July 11, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up - Gold Pride Opens Up Lead

This weekend's action saw FC Gold Pride open up a 7 point margin between themselves and 2nd place Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the race for the 3rd and 4th playoff spots has tightened considerably, while Atlanta appears to cemented their hold on the bottom position. All this on a weekend when many players were missing on national team duty.

FC Gold Pride 3, Washington 2

Gold Pride opened up a comfortable 3-0 lead and then held on for the victory at Pioneer Stadium. Marta added to her league leading goal total by two and she has now matched her 2009 total of ten.

Gold Pride got on the board first on a very questionable penalty call. Christine Sinclair was battling with Beverly Goebel for the ball in the Freedom penalty area, when it appeared that Sinclair nudged Goebel to the ground and then proceeded to trip over Goebel after doing so. The worst that can be said of Goebel on the play is that she allowed Sinclair to outmuscle her, but other than that, she did nothing foul worthy. Marta easily converted the penalty to put Gold Pride up 1-0.

Perhaps in part because of that call and in part the lack of a call when Sonia Bompastor was shoved to the ground while heading toward the Gold Pride goal just minutes later, Jim Gabarra was not happy and was promptly asked to leave the premises by the head referee. The half ended in a 1-0 lead for FCGP.

Gold Pride dominated possession for much of this match. It finally paid off in the 65th minute as Sinclair crossed the ball to Marta, who settled, manoeuvred around Erin McLeod, and guided the ball into the net.

In the 71st minute, Gold Pride stretched it out to 3-0 as Camille Abily crossed the ball to the back post and Sola Gulbrandsen headed it home past McLeod. Gulbrandsen, who will returning to Norway after next week's game, scored her first WPS goal.

Despite creating more chances, Gold Pride also got a little sloppy defensively in the final 12 minutes of the match. Washington got on the board as Brittany Bock placed a nice cross to Lene Mykjåland who volleyed it perfectly past Pride keeper Brittany Cameron.

Washington continued to knock on the door. Nikki Marshall got behind the defense on a long ball by Bompastor, but her shot went wide as there appeared to be quite a bit of contact from defender Carrie Dew. Just minutes later, Marshall again got behind the defense again, only to have her arm grabbed by Dew just outside the penalty area, her shot going just wide and no call being made.

Marshall was finally able to score one as Gold Pride defenders Kandace Wilson and Candace Chapman collided with each other. She made her way to the penalty area and finished lower left to cut the lead to 3-2. Unfortunately for the Freedom, it was too little, too late.

Gold Pride now has a seven point lead. They will host 2nd place Philadelphia next weekend. The Freedom travels to Boston for their next match.

Boston 3, Atlanta 1

Atlanta scored first, but Boston fought back with three quick goals to open the 2nd half and they cruised to a 3-1 victory over the Beat. The win kept the Breakers from falling into a tie for last place and put them somewhat back into playoff contention.

Atlanta scored the only first half goal with Johanna Rasmussen getting her second goal in as many games, this one assisted by Eniola Aluko. Atlanta went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

It didn't take long for the Breakers to assert themselves in the 2nd half, scoring in the 49th, 53rd, and 54th minute before the Beat knew what hit them. Jordan Angeli got her 2nd goal of the season on an assist from Leslie Osborne to tie the game. Then Kelly Smith and Liz Bogus scored nearly back-to-back to give the Breakers a two goal margin. For Bogus it was her first WPS goal and it came just a couple weeks after she was moved from full-roster status to developmental status.

It was the first Breakers home victory since July 15, 2009 and their first consecutive victories this season.

The Breakers remain in 6th place, but with Washington losing, they move to within four points of a playoff spot. They will host Washington next weekend. Atlanta continues to struggle, as they travel to New Jersey to face Sky Blue in their next match.

Chicago 2, Sky Blue FC 0

The Red Stars dominated this match, outshooting the defending champs by a 23-7 margin. Allison Whitworth got the shutout in her first action for the Red Stars.

Ella Masar got the Red Stars on the board late in the 1st half with well hit and well placed shot past Kristin Luckenbill. The goal was assisted by Natalie Spilger. Masar has now scored four goals in her last four games and is the leading scorer for Chicago.

Just as the 2nd half started, a Red Star cross into the box was deflected past Luckenbill for a 2-0 margin. It was unclear as to whether Kosovare Asllani or Sky Blue defender Daphne Koster had struck the ball last. It was recorded as an own goal, but it will probably be reviewed by the league later in the week.

Sky Blue was able to muster very little offense in this one and they are especially thin at forward right now.

Sky Blue holds on to 3rd place, but only by a point over Chicago and Washington. They host Atlanta next. Chicago, who is now unbeaten in their last four, have a bye next weekend and return to action the following Wednesday at Atlanta.

1) FC Gold Pride (9-3-1, 28 pts); 2) Philadelphia (6-4-3, 21 pts); 3) Sky Blue FC (5-5-3, 18 pts); 4) Washington (4-4-5, 17 pts); 4) Chicago (4-5-5, 17 pts); 6) Boston (3-5-4, 13 pts); 7) Atlanta (1-7-4, 7 pts).