Talk about madness up and down the pipeline. Cue the song "Shakedown" by Bob Seger.
This week's edition of the rankings sees St. Louis Athletica and Sky Blue make their move up with breakthrough victories, while FC Gold Pride, and Chicago move down.
1. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA
After receiving forward Christie Welsh and defender Kendall Fletcher from the LA Sol in a trade earlier in the week, St. Louis finally opened their account of wins with a 1-0 victory over FC Gold Pride at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.
Stirred on from the loss of Brazlian Daniela, captain Lori Chalupny led the charge with a bending volley in the 16th minute that went past Gold Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart. Athletica's defense, led by goalkeeper Hope Solo and defender Sara Larsson, held firm for the remainder of the match to seal the shutout.
For manager Jorge Barcellos, it was a huge weight thrown off his shoulders.
“I feel a lot more relaxed,” Barcellos said, following the match. “It is kind of hard when you are representing a town and a city and you can’t get a win in four games."
"When you get the win you are relieved that you finally got what you are looking for.”
For Chalupny, the eventual game-winner was all about luck.
“I was looking far-post trying to challenge the keeper since it was one of the first corners of the game,” said Chalupny after the match. “I can’t say I meant to do that but sometimes you get lucky."
"Those are the ones you put your head down and say we got some luck on our side.”
With two draws and a win from their last three games, St. Louis will take the week off before heading off to Toyota Park to take on the Chicago Red Stars. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30PM ET.
2. BOSTON BREAKERS
Boston maintains their spot at second with a 0-0 draw against the Los Angeles Sol. In spite of outshooting LA 11-8 for the contest, the Breakers' Kelly Smith and Kristine Lilly were held at bay in a evenly-fought contest.
Manager Tony DiCicco was glad to take the split.
“Getting the point on the road is not a bad result,” said DiCicco after the match. “I’m not totally satisfied, but I think it was probably the right result."
Next Sunday, the Breakers play host to the Washington Freedom in a match that will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00PM ET at Harvard Stadium.
3. WASHINGTON FREEDOM
Jim Gabarra's Freedom were spared having to deal with any upsets, sitting at No. 3 in the rankings.
Over the off week, Sonia Bompastor was awarded WPS Player of the Week honors, while Abby Wambach was facing the music from her tackle on Daniela against St. Louis Athletica last weekend.
Also creating a buzz in Germantown was the arrival of Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
“It’s like being able to exhale for the first time in three months,” said a relieved McLeod, who played for the Ottawa Fury before signing with the Freedom. “It’s nice to focus on soccer and not worry about being there."
“I love the game and I’m passionate about it. I feed off of other people’s energy. I love to compete and I love the competitive atmosphere. If I can contribute to that and we can feed off of that I think we can all make each other better.”
McLeod will get a chance to do just that as Washington hits the road to face the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium next Sunday.
4. SKY BLUE FC
While St. Louis was relishing in the glory of their first victory, Sky Blue were the only team in the WPS without a win to their column.
It only lasted a day, give or take a few hours.
Ian Sawyer's club made the most of their trip to Bridgeview's Toyota Park, by topping the Chicago Red Stars 2-0. Needless to say, Sky Blue's general manager was chuffed.
"Obviously to come in playing such a strong side in Chicago we knew we had our work cut out for us, but we had a great week of practice - we reestablished our structure, talked about our goals and getting results," said Sawyers following the match. "I was very proud of the way the team played today – they played with a lot of heart and a lot of poise."
"We started scoring goals which is a good sign for us because we have some good goal scorers."
Sky Blue's first goal in the match came at the feet of Sarah Walsh in the eighth minute off a feed by Collette McCallum. In the 78th, Natasha Kai doubled their advantage with a tap-in from five yards out.
The visitors outshot Chicago 12-6 in the contest.
Sky Blue's road trip continues when they face a Los Angeles Sol side in need of a return to form on Friday night at the Home Depot Center.
5. LOS ANGELES SOL
The Sol also make a move up the rankings this week with their 0-0 draw against the Boston Breakers on Mother's Day at the Home Depot Center.
The fans in attendance were hoping that Marta and Company would rebound from their defeat at Harvard Stadium, so that they would get free tickets to watch them take on Chicago, as part of their promotion.
Turns out, it wasn't the case, and for manager Abner Rogers, there was one area to blame. And it wasn't the tragedy surrounding Hugo Bustamante, a supporter of the Sol who was the victim of a murder-suicide.
"The chances were there today, but we need to finish better," said Rogers following the match. "I thought we played a good first half but we lacked quality finishing."
"Boston is a very good team and you're not going to get many opportunities to score against them."
A short turnaround awaits Los Angeles before Sky Blue FC comes to town on Friday at 10:30 PM ET.
6. CHICAGO RED STARS
The parity of this league could not have been any more pronounced this weekend. Emma Hayes' Red Stars take the biggest drop this week to the sixth spot.
“I don’t think any one of our players had a good game today,” the Red Stars manager said following the match. “You can’t win games if your players are under-performing."
"Unfortunately, we didn’t do some basic things, got exposed and were punished for it. I don’t think it was one single area, I thought it was everywhere.”
Indeed, it was everywhere.
All over the pitch, Sky Blue had done their homework on defense, preventing Chicago's offense from threatening until the 62nd minute, when an attempt by Carli Lloyd from Cristiane failed to equalize.
Red Stars midfielder Megan Rapinoe gave credit where it was due.
"Give credit to their back line, they stepped together and they stepped well," Rapinoe said following the match. "We didn’t do well with our timing - we held on to the ball a little too long, we were a little too anxious making our runs and we were just off today.”
In a league like the WPS, teams can bounce back. Chicago has an opportunity to do just that against FC Gold Pride on Saturday, May 16 at Toyota Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30PM ET.
7. FC GOLD PRIDE
The Pride takes the cellar this week, after they fell to St. Louis Athletica, 1-0.
Numerous opportunities for the Pride were waiting for them like steaks on hooks in the second half, but Albertin Montoya's club could not sink their teeth into even one, as the St. Louis defense thwarted any equalizing threats.
"I'm definitely disappointed, but more so for the girls," said Montoya following the match. "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."
The Lionesses of the Bay head northward on their tour of Illinois to face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night at Bridgeview's Toyota Park.