July 6, 2011

WPS Wednesday: Sky Blue at Philadelphia

Sky Blue FC at Philadelphia Indepenence (7 pm eastern, Wednesday)
Leslie Quick Stadium, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Independence (5-2-3)
Coach: Paul Riley
Goalkeepers: V. Henderson, R. Jones.
Defenders: K. McNeill, N. Krzysik, L. Robinson, H. Magnusdottir, E. Johnson, L. Barnes.
Midfielders: J. Buczkowski, C. DiMartino, S. Farrelly, J. Lohman.
Forwards: T. Kai, V. Boquete, L. Sanderson, D. Adams, L. del Rio, G. DiMartino.
Not active: N. Barnhart, A. Rodriguez, L. Lindsey, A. Falk, L. Fowlkes.

Sky Blue FC (3-3-3)
Coach: Jim Gabarra
Goalkeepers: J. Branam, E. Guthrie, K. Arnold.
Defenders: B. Taylor, K. Fletcher, C. Dew, M. Wenino, J. Clark, S. Gray.
Midfielders: A. Long, C. Blank, A. Mautz, A. Kerr (unlikely).
Forwards: Adriana, C. Nogueira, L. Kalmari.
Not active: E. Aluko, A. Asante, K. Bardsley, T. Heath, H. O'Reilly, T. Sjogran, D. Johnson (injured), L. Johnson (injured).

The second half of the WPS season starts tonight and tonight's match is between two teams that have positioned themselves for a playoff run.

In addition, Philadelphia can take temporary possession of first place with a victory tonight, but it must be noted that they have already played one more game than Western New York, who currently holds that spot.

As expected, both teams will be hurt by missing national team players. Sky Blue is missing six players, while Philadelphia is missing just three. Injuries have also become a problem for Sky Blue, with Danielle Johnson now being injured and Angie Kerr unlikely for tonight's match. Former Penn State and Athletica defender Sheree Gray was signed by Sky Blue to help fill in.

Sky Blue will be looking toward their leading goal scorer, Casey Nogueira, to help extend their five game unbeaten streak. Forward Laura Kalmari and midfielder Allie Long have two goals apiece on the season.

With Kerr out, Sky Blue is extremely thin in the midfield. On a warm, muggy night, this could certainly have an effect. Defensively, Sky Blue has posted shutouts in their last two matches. Jen Branam will be the goalkeeper for New Jersey. Her defense featuring Kendall Fletcher, Brittany Taylor, and Carrie Dew has performed well as of late.

Philadelphia will not be hurt as much by absent players and they have more attacking options in any case. Tasha Kai is second in WPS with four goals on the season. Danesha Adams has scored three times in limited action. Veronica Boquete has eased the loss of Amy Rodriguez by scoring two goals of her own.

The Independence recently traded Megan Rapinoe and will be missing Lori Lindsey in the midfield. They are still in good hands with Tina DiMartino, Sinead Farrelly, and Joanna Lohman. Jen Buczkowski is the defensive specialist in the midfield.

Philadelphia's defense, led by Kia McNeill and Nikki Krzysik in the middle, have been tough as well. Philadelphia has only given up one goal in their last four matches. Val Henderson, who has three shutouts to her credit, will be in goal for the Independence.

Sky Blue would like to get points in this match. They have a nice five game unbeaten streak going, but they must still worry about Boston who are right behind them in the standings. Philadelphia is probably the team that has the best shot at catching Western New York. A win here gets them right in the hunt for the regular season crown.