June 4, 2010

WPS Weekend Previews - June 5 & 6

After a busy week off the field, with free agent signings and a new coach, this weekend's action promises to be just as interesting.

Washington Freedom at FC Gold Pride– June 5 (10 pm ET, 7 pm PT)
Castro Valley Stadium, Castro Valley, CA.

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

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

Previous Meetings (2009):
Washington 4
@ FC Gold Pride 3
FC Gold Pride 1 @ Washington 3
FC Gold Pride 3 @ Washington 2

What to Look For: This is an early season battle for 1st place, with Gold Pride at 15 points and Washington at 13 points. These two teams lit up the scoreboard last season. In the three matches between these two teams, 16 goals were scored. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same kind of scoring in this game. For Washington, Wambach and Sawa both had two goals in this series last season. For Gold Pride, Sinclair and Milbrett both scored twice in the three matches against the Freedom. Gold Pride is on a 6 game unbeaten streak at home and have outscored their opponents by a 7-2 margin in three games at home this season. This is only the Freedom’s third road match, with the first two coming against expansion Philadelphia and Atlanta. Sawa will be back from national team duty, while it appears that Abily will be active for Saturday’s match after being out a month with an ankle injury. The Freedom are thin at forward with both Mykjåland and De Vanna being out with injuries. However, Welsh has filled in ably to this point. Boxx gives Gold Pride an experienced midfielder, which could be key to this match.
Storylines: Boxx returns to the west coast, after beginning this season in St. Louis. Gold Pride will be as healthy as they have been in quite awhile. Wambach continues to be on a tear with 3 goals and 7 assists. It’s a battle for 1st place out in the Bay Area.

Sky Blue FC at Philadelphia Independence – June 6 (6 pm ET)
John A. Ferrell Stadium, West Chester, PA.

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

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

Previous Meetings:
This will be the first meeting between these two teams.

What to Look For: The Independence will be missing two key players in Seger and Mitts. In the only other match Seger did not start, Philadelphia lost to Saint Louis. Philly has scored in each of their last six matches, the longest current streak in WPS, but have only scored more than a goal once. The Independence have three shutouts to their credit and a strong defensive unit. Falk will be key on set pieces at both ends of the field. Sanderson has been coming on as an offensive threat. Lindsey has had a very good season in the midfield with a goal and 4 assists. Sky Blue continues to thrive while being badly outshot by a 133-64 margin. Bardsley has been strong in goal and earned May Player of the Month in WPS. The strong defensive unit is even better with the return of Schnur and Rampone. Kai saw action in the 2nd half last weekend and might start. Kalmari has been Sky Blue’s biggest offensive threat in Kai’s absence. Sky Blue still only has two players to have scored goals this season. The addition of Panico could change that. The two teams have combined for 7 shutouts, so this promises to be a low scoring, defensive battle.
Storylines: These two teams enter the match tied for 3rd place with identical 3-2-2 records. How much will Seger’s two game suspension hurt Philadelphia? With Kai back, will Sky Blue’s offense begin to click?

Atlanta Beat at Chicago Red Stars – June 6 (6 pm ET, 5 pm CT) – Fox Soccer Channel
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL.

Atlanta Beat:
GK-H. Solo, B. Maron; D-K. McNeill, T. Ellertson, L. Robinson, S. Bishop, K. Larkin; MF-M. Yamaguchi, J. Rasmussen, A. Kerr, L. Chalupny, C. Blank, M. Zerboni; F-R. Bachmann, E. Aluko.
Not Active: T. Heath (season-ending ankle injury), M. Ocampo (ankle), S. Thompson (quad), S. Mundy (shin), M. Lofton-Malachi, B. Mattern, R. Nolin, A. Whitworth.

Chicago Red Stars: GK-J. Loyden, K. Davis; D-K. Markgraf, M. Dalmy, W. Engen, N. Spilger, J. Sitch; MF-K. Carney, K. Chapman, Formiga, M. Rapinoe, N. Washington (unlikely-knee); F-Cristiane, K. Asllani (questionable-lower leg), C. Nogueira, E. Masar, J. McDonald.
Not Active: M. Burke, B. Klein, J. Santacaterina, L. Vandenbergh, E. Weber.

Previous Meetings:
This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

What To Look For: This is a matchup of the two lowest scoring teams in WPS. The Beat have scored only two goals this season, while the Red Stars have managed just four. Atlanta is missing several key players to injury, but the big story is that the Beat have swallowed up half of Athletica’s starting lineup, with the additions of Chalupny, Aluko, Ellertson, Solo, and Blank. The paring of Bachmann and Aluko promises to be an exciting combination up top. With the skilled passing of Rasmussen, veteran midfield leadership of Chalupny, and the creativity of Yamaguchi, we may see a turnaround in Atlanta’s fortunes. Solo in goal and Ellertson in back bolster the defensive side. Chicago is coming off of a big win over Gold Pride and looks to make it two in a row. Asllani can be an offensive threat as she showed last week, but she has not been healthy for much of the season. Cristiane has yet to get untracked, but Nogueira does give the Red Stars a bit of a spark. Chicago keeper Loyden is solid, while Markgraf captains the Red Star defense. Rapinoe, Chapman, Carney, and Formiga give Chicago a solid midfield, but they need to start contributing more offense.
Storylines: This will be the 2nd matchup between Athletica’s 2009 goalkeepers, Loyden and Solo, with the first game ending in a 1-1 tie. Will last week’s win turn things around for the Red Stars? How will new Red Star coach Omid Namazi set his lineup for his first WPS match? Will the insertion of all that Athletica talent be enough for Atlanta to make up a 10 point deficit in the standings and compete for a playoff spot?

The Boston Breakers have a bye week.