Bridgeview, Ill. (May 11, 2009)—Prior to last night's matchup between Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars in Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), Sky Blue's Heather O'Reilly commented that her side needed to have confidence in each other and showcase their one-on-one abilities.
Both proved vital, as Collette McCallum threaded the needle to Sarah Walsh in the seventh minute, who deftly tucked away the ball into left netting, earning the franchise's first game-winning goal.
O'Reilly superbly filled the role of team leader, as she tirelessly ran at defenders and pushed the ball through to open teammates. The speed of Sky Blue's offense, particularly O'Reilly and Walsh is impressive, as are Walsh's crisp, well-timed runs (which should only get better).
With McCallum's playmaking abilities, there is no doubt that this team would hit its stride—it was just a matter of when.
Chicago, on the other hand, appeared to be a different squad than the one that drilled Boston 4-0 two weeks ago (a Smith-less Boston, that is).
Their sparks of creativity were few and ultimately fruitless. Sky Blue's Keeley Dowling kept pace with Chicago's Megan Rapinoe, no easy task, and Julianne Sitch was a relentless ball winner in the midfield for Sky Blue.
Although she was on the finishing end of a Kelly Parker effort in the 78th minute (started by McCallum), Sky Blue's Natasha Kai was noticeably out of sorts yesterday. Hopefully, becoming only the third Sky Blue player to find the back of the net will help her regain her stride and propel her towards the game-changing performances for which she is known.
If there is one takeaway from last night's match, it is the strength and potential of each team in this league.
Last week, Sky Blue sat on the bottom of the standings, and yet, last night was a better team than Chicago, who were deemed "red-hot" just two weeks ago.
I look forward to the evident development of teams even on a weekly basis, as they start to work out the kinks and gain familiarity with each other, and for more breakout performances by relatively unknown American players.
Sky Blue moves into a three-way tie for fifth place in the standings with last night's win. Sky Blue FC returns to action on Friday, May 15th, when it travels to Los Angeles to face the Sol at 10:30 PM EST at the Home Depot Center. The match will be televised live on Universal Sports.
This story was excerpted from a Press Release by Sky Blue FC of the WPS. Photo Credit: Tracy Allen | ISIphotos.net.