August 3, 2010

WPS Midweek Preview - August 4

Atlanta Beat (4-7-5, 17 pts) at Boston Breakers (6-6-4, 22 pts)
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA – August 4 (7 pm ET)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Atlanta 1 @ Boston 3.

What To Look For: Save for FC Gold Pride, these are the two hottest teams in WPS. Boston has won five of their last six and Atlanta is unbeaten in their last four matches. In the only previous meeting between the two teams, Atlanta saw a 1-0 lead slip away when Boston scored three 2nd half goals in quick succession to earn the 3-1 win. This is the first of three meetings between the two over the next month.

Hope Solo was not in goal for that match, but she will be for this one. She has shut out three of her last four opponents, including Gold Pride on Sunday. Solo has two shutouts in four career matches against Boston. In front of her, Gareth O’Sullivan may utilize the three back defense that seemed to work pretty well against Gold Pride. Tina Ellertson spearheads that back line.

Going against that defense will be a Breaker offense that has been scoring plenty of goals lately. They are led by Kelly Smith (7 goals), Lauren Cheney (3 goals), and Jordan Angeli (5 goals). Veterans Kristine Lilly and Lindsay Tarpley help set those three up with opportunities.

Defensively, Boston is playing well, although shutouts have been hard to come by. Alyssa Naeher has a 5-2 record since becoming the starting keeper, but her GAA is 1.23. With a defensive group that includes Stephanie Cox, Alex Scott, and Amy LePeilbet, Boston would like to see less goals surrendered.

Atlanta has scored more than one goal just twice this season and several promising chances amounted to nothing on Sunday. In the low scoring contests they tend to play, they must finish when the opportunities arise. With Eniola Aluko, Monica Ocampo, Johanna Rasmussen, and Ramona Bachmann, they have the talent to score more than they have. They get excellent support from Aya Miyama and Lori Chalupny.

At the end of June, both of these teams looked to be out of the playoffs. Both have made nice runs and Boston now occupies 3rd place, while Atlanta has a playoff spot within reach. With each team having three of their remaining eight games against one another, both will have a lot to say about the other's playoff chances, as well as their own.

Philadelphia Independence (8-5-3, 27 pts) at Washington Freedom (4-8-5, 17 pts)
Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, MD – August 4 (7:30 pm ET)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Washington 1 @ Philadelphia 3
Philadelphia 1 @ Washington 2
Washington 2 @ Philadelphia 3

What To Look For: This will be the fourth meeting between these two this season, with the home team taking the previous three. And not surprisingly, there have not been any shutouts in the series.

Stopping their opponent from scoring has become a major problem for Washington and one that remains unsolved. The Freedom have given up an average of three goals a game in their last five matches and you’re not going to win a lot of games with defense like that. Making matters worse, Erin McLeod has officially been put on the season-ending injury list.

Coach Jim Gabarra has used a different back line combination in each of the last three matches and is still searching for one that works. Moving talented Sonia Bompastor back hasn’t seemed to help. The only constant on the back line has been iron woman Becky Sauerbrunn. Even veteran Cat Whitehill started a game on the bench.

Making matters worse for the Freedom, they will be facing one of the most high powered offenses in WPS. That offense is led by Amy Rodriguez who has scored 11 goals this season, three of those against Washington. Lianne Sanderson likes to face the Freedom as well. The English forward has scored a goal in each of her three games against Washington, which also happen to be her only three goals of the season. They get superior midfield support from Lori Lindsey, Caroline Seger, and Joanna Lohman.

Philadelphia coach Paul Riley has gone back and forth with his keepers, but seems to have settled on Val Henderson for the moment. She has a GAA of 1.00. Allison Falk and Nikki Krzysik defend in front of Henderson. Holmfridur Magnusdottir will miss this game because of her red card suspension, but the Independence might have Heather Mitts back from injury.

Last season, the Freedom scored three or more goals in six different games. This year, it’s only happened twice, both early on. Abby Wambach leads Washington with 7 goals and 8 assists. Lene Mykjåland has four goals and Nikki Marshall has three since moving to forward.

The Freedom will be glad to be back home, having played just one of their last six matches there. They have a very respectable 3-2-3 record at home, but the last time they won a game was against this Philadelphia team over two months ago. Meanwhile, the Independence have put themselves in great position. A couple more victories should clinch a playoff spot.