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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WPS Weekly by Rob Penner: Season Review and Playoff Preview

WPS Weekly

WPS Weekly – Tuesday, August 11
by Rob Penner, Communications Director of Women's Professional Soccer

Editor's Note:

I would like to thank Mr. Penner and WPS for their very comprehensive weekly updates this season for the readers of World Football Commentaries.

2009 Final Regular Season Standings

Team GP W L T GF GA Points
Los Angeles Sol 20 12-3-5 27 10 41
Saint Louis Athletica 20 10-6-4 19 15 34
Washington Freedom 20 8-7-5 32 32 29
Sky Blue FC 20 7-8-5 19 20 26
Boston Breakers 20 7-9-4 18 20 25
Chicago Red Stars 20 5-10-5 18 25 20
FC Gold Pride 20 4-10-6 17 28 18

Marta of the Los Angeles Sol won the WPS Golden Boot.

WPS Playoffs – TV Schedule (ET)

First Round Sat, Aug. 15 Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, MD 4pm – FSN
Super Semifinal Wed, Aug. 19 The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, St. Louis, MO 7pm–FSC
WPS Championship Sat, Aug. 22 The Home Depot Center, Carson, CA 3:30pm – FSN
WPS All-Star Game Sun, Aug. 30 The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, St. Louis, MO 5 pm–FSC/FSN

TV listings for First Round: http://www.womensprosoccer.com/Home/schedule/2009-tv-schedule.aspx

Kick-Off Times (ET)

Playoff Chart

WPS's Player of the Week award is selected by a panel of writers with the North American Soccer Reporters.

WPS Players of the Week

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)
Week 12: Eniola Aluko (Saint Louis Athletica)
Week 13: Erin McLeod (Washington Freedom)
Week 14: Marta (Los Angeles Sol)
Week 15: Lindsay Tarpley (Chicago Red Stars)
Week 16: Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars)
Week 17: Natasha Kai (Sky Blue FC)
Week 18: Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
Week 19: Lindsay Tarpley (Chicago Red Stars)
Week 20: Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

Note: Weeks 1-2 selected by The Soccer Magazine; weeks 3-20 selected by North American Soccer Reporters panel.

Team by Team Regular Season Attendance

Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Avg.

LA 14,832 6,119 6,210 6,115 dh 3,832 5,497 4,593 4,653 4,841 6,299
CHI 5,824 4,118 3,664 4,884 4,590 3,889 4,124 5,127 5,226 7,959 4,941
BOS 4,804 8,031 4,241 4502 3,128 3,105 4,009 4,075 4,125 6,631 4,665
WSH 5,028 4,232 5,149 dh 4,474 5,049 5,143 4,606 3,123 4,573 4,597
STL 5,008 4,228 3,860 3124 2,731 3,014 3,726 4,212 4,986 3,437 3,833
FCGP 6,459 3,321 2,533 6,280 2,956 2,861 2,203 3,873 2,324 3,856 3,667
NJ 6,053 2,753 3,493 4138 2,611 3,256 1,878 3,746 3,130 5,455 3,651
dh – doubleheaders with MLS not counted in attendance

Goals by the Numbers

Top Scorers – Los Angeles Sol’s Marta (9), Los Angeles Sol’s Camille Abily (8), Washington Freedom’s Abby Wambach (8), Chicago Red Star’s Cristiane (7)

Goals by Team – Washington Freedom (32), Los Angeles Sol (27), Saint Louis Athletica (19), Sky Blue FC (19), Boston Breakers (18), Chicago Red Stars (18), FC Gold Pride (17)

Total Goals – 150 goals scored since WPS Inaugural Match on March 29, 2009 with an average of 2.14 goals per game.

Quickest Goal in League Play: 2nd minute of play, Eniola Aluko – Saint Louis Athletica vs. Sky Blue FC (6/28/09), Kelly Smith – 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)

Quickest back-to-back goals by both teams: 2 goals in 58 seconds – 46 minute, 47 minute – from Kacey White and Lisa De Vanna in Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Freedom match (7/15/09)

Most Goals in One Game by one team: 4, Los Angeles Sol 4-0 Chicago Red Stars (6/27/09), Washington Freedom 4-3 FC Gold Pride (4/26/09), Chicago Red Stars 4-0 Boston Breakers (4/25/09), and Sky Blue FC 4-4 Washington Freedom (7/15/09)

Most Goals in One Game by both teams: 8, Sky Blue FC 4-4 Washington Freedom (7/15/09)

Most Goals in a Game by a player: 3, Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Gold Pride – 7/12/09)

Penalty Kick Rates: 64% success rate, 7 out of 11 attempted

Longest Scoring Drought: 451 minutes, Chicago Red Stars

Saturday, August 15

WPS Playoffs – First Round
Washington Freedom vs. Sky Blue FC (4 pm ET – FSN)
Maryland SoccerPlex, Boyds, MD

These I-95 rivals played some riveting games this season, including the highest-scoring affair in WPS, when the Washington Freedom scored late in stoppage time to steal a 4-4 tie in mid-July. In three games this year, the Freedom outscored Sky Blue FC 9-6 going 2-0-1 against their East Coast rivals. This WPS First Round will be a re-match of last week’s playoff clinching match-up at the Maryland SoccerPlex, when the Freedom rode two goals by Abby Wambach to a 3-1 victory and the right to host the first playoff game in WPS history. The rematch was made possible when Boston lost to Los Angeles the next day, clinching a spot for Sky Blue FC. The Freedom are coming in hot, having won four of their last five games and were a solid 5-2-3 at home this year, the second-best home record in the league (some games played at RFK Stadium).

To have any chance at advancing to the Super Semifinal, Sky Blue FC will have to neutralize Washington’s potent offense like they did to other teams’ this season with stingy defense. The Freedom’s nine goals against Sky Blue FC accounted for almost half of the goals scored against the New Jersey side all regular season; indeed, the rest of the league notched only 11 goals against Sky Blue FC. Goalkeeper Jenni Branam will need to come up with some big stops, while player-coach Christie Rampone and the defensive backline will need to put Wambach and speedy Lisa De Vanna on lockdown.

One huge X-factor for Washington will be the absence of French midfielder Sonia Bompastor, one of the most exciting players in WPS this season. Bompastor had a hand in one-third of the Freedom’s nine goals this year against Sky Blue FC with an assist or score. She is now with the French national team at the 2009 European Championships and the Freedom will look to Ali Krieger, who joined the team from FFC Frankfurt in midseason, or perhaps Allie Long to carry some of the pressure of that playmaking midfielder role.

On the Sky Blue FC’s offensive side, getting goal production from star forward Natasha Kai will be absolutely crucial. Sky Blue FC is an impressive 4-0-1 this season when Kai puts the ball in the back of the net, the only blemish being the 4-4 tie with Washington when Kai scored twice. Unlike Washington, Sky Blue FC doesn’t have a variety of players who can score, with Rosana and Kacey White the only others who’ve shown consistent scoring ability. Winning on the road hasn’t come easy for Sky Blue FC – they are 2-6-2 this year – but nothing this season has come easy, as they have stared down adversity time and again, both on-and-off the field in 2009 to make the playoffs.

This game could come down to one fantastic play – a key save or a great score – and how the team that falls behind after the first goal in the history of the WPS Playoffs stares adversity in the face. Expect an exciting match down to the final minute.

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