July 1, 2010

Captain Marta Scores Twice and Wins All-Star Game MVP

Marta scored two early goals to lead the Marta XI to a 5-2 All-Star Game victory over the Abby XI. The game was played at KSU Stadium, home of the Atlanta Beat before 4610 fans.

Marta got her team on the board just 7 minutes in with what amounted to be a breakaway, hitting it lower left to beat goalkeeper Hope Solo. Just a minute later, she went one-on-one against Amy LePeilbet on the left side the box, getting free for a left footed shot that beat Solo inside the post to make the margin 2-0.

Christine Sinclair made it 3-0 on a rebound after Solo had made a diving save on Allison Falk's shot from about 10 yards out. Sinclair had scored two goals in the 2009 All-Star Game.

The Abby XI finally scored late in the 1st half, with the goal once again coming on a rebound. Abby Wambach drove a hard header that Erin McLeod was able to block, but Eniola Aluko was on the rebound and was able to slot it just inside the post to cut the lead to two goals before halftime.

The score stayed that way until the 74th minute when Aya Miyama made it 4-1 for the Marta XI. Miyama, who has not scored a regular season or playoff goal, got one in front of her home crowd in Atlanta.

On what was perhaps the prettiest goal of the night, Heather O'Reilly crossed the ball from the left flank and Lauren Cheney timed her run perfectly with a beautiful header past Nicole Barnhart to once again cut the lead to two. However, Amy Rodriguez finished the scoring just minutes later to put the Marta XI ahead 5-2.

Marta was name the MVP of the All-Star Game presented by U. S. Coast Guard Reserve.

Bardsley Out Indefinitely

Sky Blue goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was injured while training for the All-Star Game. She suffered what was described as a clavicle injury while participating in a 7-on-7 scrimmage in training on Tuesday.

Bardsley, who plays for the English National Team, had been chosen as a starter for the All-Star Game. She has already posted five shutouts this season and is the WPS leader in goals against average at 0.90 goals per game. In spite of the injury, she attended the All-Star Game with her arm in a sling, cheering for her teammates.

Bardsley will be out indefinitely which will surely deal a blow to Sky Blue's playoff hopes. The defending champions had lost last year's starter, Jen Branam, to an injury before the season started. In the only 2010 Sky Blue game not started by Bardsley, Kristin Luckenbill had surrendered four goals to Philadelphia just a couple of weeks ago.

Rodriguez Is Player of the Week

With all of the All-Star Game festivities, it was almost easy to overlook the Player of the Week award which went to Amy Rodriguez. Rodriguez scored two goals in Philadelphia's 3-2 victory over the Washington Freedom last weekend. She now has six goals for the season which is tied with Marta for the WPS lead in that category. The victory pushed the Independence to within one point of 1st place FC Gold Pride.

To celebrate the award, Rodriguez scored yet another goal in Wednesday's All-Star Game. The offseason trade with Boston that brought her to the Independence was questioned by many at the time, but she is proving the critics wrong with a spectacular season so far in 2010.

Boston Signs Dieke

The Boston Breakers have announced the signing of defender Ifeoma Dieke. Dieke is a member of the Scottish National Team and is a WPS veteran. Dieke played the entire 2009 season for the Chicago Red Stars, where she was a starter on their back line. After starting five matches in 2010, she was waived by the Red Stars. The Breakers, who appear to be shaking up their roster, signed the 29 year old defender to help shore up their defense. Dieke played her college soccer at Florida International.