July 28, 2010

Expansion Night! Beat Make It Three in a Row; Philly Wins Easily

I guess now that we are two thirds of the way through their opening season, we shouldn't be calling them expansion teams anymore. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia posted wins over established teams in midweek WPS action.

Philadelphia Independence 3, Chicago Red Stars 0

Amy Rodriguez almost single-handedly destroyed the Red Stars, scoring two goals and adding an assist, as Philadelphia defeated Chicago 3-0 in West Chester tonight. Make that 11 goals now for the speedy forward out of USC, who appears to be on a mission this season after a rather disappointing rookie campaign in 2009.

Rodriguez scored both of her goals before the intermission and then assisted on Caroline Seger's goal early in the 2nd half to put the match away. It was Seger's first WPS goal. Val Henderson posted the shutout for Philadelphia, as Chicago managed just a single shot on frame.

The only downside to the evening for Philadelphia was a red card ejection to Holmfridur Magnusdottir very late in the match. Magnusdottir will miss at least one contest.

The victory puts Philadelphia eight points clear of third place Boston. The Red Stars are still just a single point out of fourth place, but have played more games than every other team in the league.

Atlanta Beat 3, Washington Freedom 2

In a match that went back and forth throughout, Atlanta made it three wins in a row with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Freedom. Monica Ocampo starred, scoring the tying goal in the 67th minute, followed by the game winning goal in the 88th minute.

Atlanta opened the scoring in the first half, with Johanna Rasmussen scoring on an unassisted goal in the 20th minute. It was Rasmussen's third goal of the season.

The score stayed that way until late in the 1st half. Nikki Marshall scored the tying goal assisted by Homare Sawa in the 41st minute. The Freedom could have grabbed the lead before halftime, but Sonia Bompastor sent a penalty kick over the bar and the score remained tied at one going into the break.

Washington struck first in the second half, with Abby Wambach setting up Sarah Huffman, a second half substitution. Huffman finished to put the Freedom up 2-1. But the lead was only to last a couple of minutes, as Ocampo tied the score shortly thereafter, leading to her game-winner late in the match.

Freedom coach Jim Gabarra started Ashlyn Harris in net for the injured Erin McLeod. Gabarra made several changes to his lineup, moving Bompastor to the back line, starting Kristi Eveland, while leaving veteran Cat Whitehill on the bench. Nikki Marshall, who played defender most of the early part of the season, has shown the ability to score since being moved forward.

Meanwhile, neither Eni Aluko nor Ramona Bachmann played for the Beat. Ocampo and Mami Yamaguchi started up front for coach Gareth O'Sullivan and Atlanta.

While still in 7th place, Atlanta has moved to within a point of Chicago and Washington with games in hand against both teams. The Freedom suffered their fourth straight loss and are now winless in their last nine matches.

1) FC Gold Pride (12-3-1, 37 pts); 2) Philadelphia (8-5-3, 27 pts); 3) Boston (5-6-4, 19 pts); 4) Sky Blue FC (5-7-3, 18 pts); 5) Washington (4-7-5, 17 pts); 6) Chicago (4-8-5, 17 pts); 7) Atlanta (4-7-4, 16 pts).