June 25, 2010

WPS Weekend Preview - June 26-27

Washington Freedom (4-2-3, 15 pts) at Philadelphia Independence (5-3-3, 18 pts)
John A. Ferrell Stadium, West Chester, PA – June 26 (6 pm ET)

Washington: GK-E. McLeod, A. Harris; D-C. Whitehill, B. Sauerbrunn, N. Marshall, R. Moros, A. Singer, B. Bock; MF-S. Bompastor, H. Sawa, S. Huffman, A. Long, B. Goebel; F-A. Wambach, L. Mykjåland, C. Welsh.
Not Active: J. Gilbeau, M. McCray, M. Abegg, K. Eveland, C. Miskel, L. DeVanna (season-ending injury).

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Washington 1 @ Philadelphia 3
Philadelphia 1 @ Washington 2

What to Look for – These two teams have met twice previously, with the home team winning each time. Philadelphia was the last team to defeat the Freedom back in Week 3. In the surprise of the week, if the WPS roster report is correct, Adams is listed as not active for Philadelphia for this match. Keep in mind, however, that these things can change.

The Freedom have had a couple of weeks to rest up for this one. The formula for Washington is to score early. They have scored the first goal in every match this season, except the two against Boston. Their last five goals have been in the 1st half. Wambach is obviously the focus of the offense, but the Freedom spread their scoring around very well. Eight different players have goals for them this season. With De Vanna out, other players seem to have stepped up their game. Mykjåland, Long, Sawa, and Welsh can all score. Bompastor controls things in the middle for the Freedom. Whitehill and Sauerbrunn provide solid defense. Marshall is having a solid rookie season. McLeod has two shutouts to her credit.

Philadelphia continues to hold on to 2nd place. On offense, it’s all about speed for the Independence. Rodriguez is having an amazing season for the expansion team, while Sanderson and Patterson are always threats. Lindsey and Seger are the two mainstays of the midfield, but DiMartino has played very well since coming over from St. Louis. Early in the season, the defense was winning matches for Philadelphia, but they have given up 9 goals in the last five matches. LeBlanc is good in goal, but maybe not as sharp as last season. The Independence boasts a lot of experience on their back line.

Falk and Larsson must contain Wambach if Philly is to win this match. The battle in the midfield, especially between Lindsey and Bompastor could be quite interesting and a little on the feisty side. The two former teammates can both go at it pretty well. With all their speed, Philadelphia could get some chances behind the Freedom defense, but will they convert?

Storylines: Canada’s two top keepers, McLeod and LeBlanc, oppose each other in this one. Washington is on a six game unbeaten streak, but Philadelphia is the last team to defeat them. The Independence are 3-1-1 at home, while the Freedom’s only road win has come against the expansion Atlanta Beat. Rodriguez could be the key. She has three goals and three assists in Philly’s five wins, her only other goal coming Wednesday in a game the Independence were seconds from winning. It’s a battle for 2nd place on Saturday.

Sky Blue FC (4-4-2, 14 pts) at Gold Pride FC (7-2-1, 22 pts)
Pioneer Stadium, Hayward, CA – June 27 (6 pm ET, 3 pm PT) Fox Soccer Channel

Sky Blue FC:
GK-Karen Bardsley, K. Luckenbill; D-C. Rampone, D. Koster, M. Schnur, B. Taylor, K. Fletcher; MF-Y. Averbuch, H. O’Reilly, Rosana, K. White, I. Trotter; F-T. Kai, L. Kalmari, J. Landström, K. Dallstream.
Not Active: J. Branam (knee), K. Dowling, D. Johnson, S. Myers, A. Salem, K. Schoepfer.

FC Gold Pride: GK-N. Barnhart, B. Cameron; D-R. Buehler, C. Chapman, A. Riley, K. Wilson, K. Graczyk; MF-S. Boxx, B. Edwards, C. Abily, S. Gulbrandsen, C. Dew, K. Yokers; F-Marta, C. Sinclair, K. O’Hara, T. Milbrett, K. Bosio.
Not Active: K. Fountain, E. Guthrie, R. Tantillo.

Previous Meetings (2010):
Sky Blue FC 1 @ FC Gold Pride 3
FC Gold Pride 1 @ Sky Blue FC 0
FC Gold Pride leads the all-time series with a 3-1-1 record.

What to Look for: Sky Blue has lost four games to two teams this seasons, Gold Pride and Philadelphia. A loss would put Sky Blue 11 points behind Gold Pride, so if SBFC is to have any realistic hope of finishing atop WPS in the regular season, they must at least gain a point in this one. New Jersey is coming off of a horrible 4-1 loss last weekend and must turn things around. Their last two goals have come on Rosana penalty kicks, something they can’t rely on a consistent basis. The return of Kalmari, Landström, and Koster should help considerably. Kalmari has four of the seven goals that Sky Blue has scored in the normal run of play. What was once considered one of the finest defenses in the league has given up a ton of shots and four multi-goal games against. Bardsley has been top notch, but the onslaught of pressure and shots has to be wearing her down. Rampone’s leadership could be key to this squad holding it together, much as it was last season.

On the other hand, Gold Pride seems to be gliding along. The only time they lose is if they don’t score, which doesn’t happen very often. They have an opportunity to stretch their lead to 7 points at home, where they have been unbeatable this season with a 4-0-1 record. Offensively, Gold Pride has more options than any other team with Marta, Sinclair, O’Hara, and Milbrett. The addition of Boxx and the return of Abily give them a strong midfield as well. Rookies Riley and Edwards have helped contribute to a strong defensive effort to go along with veterans Buehler and Chapman. Barnhart now leads the league in goalkeeping.

For Sky Blue to win, they will have to play smart defensively and Bardsley will have to be on top of her game. Sky Blue seems to have problems against teams with a lot of speed, with Gold Pride being on the top of that list. With Boxx and Abily in the middle, it will be difficult for Sky Blue to exert any kind of control of possession. Considering that SBFC is allowing nearly 20 shots per game, Marta and company should get opportunities.

Storylines: Gold Pride’s home unbeaten string is now at 8 games. Both Marta and Sinclair have double digit career goals now. Dowling, who has started 24 matches for Sky Blue in her career, is listed as not rostered for this match. Can Kai, who has been plagued by injuries, once again become an offensive force?