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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WPS Weekly by Rob Penner

Starting XI

WPS Weekly – Tuesday, April 14

Courtesy of Rob Penner, Communications Director of Women's Professional Soccer.

Weekend Report

Saturday, April 11 saw the first Women’s Professional Soccer match end in a tie in a televised game between the Washington Freedom and Chicago Red Stars. The 1-1 draw also produced the league’s first red card, as a result of two cautions given to Chicago Red Stars defender Frida Ostberg. Ostberg will be ineligible to play in the Red Stars home opener next Sunday, April 19. Ostberg’s first caution resulted in a free kick for the Washington Freedom, which Becky Sauerbrunn capitalized on with a header drilled past Red Star keeper Caroline Jonsson. The Red Stars had scored in the 29th minute giving Lindsay Tarpley her second goal on the season.

The Boston Breakers came away with three points in a 2-0 victory Saturday against the Saint Louis Athletica, the only team yet to score their inaugural WPS goal. Breakers’ stars, Kelly Smith and Kristine Lilly, posted the game’s two goals. Smith assisted Lilly’s goal in the 87th minute, proving she will play a large role in the Breaker’s offensive play this season having already been involved in all three goals Boston has scored thus far. Saint Louis threatened to score in the first half with a header from Kerri Hanks, but have yet to find the back of the net.

In a second tie match, Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY) and FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) left the field with a 1-1 draw. Pride center back, Carrie Dew, tallied the first goal of the match in the 33rd minute off a deflected short corner from Tiffany Weimer. Sky Blue FC regained control of the match in the second half and Heather O’Reilly tied the match in the 76th minute on a fantastic ten-yard strike. O’Reilly wore the captain’s band this match as team leader and central defender Christie Rampone did not play in the match due to an injured hamstring.

Line Up Notables

Chicago Red Stars forward, Lindsay Tarpley, and Boston Breakers forward, Kelly Smith each notched their second goal on the season to move atop the scorer’s leaderboard with Marta, as the Los Angeles Sol were off this weekend.

Tarpley lead her team to a 1-0 victory against the Saint Louis Athletica two weekends ago and again put her team on the scoreboard with a nicely-placed lofted ball passed the outstretched arms of Washington Freedom keeper Briana Scurry.

Smith has been involved in all three of the Boston Breakers goals this season. She scored the Breakers inaugural WPS goal, drilling a ball past FC Gold Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart, in her team’s first match April 5. Smith continued as an offensive threat this weekend against the Saint Louis Athletica by finishing a through ball from Amy Rodriguez and then assisted Kristine Lilly’s goal with a cross to the left of Saint Louis keeper Hope Solo, in the 87th minute.

Rachel Buehler, Natasha Kai

Goals by the Numbers

Top Scorers – Marta (2), Kelly Smith (2), Lindsay Tarpley (2)

Goals by Team – Los Angeles Sol (4), Boston Breakers (3), FC Gold Pride (3), Chicago RedStars (2), Sky Blue FC (1), Washington Freedom (1), Saint Louis Athletica (0)

14 goals scored since WPS Inaugural Match on March 29, 2009

42.8% of all goals scored have come from International players (Marta – Brazil, Kelly Smith – England, Camille Abily – France, Eriko Arakawa – Japan)

42.8% of all goals scored have come from U.S. Women’s National Team capped players (Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett, Heather O’Reilly, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsay Tarpley)

The remaining two goals have been scored by true WPS rookies, who just completed their college careers this fall: Stanford defender Allison Falk and Notre Dame standout Carrie Dew each notching one goal.

WPS Player of the Week

The league will officially vote on and recognize a WPS Player of the Month on its website at the end of each month. The nominees for Player of the Month will come from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) which selects a WPS Player of the Week.

For the WPS Inaugural Match, the Player of the Week was Aya Miyama (Los Angeles Sol) and for the first full week of action, the WPS Player of the Week was Marta - with her two-goal-in- four-minute performance in the Los Angeles Sol’s 2-0 victory over Sky Blue FC.

This week’s WPS Player of the Week selection went to Kelly Smith, whose one goal and one assist, led the Boston Breakers to victory in their home opener. All three players are now eligible to win the WPS Player of the Month award for April.

Busy Week for English Internationals

It’s the beginning of a busy week for several top WPS internationals. England national team coach Hope Powell has called up WPS stars Alex Scott (Boston Breakers), Anita Asante (Sky Blue FC), Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers), Karen Carney (Chicago Red Stars) and Eniola Aluko (Saint Louis Athletica) for England’s friendly against Norway in Shrewsbury, England on Thursday, April 23.

Leslie Osborne, Heather OReilly

Quotables From Notables

A few words from players and coaches…

“Obviously it’s a big win. Nobody wants to go into a third game without any points,” said Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco. “Everybody was a little disappointed, not with our effort, but with our level of play last week. This (Saint Louis) was a good team. It could have gone either way. For us to get three points was huge.’’

“Our focus at this point has to be to score goals, we are playing well together and creating chances but we have to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Athletica Captain Lori Chalupny. “I don’t know why we aren’t scoring. Part of it is being unlucky, we had some great shots that just took a deflection or something. We just need to stay composed around the box.”

“Christie might have been able to go tonight but it’s not worth it for us,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Ian Sawyers on Rampone not playing. “She is too valuable and we wanted to give her another weeks rest to see if we can get her healthy so we don’t lose her for three, four or five weeks time.”

“You’re playing against Heather O’Reilly and Natasha Kai,” said Brandi Chastain regarding FC Gold Pride’s tie match. “These are players that tear apart international teams. So I think our backline did a hell of a job under the circumstances. Small field, at night, speedy team, I think they deserve a lot of credit.”

“She clocked me a good one, but my head’s a coconut so I just bounced back up,” said Sky Blue FC forward Natasha Kai on her collision with FC Gold Pride goalkeeper, Nicole Barnhart.

The Weekly Forecast

Saturday, April 18
Washington Freedom vs. Boston Breakers (7 pm ET)

Maryland SoccerPlex, Germantown, MD

A match-up of the two teams in WPS with namesakes from the old WUSA. The Washington Freedom broke their scoring drought with a pinpoint header by Becky Sauerbrunn in the 54th minute to tie the Chicago Red Stars, while Boston notched its first WPS win over Saint Louis last Saturday. This game will pit Boston’s strength up the middle, with Kelly Smith as the lead playmaker and Amy Rodriguez’s speed up front, against the Freedom’s exciting play along the flanks from the likes of Lisa DeVanna and Sonia Bompastor. Look for Freedom’s Homare Sawa to try and get more involved in the attack, while Abby Wambach will hope to improve her finishing touch and put one in the back of the net after missing some good scoring opportunities last week. Smith and teammate Alex Scott will play the first of three games in seven days, traveling to England during the week for the national team friendly against Norway before returning for the Breakers match-up against Chicago on April 25.

Sunday, April 19
Los Angeles Sol vs. FC Gold Pride (4 pm ET)

Home Depot Center, Carson, CA

Early bragging rights to the Golden State are on the line between California rivals Los Angeles Sol and FC Gold Pride, as they square off for the first of four regular season match-ups. It’s also a match-up of the top two teams in the WPS standings as the Sol return to the Home Depot Center for the first time since their triumphant debut in the WPS Inaugural Match. The teams know each other about as well as any WPS teams having played two preseason games in mid-March. The Sol is led by the possession-minded triangle offense of Aya Miyama, Han Duan and Marta, while the FC Gold Pride look to Eriko Arakawa and Tiffany Weimer for creativity on the offensive half. But while the FC Gold Pride feature veterans like Brandi Chastain and Tiffeny Milbrett, it could be a pair of rookies from Notre Dame who could impact the outcome as Carrie Dew (FC Gold Pride) and Brittany Bock (Los Angeles Sol) have quickly become key role players on both teams.

Sunday, April 19

Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC (6 pm ET - FSC)

Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

The last of the seven WPS home openers comes four weeks into the season and will feature the first-ever game for a women’s professional soccer team in Chicago. The Red Stars opened with two games on the road, defeating Saint Louis and drawing with Washington, and now have five straight games at Toyota Park including two home games against Sky Blue FC three weeks apart. The big city rivalry between Chicago and New Jersey/New York will heat up four times during the WPS regular season and will feature a pair of English-born coaches in Emma Hayes for Chicago and Ian Sawyers with Sky Blue FC. On the field, the Red Stars have been paced offensively by Kalamazoo, Michigan-native Lindsay Tarpley while goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson has been a rock in goal facing a barrage of shots in the opening two games, but yielding just one goal. Brazilian star Cristiane saw some playing time this past Saturday for Chicago and it will be curious to see if she starts this weekend. The same goes for veteran defender Christie Rampone, out this past week for Sky Blue FC with an injured hamstring.

Off Week

Saint Louis Athletica are off this weekend.


The WPS Sunday on FSC match featuring Chicago Red Stars vs. Sky Blue FC will air on the Fox Soccer Channel on Sunday, April 19th at 6 pm ET.

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