August 31, 2010

WPS Midweek Preview - September 1

FC Gold Pride (14-3-4, 43 pts) at Sky Blue FC (7-10-4, 25 pts)
Yurcak Field, Piscataway, NJ – September 1 (7 pm ET, 4 pm PT)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Sky Blue 1 @ Gold Pride 3
Gold Pride 1
@ Sky Blue 0
Sky Blue 2 @ Gold Pride 0
Gold Pride leads the all-time series at 3-2-1.

Playoff Outlook:
Gold Pride has clinched the first playoff berth.
Sky Blue would move into a tie for 4th place with a victory. Since Washington holds the tiebreaker between the two, a loss would be devastating.

What To Look For: Sky Blue has everything to play for in this match, while Gold Pride has very little to play for. Sky Blue is one of only two active teams to have defeated Gold Pride this season, but have lost two of the three meetings. In fact, Gold Pride’s last loss was to Sky Blue, with Tasha Kai and Rosana scoring the goals in the 2-0 shutout. Gold Pride is unbeaten in their last ten matches, just one shy of a record set by Los Angeles in 2009.

With Jen Branam listed as out, Meghann Burke could well get the start in goal for Sky Blue. New Jersey fans have to hope that Gold Pride wore themselves out while scoring six goals against Atlanta on Saturday. Kai scored her first goal in two months against Washington over the weekend.

Marta leads WPS in goals scored with 17. Five different players scored in the match against Atlanta on Saturday. A goal by Christine Sinclair would give Gold Pride the first pair of double-digit goal scorers in WPS history. It will be interesting to see if Albertin Montoya chooses to start Brittany Cameron and rests Nicole Barnhart for a second straight game.

This will be the last road match of the year for Gold Pride, who have already clinched home field advantage for the final. Could they be looking past this match? Can Sky Blue regain the magic that got them into the 2009 playoffs?

Boston Breakers (9-7-5, 32 pts) at Atlanta Beat (5-11-5, 25 pts)
KSU Soccer Stadium, Kennesaw, GA – September 1 (7:30 pm ET)

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

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

Previous Meetings (2010):
Atlanta 1 @ Boston 3
Atlanta 0 @ Boston 2
Atlanta 3 @ Boston 2

Playoff Outlook:
Boston can clinch a playoff berth with a victory or a Sky Blue loss. The Breakers control their own destiny for 2nd place and will capture that berth if they win their remaining three matches.
Atlanta must win out to have any chance at a playoff berth and will be eliminated if they tie or lose this one.

What To Look For: Boston has won two of the three in the series this year with the loss coming when they were without Kelly Smith. In that match, the Beat built a 3-0 lead and hung on for the 3-2 victory. That is Boston’s only loss in their last seven matches. The Breakers could break the record for most consecutive games scoring a goal. They are presently tied at 12 with Philadelphia who set the record earlier this season. Atlanta will be attempting to recover from a terrible 6-1 loss at home to Gold Pride. This is the first trip for the Breakers to Atlanta.

Atlanta will be looking to score in their fifth consecutive match, which would be their best streak, but they haven’t come close to stopping their opponents lately. They’ve given up 15 goals in their last five matches and one loses count of the number of uncontested breakaways they have given up. Eniola Aluko has eight goals this season (for the second consecutive week she was given credit for a goal, only to have it awarded to another player based on review).

Boston took advantage of a penalty to improve their chances for 2nd place against Philadelphia. Seven different players have scored in the last three matches for the Breakers, including Smith, Cox, Lilly, del Rio, Angeli, Cheney, and Tarpley (who has scored two over that time). Smith leads the Breakers with 11 goals.

Atlanta must be better organized than they were in Saturday’s debacle if they are to win here. Boston is certainly one of the hottest teams in the league at this point. The Breakers would like to seal a playoff berth on Wednesday.

Philadelphia Independence (10-8-4, 34 pts) at Chicago Red Stars (5-11-6, 21 pts)
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL – September 1 (8 pm ET, 7 pm CT)

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

Chicago: GK-J. Loyden, A. Whitworth; D-K. Markgraf, W. Engen, M. Dalmy, N. Spilger, L. Vandenbergh, C. Shaner; MF-K. Carney, K. Chapman, Formiga, M. Rapinoe, N. Washington, S. Reiser; F-Cristiane, E. Masar, C. Nogueira, V. Boquete.
Not Active: J. McDonald (knee), E. Weber (hip).

Previous Meetings (2010):
Philadelphia 1 @ Chicago 0
Chicago 0 @ Philadelphia 3
Philadelphia 2 @ Chicago 1

Playoff Outlook:
Philadelphia needs a point to clinch a playoff berth and home field advantage for at least one match in the playoffs. They no longer control their own destiny for the 2nd position.
Chicago has been eliminated from playoff contention.

What To Look For: Philadelphia has won the three previous meetings in this series and has outscored the Red Stars 6-1 in the process. Chicago has lost three straight games five different times in their history, but have never lost four in a row and hope to avoid doing that on Wednesday.

The Independence has been playing a lot of close games, with their last four being decided by one goal. Amy Rodriguez remains the league’s second leading scorer with 12 goals. Philadelphia is tied for the fewest number of shutouts over their opponents, so they usually win with offense.

Chicago is playing for pride, now that there is no chance for a playoff berth. However, it is an important time for the club to make evaluations about offseason personnel decisions. Ella Masar has had a stellar season for the Red Stars with 8 goals and Whitney Engen has proven a fine rookie defender.

These two teams lead the league in fouls committed and the next team isn’t even close, so one would expect a fairly physical match here. The Independence do not want to go into their final match at FC Gold Pride needing points to make the playoffs.