July 10, 2010

WPS Weekend Preview - July 10 and 11

Sky Blue FC (5-4-3, 18 pts) at Chicago Red Stars (3-5-5, 14 pts)
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL – July 10 (7 pm ET, 6 pm CT)

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

Chicago: GK-A. Whitworth, M. Burke; D-W. Engen, M. Dalmy, N. Spilger, E. Weber, A. Asante, L. Vandenbergh; MF-Formiga, K. Carney, K. Chapman, J. Sitch, J. Santacaterina; F-Cristiane, E. Masar, K. Asllani, C. Nogueira, J. McDonald.
Not Active: K. Markgraf (USWNT), M. Rapinoe (USWNT), J. Loyden (USWNT), N. Washington (knee).

Previous Meeting (2010):
Chicago 0 @ Sky Blue 1
Sky Blue 1 @ Chicago 0
Sky Blue leads the all-time series with 5 wins and a tie.

What To Look For: These teams have met six times in their history and Sky Blue has absolutely dominated the results. Not only have the Red Stars never beaten New Jersey, they've never scored against them. That’s no goals in 540 minutes for those keeping track.

Both teams will have backup keepers in the net, Whitworth for Chicago because of Loyden’s national team duty and Luckenbill for Sky Blue because of the injury to Bardsley. For the Red Stars, this will be the first time in their history they have ever used a backup keeper. Jonsson started every game last season and Loyden had started every game to this point in 2010. Whitworth was Atlanta’s starter early in the season before she gave way to Maron and Solo. Luckenbill is coming off of a shutout against Washington on Wednesday night in only her 2nd start for New Jersey.

Chicago’s problem has been scoring. They have had only four goal scorers this season, all forwards. It’s a good group of forwards, but at times they have had trouble finishing. Cristiane, Masar, Asllani, and Nogueira provide the scoring, while Karen Carney and Katie Chapman provide the primary support in the midfield. They will be going against a tough Sky Blue defense that will be missing two starters in Rampone and Schnur. Rookie Brittany Taylor has been very dependable and Daphne Koster is an experienced, rugged defender. Yael Averbuch supports at holding midfielder. This should be an interesting matchup, given Chicago leads the league in shots attempted, while Sky Blue has surrendered nearly 18 shots per game, the most in WPS.

When Sky Blue is on offense, they can have a variety of different looks , depending on who is starting up front. Last match, it was Rosana that started at forward, with Kai subbing in later in the match. Italian import Patrizia Panico adds yet another dimension to the Sky Blue attack. She saw her first action for New Jersey on Wednesday. Sky Blue will be missing a key part of their offense in O’Reilly, but Laura Kalmari is their leading scorer and Kacey White is very good from the wing. Chicago leads WPS in team defense, but their captain, Kate Markgraf will be gone. Whitney Engen is having a strong rookie season and Natalie Spilger will be back from her suspension. Marian Dalmy provides offense on the right side from the back.

With so many players missing on national team duty, it could change the chemistry of this matchup, but the Red Stars will need to get over the psychological block of not having scored against Sky Blue. The Red Stars trail 3rd place Sky Blue by just four points, so this is an important game for both teams.

Washington Freedom (4-3-5, 17 pts) at FC Gold Pride (8-3-1, 25 pts)
Pioneer Stadium, Hayward, CA – July 11 (6 pm ET, 3 pm PT)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Washington 1 @ FC Gold Pride 1
Washington leads the all-time series at 2-1-1.

What To Look For: Washington may be one team that has the firepower to stay with Gold Pride, but they will be missing their big gun, Abby Wambach. The previous meeting in 2010 ended in a 1-1 draw. Washington’s only win on the road was in Atlanta, while Gold Pride’s only loss at home was two weeks ago to Sky Blue. Strangely enough, the Freedom are coming off of consecutive scoreless ties.

Washington should have the edge in goal with Erin McLeod patrolling the nets for the Freedom. Brittany Cameron is poised to get her first WPS start this weekend. She had a great college career at San Diego, but is untested in WPS action.

Fortunate for Cameron, she will not be facing Wambach. Washington’s attacking weapons are greatly reduced this match without her and Allie Long, who received her first USWNT call up. That leaves Lene Mykjåland and veteran reserve Christie Welsh as the most likely strike team. As in 2009, Sonia Bompastor is among the lead leaders in assists with four. Homare Sawa has three goals to her credit from the midfield. As for Gold Pride, they will be without defensive leader Rachel Buehler. Gold Pride has allowed more than one goal only twice this season, but they lost both matches.

Offensively, Gold Pride will be missing a potent scorer in Kelley O’Hara, but the Pride have a much deeper front line with Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Tiffeny Milbrett. They will feel the loss of Shannon Boxx in the middle however. Solveig Gulbrandsen, who will soon be returning to Norway, should see playing time in this one and give the American crowd one more chance to see her midfield skills. Washington does have the luxury of having its defense relatively intact for this match, which should help, but very few teams have been able to contain Gold Pride.

Washington is in a precarious position, in 4th place, just three points ahead of Chicago. With six of their next eight matches on the road, they need to get some points to keep that cushion. Gold Pride would like to extend their lead of four points on Philadelphia.

Atlanta Beat (1-6-4, 7 pts) at Boston Breakers (2-5-4, 10 pts)
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA – July 11 (6 pm ET)

Atlanta: GK-B. Maron, M. Lofton-Malachi; D-T. Ellertson, L. Robinson, S. Bishop, K. Larkin, L. Sesselmann; MF-A. Miyama, M. Yamaguchi, A. Kerr, J. Rasmussen, M. Zerboni, C. Blank, R. Nolin; F-E. Aluko, A. Cinalli.
Not Active: L. Chalupny (back), H. Solo (USWNT), R. Bachmann (Swiss U-20), K. McNeill (suspension), M. Ocampo (knee).

Boston: GK-A. Naeher, A. Phillips, A. Lipsher; D-I. Dieke, A. Scott, K. Moore, C. Igwe; MF-K. Smith, L. Osborne, Fabiana, J. Angeli, L. Bogus; F-L. Tarpley, L. Del Rio, T. Weimer, T. Hemmings.
Not Active: L. Cheney (USWNT), K. Lilly (USWNT), S. Cox (USWNT), A. LePeilbet (USWNT), S. Walsh (knee).

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

What To Look For: This will be the first ever meeting between these two teams and both are heading into the game with severely depleted rosters. Boston is coming off of a big victory over Philadelphia and hopes to build from that win. Atlanta tied Chicago on the road and have earned points in four of their last five matches.

Atlanta will miss Hope Solo, who is away on national team duty, but Brett Maron has proven herself as a capable goalkeeper, earning a shutout in her last start against Chicago in June. Alyssa Naeher has taken over in goal for Boston.

Offensively, Atlanta will be without Ramona Bachmann and Monica Ocampo. Last game, Mami Yamaguchi played more forward to support Eniola Aluko. Aluko has four goals to her credit, but has yet to put one in for the Beat. Johanna Rasmussen played one of her best games against Chicago on Wednesday and Atlanta needs for her to be a major factor in this game as well. Aya Miyama is good at setting up teammates, both from set pieces and in the run of play. Atlanta will be facing a Breakers’ defense that will be missing two key members due to national team duty, Amy LePeilbet and Stephanie Cox. This could make Boston a bit vulnerable defensively, but Atlanta hasn’t exactly been a scoring machine.

Boston will be missing Lauren Cheney at forward, meaning that Lindsey Tarpley and Laura Del Rio should see action together. Kelly Smith is the big offensive weapon for the Breakers. She has three goals heading into Sunday’s match. Tina Ellertson might be back to defend for Atlanta after missing a game after she was hit in the face in the match against Gold Pride, but Kia McNeill will be serving the second of a three game suspension.

Both of these teams have had trouble scoring. Atlanta is still showing signs of growing pains. Their defense was cut to shreds by Gold Pride a week ago and their passing was aimless at times against Chicago on Wednesday. Atlanta needs three points here are they will be playing the role of spoiler for the rest of the season. The Breakers need to win to get back into playoff contention.