up teammates. Cheney is one of the best with her back to the goal, turning on defenders and getting a good shot. But after an early goal in the season opener, she has been largely silent. Like Chicago, the Breakers have a solid back four, led by LePeilbet and Scott. The goalkeeper situation appears to be up in the air. Lipsher lost her starting role to Phillips before the season, but DiCicco started the rookie Naeher in their last match, before she had to come out with an injury.

There are a lot of keys to this match, starting with finishing chances. Both teams have handily outshot their opponents this season, but the back of the net seems to be elusive. Cristiane and Smith are the big scorers. The Red Stars have speed in Asllani and Nogueira can be magical….at times. The latter seems to be best suited as a 2nd half substitution with the game on the line, where she is a clutch goal scorer.

Another key is how well the midfielders link up with their forwards. Chicago seems to be better at attacking from the wings with Carney and Rapinoe, while Lilly offers the same for the Breakers. The Red Stars may have a slight edge in goal with Loyden. In the end, it may be a matter of one of two outside defenders, Dalmy for Chicago and Scott for Boston, getting forward to cause problems that might decide this match.

Trivia Question - Of last year's (2009) first round draft choices in the January draft, who has scored the most career goals?
Answer – Amy Rodriguez now has 5 career goals after scoring on Wednesday night. Just behind is Allie Long of the Freedom with 4. Tina DiMartino, Megan Rapinoe, Brittany Bock, and Kerri Hanks have two. Yael Averbuch, who plays a more defensive role for Sky Blue, has yet to score a goal.