July 2, 2010

WPS Weekend Preview - July 3 and 4

FC Gold Pride (7-3-1, 22 pts) at Atlanta Beat (1-5-3, 6 pts)
KSU Stadium, Kennesaw, GA – July 3 (7 pm ET, 4 pm PT)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Atlanta 1 @ FC Gold Pride 2

What to Look for – FC Gold Pride’s lead has shrunk to just one point. Marta enters the game coming off of a two goal effort in the All-Star Game, not to mention, she has more goals this season than the entire Atlanta team. Sinclair is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, but Gold Pride has plenty of firepower. O’Hara, Abily, and Boxx should keep the Beat’s defense plenty busy. Barnhart is among the leaders in several goalkeeping categories. Buehler, Chapman, and Riley are strong defensively. Gold Pride has not been quite as invincible on the road, where they have been shutout twice.

Atlanta has been making steady progress with a win and two ties in their last three contests. Surprisingly, Ellertson has been the offensive star lately with late goals on headers in the last two games. But the Beat must start getting some offense. As talented as she is, Bachmann needs to either start putting the ball in the net or start setting her teammates up more often. If Aluko and Bachmann can start working together, their speed can beat many a defense. Atlanta’s midfield should be in good hands with Miyama, Yamaguchi, and Chalupny.

Storylines: Can Atlanta continue their progress and move into 6th place? Will Gold Pride come back to the pack or surge out to a comfortable 1st place margin? Can the Beat’s defense stop Marta?

Boston Breakers (1-5-4, 7 pts) at Philadelphia Independence (6-3-3, 21 pts)
John A. Ferrell Stadium, West Chester, PA – July 4 (4 pm ET)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Philadelphia 1 @ Boston 1.

What to Look for: I don’t think anyone thought these two teams would be in the position they are midway through the 2010 season. Boston is struggling to stay out of last place, while the Independence appear to be legitimate challengers for first. The Breakers have scored just three goals in their last seven matches and all three of those were in losing efforts. You can’t win if you don’t score and Boston must find a way to score quickly or this season will be over for them. Smith is the only player with more than one goal. The Breakers have gotten a goal apiece from two of their rookies, Cheney and Angeli. But other than that, there hasn’t been much. Boston did make a move last week to strengthen their defense, signing Dieke who was a starter for the Red Stars until about a month ago. She gives Boston some added speed on their back line.

Philadelphia has been scoring goals in bunches, with former Breaker Rodriguez leading the way with six. The Independence have speed to burn. Adding DiMartino to an already decent midfield with Seger and Lindsey seems to have made Philly even stronger. While they have been scoring a lot of goals lately, they have also surrendered quite a few, giving up 11 over their last six matches. They need to tighten up their defense and they will be a real contender for the title. LeBlanc probably gives Philadelphia an edge in goal.

Storylines: Can Boston turn around a season that has now seen their winless streak stretch out to 9 matches? Can Philadelphia keep pace with Gold Pride? Will Rodriguez find the net against her old team?

Chicago Red Stars (3-5-3, 12 pts) at Washington Freedom (4-3-3, 15 pts)
Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, MD – July 4 (5 pm ET, 4 pm CT)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Chicago 2 @ Washington 2
The all-time series is even at 1-1-3.

What to Look For: It’s a high powered Washington offense that faces a tough Chicago defense. The Red Stars lead WPS in fewest goals allowed, giving up less than one a game. Loyden is a top keeper and Markgraf and Engen are having very good seasons, but they will be hard pressed to stop Wambach, who is having a great season. Dalmy gives the Red Stars a little offense out of their back line. I’m still waiting for some scoring out of this midfield. To date, forwards have scored every goal for the Red Stars. Cristiane has three, followed by Masar and Nogueira with two.

Washington has a lot of offense and it isn’t just Wambach. Mykjåland has three goals, as does Sawa, who has been a surprising offensive threat this season. Long can also put the ball in the net and Welch adds offensive punch off the bench. Bompastor and Sawa are the two key players in the midfield. The two appear to be opposites, with Bompastor constantly mixing it up and in the middle of the action, while Sawa quietly goes about her business, but both are effective. The Freedom do have to worry about their defense and they have surrendered a couple of two goal leads in their last two matches, losing one and tying the other. Whitehill is an experienced defender, but is probably stronger offensively. Marshall has done a fine job in her rookie season.

Storylines: This is a battle between the 4th and 5th place teams. A Red Star victory puts them right in the thick of playoff conversations. A loss again forces them into a position where they must make up a lot of ground, especially since the Freedom have a game in hand.