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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WPS Weekly by Rob Penner

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WPS Weekly – Tuesday, May 12

by Rob Penner, Communications Director of Women's Professional Soccer

Weekend Report

After tallying their first goals of the season two weekends ago, Saint Louis Athletica took another step forward this week by securing the franchise’s first-ever win against FC Gold Pride. Lori Chalupny netted the only goal of the game on a bending left-footed corner into the far post in the 16th minute. FC Gold Pride keeper, Nicole Barnhart, suffered a blow to the face just prior to Chalupny’s goal, and played the rest of the match with a fractured nose. The Saint Louis side was able to hold off FC Gold Pride for the rest of the game including some late threats from Christine Sinclair and Eriko Arakawa.

The Los Angeles Sol and Boston Breakers held their top two spots in the WPS standings, first and second, respectively, after playing to a 0-0 tie Sunday. Each team’s defensive lines played significant roles in shutting down the league’s biggest offensive stars, Marta and Kelly Smith. Los Angeles Sol forward, Han Duan, nearly notched a goal in the 38th minute after slipping in behind the Boston defense on a through ball, but her shot hit the far post. Minutes later, Boston Breakers forward, Christine Latham banged a header off the top of the crossbar.

Rachel Buehler, Natasha Kai

In a weekend of firsts, Sky Blue FC joined Saint Louis Athletica in earning their first win ever in WPS with a 2-0 victory against the Chicago Red Stars. Sarah Walsh received a through ball from Collette McCallum and shot the ball into the left side of the net early in the game. The goal marked the first time the Chicago Red Stars trailed in a match this season. Natasha Kai got on the scoreboard in the 78th minute by knocking in a low right cross from Sarah Walsh that looked headed for the net. The Red Stars lost momentum after their bye week and were unable to get a shot on goal until the second half, despite having the opportunity to take over the top of the WPS table with a victory.

Line Up Notables

Saint Louis Athletica team captain, Lori Chalupny, lead her team to their first franchise win by notching a goal early against FC Gold Pride Saturday. Chalupny’s goal may have been a bit lucky as it was a cross that curved into the upper far post, but enough to give her team the margin of victory.

Sky Blue FC’s Sarah Walsh produced great play up top for her team as she slipped in behind the Chicago Red Stars defense to finish a through ball in the first half. Walsh also pulled Caroline Jönsson off her line and placed a lower right ball across the face of the open goal, assisting the shot from Natasha Kai. The two goals lead Sky Blue FC to their first win.

Karina LeBlanc of Los Angeles, tallied her league-leading fifth shutout in WPS this season.

Quotables From Notables

A few words from players and coaches…

“I’m definitely disappointed, but more so for the girls,” said FC Gold Pride head coach Albertin Montoya. “I think we deserved to win. We played very well especially in the second half. You have got to give it to the Athletica, they defended with everything they had. We were dangerous throughout the [second] half, we just couldn’t put one in the back of the net.”

“Chicago made it very difficult, especially at the end of the game,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Ian Sawyers. “I’m getting old, but that last ten minutes of the game made me even older. I’m very proud of the players today; they really stepped it up and expressed themselves.”

“We came into this game knowing New Jersey didn’t have a win and it’s always difficult when you’re playing against a team that has absolutely nothing to lose,” said Chicago Red Stars head coach Emma Hayes. “I thought they were the better team from the very first whistle – they wanted it, they were good defensively, they were good in their attack and we struggled all evening to get our game going.”

“I thought we played a good first half but we lacked quality finishing,” said Los Angeles Sol head coach Abner Rogers. “Boston is a very good team and you’re not going to get many opportunities to score against them. The chances were there today, but we need to finish better.”

Jenni Branam

Regional TV Deal Adds to WPS Reach

Sky Blue FC announced Friday that two of its upcoming Women's Professional Soccer games will be televised on Universal Sports. The preeminent multiplatform destination for Olympic and lifestyle sports programming, Universal Sports will televise the upcoming games between the big market teams of Sky Blue FC and the Los Angeles Sol.

Universal Sports (in partnership with NBC) is the top destination for Olympic Sports all year round. The network has coverage in over 30 million digital cable households and over 5.2 million users online through a partner network of over 30 top endemic sport sites.

The first match, in Los Angeles, will be televised on Friday, May 15th at 10:30 p.m. ET. The rematch, featuring the return of Brazilian star Marta to New Jersey, will be aired on Saturday, June 13th at 7 p.m. ET.

Attendance Watch

In Week 7, the league went over 100,000 fans on the season for a total of 102,296 in 19 games with an average of 5,380 per game. Los Angeles continues to be the league leader in attendance with a three-game average of 9,053, while Boston is second in average attendance at 6,418 for two home games in 2009.

WPS Player of the Week: Week 7

Saint Louis midfielder Lori Chalupny has been selected WPS's Player of the Week for Week 7 after leading Athletica to a 1-0 triumph over visiting FC Gold Pride. The U.S. national team star scored in the 16th minute, bending a corner kick into the net, to lift Saint Louis to its first victory. She also created opportunities and made exciting runs to open space for the Athletica attack. The WPS Player of the Week award is voted upon by a panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters.

Week 1: Aya Miyama (Los Angeles Sol)
Week 2: Marta (Los Angeles Sol)
Week 3: Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers)
Week 4: Aly Wagner (Los Angeles Sol)
Week 5: Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
Week 6: Sonia Bompastor (Washington Freedom)
Week 7: Lori Chalupny (Saint Louis Athletica)

Note: Weeks 1-2 selected by The Soccer Magazine; weeks 3-7 selected by North American Soccer Reporters panel.

WPS Goal Trends

Teams that score the first goal have won 81.25 % of WPS games, tied 18.75 % of games and lost 0 % of games.

Teams that lead at halftime have won 72.7 % of WPS games, tied 27.3 % of games and lost 0 % of games

Teams that are down at halftime have won 0 % of games, tied 27.3 % of games and lost 72.7 % of games

Teams that have come back from 2-goal deficits to win or draw: Washington Freedom came back from a 3-1 deficit against Saint Louis Athletica to a tie with goals in the 79th and 90th minutes. No teams have come back from 1-goal deficits to win in WPS play. Sky Blue FC and Washington Freedom are the only teams that have come back from a deficit to finish with a draw.

There have been three goalless draws out of 19 WPS games this season.

Goals by the Numbers

Top Scorers – Boston Breakers’ Kelly Smith (4)

Goals by Team – Washington Freedom (9), Boston Breakers (8), FC Gold Pride (7), Chicago Red Stars (7), Los Angeles Sol (6), Saint Louis Athletica (4), Sky Blue FC (3)

Total Goals – 44 goals scored since WPS Inaugural Match on March 29, 2009 with an average of 2.3 goals per game.

Quickest Goal in League Play: Kelly Smith in 2nd minute of play, Boston Breakers vs. Los Angeles Sol (5/2/09)

Quickest back-to-back goals by one team: 2 goals in 3 minutes – 42 minute, 45 minute – from Marta in Los Angeles Sol vs. Sky Blue FC match (4/5/09)

Most Goals in One Game by one team: 4, Washington Freedom 4-3 FC Gold Pride (4/26/09) and Chicago Red Stars 4-0 Boston Breakers (4/25/09)

Most Goals in One Game by both teams: 7, Washington Freedom 4-3 FC Gold Pride (4/26/09)

Most Goals in a Game by a player: 2, Marta (Los Angeles Sol – 4/5/09), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom – 4/26/09), Daniela (Saint Louis Athletica – 5/3/09), Sonia Bompastor (Washington Freedom – 5/3/09)

The Weekly Forecast

Friday, May 15

Los Angeles Sol vs. Sky Blue FC (10:30 pm ET – Universal Sports)
Home Depot Center, Carson, CA

The Los Angeles Sol and Sky Blue FC face off in front of a television audience on Universal Sports – the first of two Sol-Sky Blue FC games covered by Universal and the first Friday night game in WPS history. The two play each other for the second time this season with their previous match-up ending in a 2-0 Sol victory at TD Bank Park in early April. Los Angeles comes into the game atop the WPS standings for the seventh consecutive week since opening the season with a win in the WPS Inaugural Match, but the team has not won since a 1-0 victory over FC Gold Pride in Week 4, going 0-1-2 during that span and notching just one goal in 270 minutes. Chinese international Han Duan created some good opportunities against Boston last weekend but the Sol offense will have to break out of their slump to overcome a stingy Sky Blue FC defense led by Christie Rampone. Having allowed only 4 goals this season has kept Sky Blue FC competitive in every game so far and helped lead them to their first win last weekend in a 2-0 upset of the Chicago Red Stars. With their offensive stars of Sarah Walsh, Collette McCallum, Natasha Kai and Heather O’Reilly finally clicking, one key goal could make the difference for either team in this cross-country match-up. For Sky Blue FC, it’s their fourth of five consecutive away games before returning home for a game on May 31. Only two WPS teams, Boston and Los Angeles, have been able to secure back-to-back victories so far this season, as Sky Blue FC looks to become the third team in WPS to follow-up a win with another victory.

Saturday, May 16

Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Gold Pride (8:30 pm ET)
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

The Chicago Red Stars play host to FC Gold Pride for the first ever match-up between the two and the Red Stars fourth of five consecutive home games early in the 2009 season. The Red Stars became the last team to fall from the unbeaten ranks on Sunday with their upset loss to Sky Blue FC at Toyota Park. With a win last week, the Red Stars could have moved into first place in the WPS standings but instead remain in third place, three points behind league-leading Los Angeles, but only three points ahead of fifth-place teams Saint Louis, Washington and Sky Blue FC. The Red Stars continue to be led by the goalkeeping of Caroline Jonsson and the offensive touch of Lindsay Tarpley but need more consistent contributions from 2008 U.S. Soccer player of the year Carli Lloyd. FC Gold Pride has shown moments of brilliance this season with some creative attacking soccer but will need their offensive regulars to start scoring more regularly. In the past two weeks, FC Gold has seen only a converted defender, Leigh Ann Robinson, playing at forward, hit the back of the net.

Sunday, May 17

Boston Breakers vs. Washington Freedom (6 pm ET – FSC)
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA

In the WPS Sunday on FSC game of the week, the Boston Breakers host the Washington Freedom, in a match-up of two former WUSA clubs. Boston is unbeaten and untied at home with six points out of a maximum six. The two played last month at the Maryland SoccerPlex with Boston notching a 3-1 victory that was far closer than the final scoreline. The Freedom are coming off a bye week, while the Breakers are coming off a two-game series with league-leading Los Angeles, in which Boston grabbed four of a maximum six points and contained the Sol offense. Pending any appeal, the Freedom will be without the services of star forward Abby Wambach, suspended by the WPS Commissioner for one game following a reckless tackle in their 3-3 tie with Saint Louis Athletica. But the Freedom don’t lack firepower, with creative Frenchwoman Sonia Bompastor and speedy forward Lisa DeVanna upfront for Jim Gabarra’s side. The true test will be if the leaky Freedom defense can hold up against Boston stars Kelly Smith and Kristine Lilly, who have a combined six of Boston’s eight goals on the year. A loss or tie by Los Angeles on Friday would give Boston the chance to jump to the top of the WPS table with a victory on Sunday evening.

Off Week

Saint Louis Athletica are off this weekend.

On TV

Universal Sports will air the match between the Los Angeles Sol and Sky Blue FC at 10:30pm ET (7:30pm PT) in regional markets.

The WPS Sunday on FSC match between the Boston Breakers and Washington Freedom will air on the Fox Soccer Channel on Sunday, May 17 at 6 pm ET/3pm PT.

WPS Standings

TEAM W L T GF GA POINTS

Los Angeles Sol 3-1-2 6 2 11
Boston Breakers 3-2-1 8 8 10
Chicago Red Stars 2-1-2 7 3 8
FC Gold Pride 2-3-1 7 8 7
Washington Freedom 1-2-2 9 12 5
Saint Louis Athletica 1-2-2 4 6 5
Sky Blue FC 1-2-2 3 4 5

Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals

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