June 22, 2010

WPS Midweek - Philadelphia Independence at Atlanta Beat

The two expansion teams take center stage in the first WPS midweek match of 2010. Both are coming off of successful weekends.

Philadelphia Independence (5-3-2, 17 pts) at Atlanta Beat (1-5-2, 5 pts)
KSU Stadium, Kennesaw, GA - June 23 (6:30 ET)

Philadelphia: GK-K. LeBlanc, V. Henderson; D-A. Falk, H. Mitts, N. Krzysik, S. Senty, E. Johnson; MF-J. Buczkowski, L. Lindsey, J. Lohman, T. DiMartino; F-A. Rodriguez, L. Sanderson, L. Patterson, D. Adams, K. Maruyama.
Not Active: H. Magnusdottir (national team), S. Larsson (national team), C. Seger (national team), G. DiMartino, K. Reynolds, R. Jones.

Atlanta: GK-H. Solo, B. Maron; D-T. Ellertson, K. McNeill, L. Robinson, S. Bishop, K. Larkin; MF-M. Yamaguchi, A. Miyama, A. Kerr, L. Chalupny, M. Zerboni, R. Nolin, C. Blank (unlikely-knee); F-E. Aluko, M. Ocampo, A. Cinalli.
Not Active: R. Bachmann (national team), J. Rasmussen (national team), M. Lofton-Malachi.

Previous Meetings (2010):
Atlanta 0 @ Philadelphia 0
Atlanta 0 @ Philadelphia 1

What to Look For: Philadelphia enters the match coming off a big win over Sky Blue, in 2nd place with a chance to close within two points of Gold Pride. There are plenty of things to like about the Independence attack these days. The have plenty of speed, led by Rodriguez, who is having a solid season with 3 goals and 3 assists. Adams had a great game last weekend with a goal and two assists. Sanderson and Patterson have played well, too. Lindsey directs the show in the midfield with 2 goals and 5 assists. DiMartino has scored in consecutive games since coming over from St. Louis. Although they have yielded more goals as of late, Philly still boasts a solid defense led by Falk in the middle and LeBlanc in goal. The Independence will still be missing three European starters for this match in Seger, Larsson, and Magnusdottir.

Atlanta has scored less goals this season than the Independence did last weekend and scoring is still a problem for this young club. But the situation isn't as dire as it appeared three weeks ago and a victory would lift the Beat out of last place for the first time this year. Aluko returns to give them a scoring punch and she will team with Ocampo up front. The midfield group is now one of the best in the league with Miyama, Yamaguchi, Chalupny, and Kerr. Solo is expected back for this match and she and Maron have shut out their last two opponents. The addition of Ellertson, who scored Atlanta's goal over the weekend, has helped solidify the defense. Bachmann and Rasmussen will miss this game on national team duty.

These two teams played two low scoring match earlier this year, but it could be very interesting this time around. Atlanta now has a midfield which can control possession and create chances. In her first match with the Beat, her teammates had trouble connecting with Aluko. If they can in this match, her speed should give the Indepedence problems. But Philadelphia has speed of their own to counter with. Ellertson has given Atlanta the speed and experience it was lacking on their back line. I expect another close match, but we may see a lot of scoring chances in this one.

Storylines: It is the third meeting between the two expansion teams with the only goal being scored so far by Philadelphia's Lindsey. For 2010, in the previous meeting between last year's two top keepers, Solo came out on top over LeBlanc in a 2-1 win. After not scoring in her first 24 WPS matches, T. DiMartino has scored in consecutive matches. Philadelphia has a 9 match scoring streak, only two short of a record set by St. Louis earlier in the season. Can Adams repeat her success of a few days ago? Can Atlanta climb out of last place?