June 25, 2011

WPS Preview: magicJack at Philadelphia

magicJack at Philadelphia Independence (5pm eastern, Saturday)
Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Independence
Coach: Paul Riley
V. Henderson, R. Jones.
Defenders: K. McNeill, N. Krzysik, L. Robinson, E. Johnson, F. Magnusdottir, L. Barnes.
Midfielders: J. Buczkowski, C. DiMartino, S. Farrelly, J. Lohman.
Forwards: T. Kai, L. Sanderson, V. Boquete, L. del Rio, D. Adams, G. DiMartino.
Not active: N. Barnhart, A. Rodriguez, L. Lindsey, A. Falk, L. Fowlkes.

Goalkeepers: S. Myers.
Defenders: T. Ellertson, M. Dalmy, N. Marshall, L. Vandenbergh, A. Gunning.
Midfielders: S. Huffman, N. Washington, O. Davis, A. DaCosta.
Forwards: C. Press, E. Masar, J. Rasmussen.
Not active: H. Solo, J. Loyden, B. Maron (red card), C. Rampone, B. Sauerbrunn, S. Boxx, L. De Vanna, A. Wambach, S. Schmidt, M. Rapinoe, L. Tarpley (injury).

There have rarely been any quiet weeks for magicJack, certainly not since the season started, but this week was stranger than normal. With a good hunk of their roster missing due to national team duty, magicJack was thoroughly defeated 6-0 last Saturday. That just happens to be the worst defeat ever in WPS history. To make matters worse, magicJack goalkeeper Brett Maron was redcarded and will miss this week's match.

Within a few days of that loss, Rebecca Moros and Meghan Schnur were waived. Both players had started a few matches and it came as quite a surprise, especially since magicJack's roster is so short now. Moros had been with the team for three years since being drafted back in January, 2009.

magicJack then traded for Megan Rapinoe, which wasn't a bad move, except that Rapinoe won't be able to play for another 3-4 weeks at the earliest, since she is also on national team duty. So unless magicJack has made a transaction in the past few hours, they will enter Saturday's contest, a rematch of last week's in Philadelphia, sporting a roster of only 13 active players. And they will not have a backup keeper.

Philadelphia enters this match with a one point edge over magicJack in the standings, but the team from Boca Raton has a game in hand. That makes this battle for second place all the more critical.

Ten different players have scored for the Independence this season. Their depth at forward is to be envied, with Tasha Kai and Lianne Sanderson starting, backed by Danesha Adams and Laura del Rio. Current Player of the Week Veronica Boquete has stepped in for Amy Rodriguez and has proven equally dangerous.

In spite of missing Lori Lindsey, the Independence have good depth in the midfield as well. Tina DiMartino is having a strong season and veteran Joanna Lohman is a very valuable asset that can fill in at multiple positions.

Val Henderson is having quite a season as Philly's number two keeper. She has posted three shutouts in four matches, giving her a microscopic goals against average of 0.25. Kia McNeill has helped to solidify the Independence back line.

In spite of the absence of Abby Wambach, magicJack still has potential in the attack with Ella Masar, Christen Press, and Johanna Rasmussen, even if they weren't able to make a dent in the Independence defense last weekend.

Tina Ellertson leads the magicJack defense. Shannon Myers will be the only active goalkeeper for magicJack this weekend. Nikki Washington became a goalkeeper last weekend after Maron was redcarded. It's always nice to have something to add to the resume I guess.

magicJack did add former Sky Blue player Ashleigh Gunning to their roster. She gives magicJack versatility in her ability to play multiple positions, something a team this thin can use.

Lost in the apparent chaos is the fact that this is a very important match for magicJack. Win and they are back in second place and in good position to challenge for first place when they get their national teamers back in a few weeks. They have really struggled on the road this season and one has to hope that it isn't a particularly warm day in Philadelphia or the 13-player roster may come back to haunt them.