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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

WPS Weekly by Rob Penner

WPS Header

WPS Weekly – Tuesday, June 9

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

Marta

League Standings

Team G W L T GF GA Points
Los Angeles Sol 11 7-1-3 15 4 24
Washington Freedom 9 3-3-3 16 18 12
Boston Breakers 8 3-3-2 10 11 11
Saint Louis Athletica 8 3-3-2 7 8 11
FC Gold Pride 10 3-5-2 10 14 11
Chicago Red Stars 9 2-3-4 8 8 10
Sky Blue FC 9 2-5-2 6 9 8

Wednesday, June 3
Los Angeles Sol 1, Chicago Red Stars 1

Sunday, June 7
Saint Louis Athletica 1, Sky Blue FC 0
Los Angeles Sol 3, Washington Freedom 1
FC Gold Pride 1, Chicago Red Stars 1

Weekend Report

The Los Angeles Sol began the second half of the season just as they began the first half with a victory over the Washington Freedom at The Home Depot Center in a match-up of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the WPS Standings. With 24 points, Los Angeles now stands 12 points ahead of Washington, doubling the point total of their next-closest competitors having played two extra games.

FC Gold Pride had a chance to take over sole possession of 2nd place with a victory at home Sunday against Chicago, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw which moved the Pride into a tie for third with the Boston Breakers, who were idle, and Saint Louis Athletica, 1-0 winners over Sky Blue FC. Both Boston and Saint Louis have played two fewer games than FC Gold and the two face-off next week in a pivotal match at Boston.

Saint Louis Athletica 1, Sky Blue FC 0

Saint Louis Athletica opened play in their new home facility, the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, with a pivotal 1-0 win over Sky Blue FC (2-4-2) to take their third decision in four games. Athletica (3-3-2) not only debuted their new home ground, but head coach Jorge Barcellos also debuted some new names into his starting lineup.

Amanda Cinalli, starting her first game and playing her first minutes this year for Saint Louis, opened the scoring in the 15th minute. An Angie Woznuk ball from midfield found Eniola Aluko inside the penalty area, Aluko was able to loft a ball over the Sky Blue defense, which Cinalli chested down and struck cleanly into the back of the net. The goal was Cinalli’s first in her professional career.

“It was a great build up coming up the field. We worked it to Aluko and she had a great cross and I was in the right place at the right time,” said Cinalli.

Cinalli was injured the day before the season began. An April 3 practice collision with teammate Melissa Tancredi had kept Cinalli on the sidelines for the past two months.

The goal was all the Athletica would need despite some great opportunities for a pressing Sky Blue FC side in both the first and second halves. The most notable was a 74th minute ball played into Collette McCallum who found herself wide open in front of the net with space to shoot. McCallum miss-hit her shot, and a solid scoring opportunity went awry.

The win moves Saint Louis to 3-3-2 for the season. Athletica now are on 11 points for the year and have won three of their last four games, posting three shutouts during that streak. Next up for Athletica is a pivotal match against Boston next Sunday, June 14 at Harvard Stadium on the national television game.

Los Angeles Sol 3, Washington Freedom 1

Abby Wambach

The Los Angeles Sol defeated the Washington Freedom 3-1 at The Home Depot Center Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Sol improved its WPS-best record to 7-1-3 (24 points), while the second-place Freedom dropped to 3-3-3 (12 points).

The Sol opened the scoring ledger in the 14th minute. U.S National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx’s long pass from the left side of the defense found Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama in stride in the center of the field.

Miyama touched it quickly to get in behind the Washington defense then played a perfect ball to French international midfielder Camille Abily, who put her shot past on-rushing Washington goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The goal was Abily’s fourth in as many matches and her fifth overall this season, tying her with the Boston Breakers’ Kelly Smith for the WPS lead.

The Freedom nearly drew even in the 18th minute, but a blast from outside the penalty area from forward Abby Wambach was pushed aside by Sol ‘keeper Karina LeBlanc and knocked over the endline by the Sol defense for a Freedom corner kick, effectively ending the threat.

The Sol was first to threaten in the second half, with Boxx feeding Miyama at the edge of the box, but the long shot sailed over the Washington goal. The ensuing possession for the Freedom resulted in a free kick for the Freedom some 40 yards away from goal. After defender Cat Whitehill’s kick bounced around the box, Abily’s French National Team teammate Sonia Bompastor jumped on it for the Freedom and tied the score 1-1in the 57th minute.

The Sol was quick to regain the lead, however. In the 60th minute, midfielder McCall Zerboni served a cross from the right byline for a diving Brittany Bock. Just as Bock got her head to the ball, Whitehill stepped in, only to see the ball deflect off her arm – and referee Ted Unkel wasted no time in pointing to the penalty spot. Abily calmly stepped up and drilled the ensuing effort into the left of the goal past McLeod to giver team a lead they would not surrender.

In the 66th minute, the hosts extended the lead to 3-1. Bock and Marta worked a give-and-go on the left side of the area, with the rookie and recent Notre Dame graduate slotting her effort past McLeod for the final margin of victory.

FC Gold Pride 1, Chicago Red Stars 1

Tiffeny Milbrett, Frida Osberg
Cristiane’s second goal of the season helped the Chicago Red Stars overcome a deficit on the road to earn a 1-1 tie with FC Gold Pride Sunday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

The Brazilian native scored in the second consecutive game for Chicago (2-3-4), which earned a pair of points on its two-game West Coast road trip. The draw marks the first point earned by the Red Stars this season after falling behind in a match, while FC Gold Pride ended its’ two-game skid to pick up a point for the first time since May 16.

FC Gold Pride (3-5-2) opened the scoring in the 14th minute. After a ball was played into the box, Eriko Arakawa crossed directly in front of the goal to Christine Sinclair, who slipped behind the Red Stars defense and scored from the left side for a nifty score. The tally was the fourth on the season for Sinclair and her second against Chicago.

Then, early in the second half, trailing 1-0 in the 47th minute, Chicago’s Megan Rapinoe played the ball in from the left side with a nice cross to Cristiane, who headed it on target from directly in front of the goal. The ball appeared to deflect off the leg of FC Gold Pride defender Rachel Buehler before going in the net. Cristiane was credited with her second goal, tying Lindsay Tarpley as Chicago’s leading scorer on the season.

Red Stars goalkeeper Caroline Jönsson recorded a pair of saves in the second half, equaling the total of stops by FC Gold Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart.

Despite the tie, Chicago drops to sixth place in the WPS standings with 10 points – but the Red Stars are just a point back of a three-way tie for third place. Chicago next faces Washington, while FC Gold Pride have their first bye week of the season.

Line Up Notables

Cristiane, Leigh Ann Robinson
Chicago Red Stars:
Brazilian forward, Cristiane, scored for the second time this season to the lift the Red Stars to a 1-1 tie with FC Gold Pride. Ella Masar collided with Gold Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart just after subbing into the game and was taken out of the game with an injury.

FC Gold Pride: After losing Kandace Wilson to a hip injury and with center back Carrie Dew out on a one-game red card suspension, Marissa Abegg stepped in to play a full ninety as outside left back. Christine Sinclair moved up the scoreboard into a tie for second place in goals scored this season with a total of four.

Los Angeles Sol: After scoring two goals Sunday, Camille Abily snatched the league-lead in goals scored from Kelly Smith bringing the league high total up to six goals. Abily also netted her second PK attempted this season. The French forward is on a four-game streak with goals dating back to 5/24 and going back to 5/15 including assists and goals. Defender Keri Sanchez made her first appearance with the Sol and played the entire match. Brittany Bock scored her second goal this season.

Saint Louis Athletica: Amanda Cinalli finally got into a match with Saint Louis after being sidelined for two months due to injury. Cinalli scored the game-winner of the 1-0 match against Sky Blue FC and was assisted by Eniola Aluko. Aluko left the match with a tweaked hamstring. Stephanie Logterman also started and played for the Athletica for the first time this season.

Sky Blue FC: Karen Bardsley bumped Jenni Branam out of goal and started for the first time in several weeks for the New Jersey side. Sunday was Bardsley’s third start this season.

Washington Freedom: Defender Joanna Lohman started for the first time with the Freedom and played the entire match. Parissa Eyorokon got into her second-match this season, posting a total of 21 minutes played this season. Sonia Bompastor scored her third goal this season pushing her consecutive games with a goal or assist up to three.

Quotables From Notables

A few words from players and coaches…

“It was a fairly even game, but we made three pretty bad defensive lapses,” said Washington Freedom head coach Jim Gabarra. “They have been taking advantage of those all year and they did again today.”

“It was a great performance out there today; we are very happy with the way we played,” said Los Angeles Sol head coach Abner Rogers. “We did what we had to do today to control the rhythm and win the game.”

“It was a great build up coming up the field,” said Saint Louis Athletica’s Amanda Cinalli who scored the only goal in Sunday’s match. “We worked it to Aluko and she had a great cross and I was in the right place at the right time. It was a great feeling and it has been so much fun to be a part of this team so it was great to be out there contributing.”

WPS Player of the Week: Week 11

Los Angeles midfielder Camille Abily has been selected WPS's Player of the Week for Week 11 after scoring three goals on the week as the first-place Sol (7-1-3) notched a victory and a tie. The Frenchwoman scored a 90th-minute goal to lift Los Angeles to a 1-1 draw Wednesday with the visiting Chicago Red Stars, then scored twice – including the go-ahead penalty kick – in Sunday's 3-1 triumph over the visiting Washington Freedom. Abily has a league-best six goals, including five in the past four games.

Abily is the fifth Sol player to receive Player of the Week honors, joining Aya Miyama (Week 1), Marta (Week 2), Aly Wagner (Week 4) and Shannon Boxx (Week 10). She is the second French player selected, joining Washington's Sonia Bompastor (Week 6).

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)
Week 8: Christine Sinclair (FC Gold Pride)
Week 9: Jillian Loyden (Saint Louis Athletica)
Week 10: Shannon Boxx (Los Angeles Sol)
Week 11: Camille Abily (Los Angeles Sol)

Note: Weeks 1-2 selected by The Soccer Magazine; weeks 3-9 selected by North American Soccer Reporters panel.

May WPS Player of the Month

Washington Freedom midfielder Sonia Bompastor won the WPS Player of the Month Award for May. Bompastor led her team to a 2-0-2 record during the month, as the Freedom were in the midst of a five-game unbeaten streak dating back to April 18 that took the team to second in the WPS Standings behind the Los Angeles Sol. In May, Bompastor notched two goals and three assists, including a stoppage time header in the back of the net against the Saint Louis Athletica that earned Washington a tie after being two goals down late in the game. She also notched two assists in Washington’s 3-1 victory over FC Gold Pride.

Philadelphia Independence Announce General Manager

The Philadelphia Independence announced the addition of Terry Foley as the team’s new General Manager last week. Foley is a life-long soccer player, successful coach, and respected club owner and executive. Foley will be taking over the GM duties from Head Coach Matt Driver, allowing Drive to now focus exclusively on building and coaching the Independence team through player selection, drafts, and the team’s vast and growing community youth development programs.

"I am very proud to have Terry Foley onboard as GM and as a business partner in this organization,” stated David Halstead, Independence President/CEO. “I have known and worked with Terry for years. He has all the experience and capabilities we need to build and lead a strong team and company. He quickly earns the respect of those around him due to his extensive knowledge of the sport – as a coach and manager, his common sense approach to problem solving, ability to gain consensus and implement collaborative direction, and his honesty and authenticity in the way he handles staff. Our senior leadership is greatly bolstered with this addition.”

Scheduling Updates

Washington Freedom at St. Louis Athletica originally scheduled for 7pm on Saturday, June 20th has now been officially changed by the teams and the league to 1 pm Central/2pm ET the same day at the new Saint Louis Athletica home venue, the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, MO.

Boston Breakers at Sky Blue FC originally scheduled for 7 pm on Saturday, July 4th has now been officially changed by the teams and the league to 4 pm ET at Yurcak Field, New Brunswick, NJ.

Boston Breakers at Washington Freedom originally scheduled for 7pm ET on Wednesday, July 29 is now scheduled for one hour later at 8pm ET on the same evening at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland. The match will be broadcast regionally on Comcast and will feature a 30-minute pre-game show.

Close Games in WPS

Close games have been the norm in WPS. In 32 games so far this season, 21 have been decided by one goal or less. Ten games have been decided by two goals and only one game (Chicago 4, Boston 0) has been decided by three goals or more.

Games Tie By 1 By 2 By 3 By 4
32 9 12 10 0 1

Note: 38% won by 1, 31% won by 2, 0% won by 3, 3% won by 4, and 28% result in a tie

Penalty Kick Improvement

Camille Abily’s second penalty kick goal this past weekend in two attempts over the past three weeks has improved the WPS success rate on PK attempts to 43% (3 of 7), up from 20% (1 of 5) just one month ago. In addition, Abily’s goal putting Los Angeles up 2-1, gave her a third-game winning goal on the season.

Game-Winning Goals

Marta 3
Camille Abily 3
Lisa De Vanna 2

Goals Scored Intervals

After this weekend’s total of 7 goals in 3 games, the league is averaging exactly 2.25 goals per game through Week 11. Proving WPS’s exciting finishes, 18 of the 72 goals have occurred after the 75th minute mark, the most active interval of scoring in WPS games thus far in the season. Only six goals total have been scored in the middle 15 minutes of the second half from minutes 61-75, the least prolific period for WPS teams.

Total Average Per Game Games 1-15 15-30 31-45 46-60 61-75 76-90 Stoppage
72 2.25 32 10 12 12 14 6 16 2

Goals by the Numbers

Top Scorers – Los Angeles Sol’s Camille Abily (6), Boston Breakers’ Kelly Smith (5)

Goals by Team – Washington Freedom (16), Los Angeles Sol (15), Boston Breakers (10), FC Gold Pride (10), Chicago Red Stars (8), Saint Louis Athletica (7), Sky Blue FC (6)

Total Goals – 72 goals scored since WPS Inaugural Match on March 29, 2009 with an average of 2.25 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), Camille Abily (Los Angeles Sol – 6/7/09)

The Weekly Forecast

Saturday, June 13

Washington Freedom vs. Chicago Red Stars (4:30 pm ET)
RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.

Chicago travels to Washington in their third of four consecutive road games. The two teams tied 1-1 in mid-April at the Maryland SoccerPlex as Washington played most of the second-half with a man advantage following the red card to Red Stars defender Frida Ostberg. This game will be played at RFK Stadium as part of an MLS doubleheader. While Lindsay Tarpley was the goal-scorer early in the season for Chicago, it is now Brazilian international Cristiane who has put them on the board in two consecutive games. And while Cristiane’s nifty header in the second half against FC Gold Pride led to a draw this weekend, Chicago is still on a five-game winless streak dating back to April 24 – the longest on the WPS season thus far. Washington dropped its first contest in six games losing to Los Angeles in Week 11 and will try and keep their hold on second place in the WPS Standings with a win at home. Chicago has yet to lose on the road – the only team in WPS unbeaten in away matches. A win by Chicago would move them into second in the table, if Sunday’s game between Saint Louis and Boston were to end in a tie.

Sky Blue FC vs. Los Angeles Sol (7 pm ET – NBCU)
Yurcak Field, Piscataway, NJ

The two teams have met twice already this season and this will be their final regular season match-up in 2009. So far it’s Marta 3, Sky Blue FC 0. They played in early April in New Jersey at TD Bank Park with Marta scoring twice in a three-minute span to give the Sol the 2-0 victory and last month Los Angeles snatched a narrow 1-0 victory on a late goal by Marta on a play that had some Sky Blue FC fans looking for an offside call. This will be the first meeting at Sky Blue FC’s regular home venue, Yurcak Field, and the Sol bring with them a 6-game winning streak that includes the 1-0 victory in May. Los Angeles has found a new go-to player in Camille Abily, who has scored goals in four consecutive games and now leads WPS with six goals, while Sky Blue FC is still looking for a consistent offensive threat. The New Jersey side has a league-low six goals on the season, but have shown the ability to surprise the best teams in WPS, defeating Boston and Chicago, when they were second and third in the standings, respectively.

Sunday, June 14

Boston Breakers vs. Saint Louis Athletica (6 pm ET – FSC)
Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA

This weekend’s WPS Sunday on FSC television match-up has huge implications in the WPS Standings. The winner could take over sole possession of second place based on Washington’s result on Saturday, while a loss for either team will keep that side mired in the middle of the WPS table for another week. Each team has at least one game in-hand on the others in the league. The two played in Boston’s home opener in April under cool conditions at Harvard Stadium with Boston winning 2-0 in a game which was part of the Athletica’s 3-game goalless drought to start the season. Since then Saint Louis has notched seven goals and is now tied with Boston for third in the league in goal differential at -1. Boston has not recorded a win since defeating Los Angeles on May 2 and has gone 0-1-2 during that time including two bye weeks, but the Breakers are one of only two teams in WPS that are undefeated at home (Los Angeles Sol, the other) in league play with a record of 2-0-1 at Harvard Stadium. Boston is playing the first of four games over an 11-day stretch that will test the depth of its line-up as the second half of the season gets in full swing with regular weekday matches.

Off Week

FC Gold Pride are off this weekend.

On TV

Universal Sports will air the match between Sky Blue FC and the Los Angeles Sol at 7pm ET/4pm Pacific live on Saturday, June 13 in regional markets.

The WPS Sunday on FSC match between the Boston Breakers and the Saint Louis Athletica will air on the Fox Soccer Channel on Sunday, June 14 at 7 pm ET.

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