2009 WPS Power Rankings: Week 10
In this weeks edition of the rankings, top-ranked Los Angeles Sol have the challenge of two games in five days, while the others below move and shake above Chicago in the cellar.
Let's take a look.
1. LOS ANGELES SOL
At the top position this week are the Los Angeles Sol, who passed the first of three straight home examinations with a 2-0 victory over St. Louis Athletica.
And at the forefront was Captain Shannon. As in team captain Shannon Boxx, who opened her account with a goal in the 50th minute. A pass from Han Duan inside the box found the USA international, slotting it past Hope Solo.
Camille Abily also scored her third of the season in the 35th minute. Marta's botched bicycle kick deflected in her direction, and the French international sent it through.
The goal signaled a goal in consecutive matches for the former Olympique Lyonnais star. It was redemption well deserved. "I missed two goals before...so I am happy I scored," she said after the match.
Los Angeles had more shots than St. Louis (16-8, 8-4 on goal), corners (six to two) and saves (six to four) in the contest.
"We created a lot of opportunities," an enthused Abner Rogers said following the match. "We did a fantastic job defending in our backline, as well as our midfield. Our defense continues to do an outstanding job game to game. [Karina LeBlanc] has been making key saves and has benefitted the team."
But not all were impressed by Sol's performance on Sunday. "Just because you score goals does not make you a better team," said a defiant Solo after the game. "Do I think they play together as a team? Not so much. But they do have some great goalscorers."
Perhaps this will be the motivation the Sol needs in consolidating their lead (eight points clear at the top of the table) and building their chemistry as a team with matches against the reeling Chicago Red Stars (10:30PM ET Wednesday) and resurging Washington Freedom (6:00PM ET Sunday).
2. WASHINGTON FREEDOM
Nipping at the feet of the Sol is Jim Gabarra's Freedom, who scored an impressive 3-1 victory over FC Gold Pride at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
The home side came out of the gates early, thanks to a gift from Kristen Graczyk in the 16th minute. Her own goal off a deflection from Cat Whitehill was a sign of things to come.
In the 22nd minute, the Freedom's Lisa De Vanna scored off an pass from French international Sonia Bompastor. The Matilda eluded a Pride defender to tap one past goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart to make it 2-0.
"We’ve probably had a lot of corners; we hadn’t scored on any corner kicks so eventually the numbers game plays into that," said Gabarra on the Freedom's first goal after the match. "I think Cat made a great run and Sonia’s been great with her serve.
"[On the second goal] I actually yelled to Lisa, ‘come on, you’ve got to work’ and she stepped and pressed [the Sky Blue defense] and stole the ball and went on a breakaway and finished it nicely.”
Bompastor was the playmaker again in the 32nd minute, assisting on a goal for Whitehill. Erin McLeod was clutch once more, making four saves for the match.
Washington will be out to get revenge for their 2-0 defeat against the Los Angeles Sol in the WPS Inagural Game at the Home Dept Center next Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00PM ET, and will be covered by Fox Soccer Channel.
3. SKY BLUE FC
Los Angeles and Germantown weren't the only cities enjoying their home sides taking in another victory.
And apparently, Ian Sawyers's sacking was not a distraction for Sky Blue FC against the Boston Breakers. Actually, it seemed to be a blessing as they won 2-1 at Joe Yurcak Field at Rutgers University in Piscataway before 3,493.
The victory marked the first for Kelly Lindsey, who is the interim manager.
"Overall we talked about defensively constantly being in a good cover positions for each other so we could transition easy into our attack," Lindsey said after the match. "I thought our team did that across the board—forwards, midfielders and defenders.
"It makes it easy for the backs to get forward when your team is compact and winning the ball higher on the field."
Forward Natasha Kai, determined and renewed, broke open the scoring early. The former Hawaii product escaped a trap off a pass by Meghan Schnur to slip one past Breakers goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill in the fourth minute to make it 1-0 Sky Blue FC.
"Being here and on the national team, you have different roles," Kai said after the contest. "Being a professional, you have to accept a new role. If it’s my job to come off the bench and be that player for the team, then that’s my job and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability.
"I’m here for my girls—my team, my family. Ill do whatever it takes to help them win and lift their spirits up.
After a Boston equalizer in the 12th minute, Kacey White lobbed a shot from a Schnur feed over Luckinbill's reach that slipped underneath the crossbar in the 29th minute.
In spite of a botch save early in the first, Jenni Branam was solid between the posts, with five saves throughout the match.
"This is a different team," defender Christie Rampone said after the match. "We had a great week of practice and had a lot of fun today in the locker room.
"There was a lot of emotion going on but at the end of the day, we focused on soccer and we enjoyed it and you could see the passion on the field today."
Sky Blue FC will look to move up on the table next Sunday against St. Louis Athletica at the Anheuser Busch Center in Fenton, Missouri. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00PM ET.
4. BOSTON BREAKERS
Boston's three-match unbeaten run saw the wheels come off near the Jersey Turnpike as they dropped a 2-1 stunner to Sky Blue FC at Joe Yurcak Field.
"We were chasing the game. We didn’t play very good soccer—kind of played direct, chasing the game and trying to flight balls," said manager Tony DiCicco after the match. "They fought hard and tried to get the equalizer but the bad thing was that we knew coming in we were going to have to bring a mentality and we didn’t bring it."
The only goal for DiCicco's club came in the 12th minute. A cross by Alex Scott slipped past the hands of Jenni Branam, and into the feet of Kelly Smith for the equalizer.
To make matters worse for the Breakers late in the first half, Smith came down with an apparent knee injury.
"I think she had a collision with her English teammate (Anita Asante)," DiCicco said on the injury. "We’re not sure yet.
"The Sky Blue FC doctor didn’t think it was too serious but we’ll check it out when we get back to Boston."
With the lack of the English international's presence for the visitors, the Sky Blue FC defense were able to contain any attempts from Angela Hucles and captain Kristine Lilly to bring home another tying goal in the second half.
"I don’t think we were real good defensively today," added DiCicco. "Sky Blue FC attacked our back line well and scored two good goals."
Another bye week awaits Boston before they return to the friendly confines of Harvard Stadium to take on St. Louis Athletica on Sunday, June 14. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00PM and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
5. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA
The scoreless draw for Jorge Barcellos's Athletica turned out to be an aberration.
St. Louis goalkeeper Hope Solo didn't show it, but she was humbled on the pitch by a hungry Los Angeles Sol side in a 2-0 defeat at the Home Depot Center.
The Sol defense—led by Shannon Boxx, Allison Falk, and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc—broke up any hopes for any successful attack from the visitors.
“As a team we did not play very well today,” said Barcellos following the match. “We could have done a lot better; we could have completed our passes better as well.”
“We just seemed like we couldn’t get things going,” said a disappointed Lori Chalupny. “These was a lot of errant passing that was killing our attack at times.
"I think it was a frustrating game. I never felt like we got up to our potential for any period of time. And you can’t play like that against the top team in the league.”
The defeat put pressure on Athletica's hopes to make the playoffs. Currently, St. Louis is 12 points behind Los Angeles in the standings. A rebound is order for Athletica, or else someone among the Athletica supporters had better call in the Burgundians.
St. Louis hosts Sky Blue FC next Sunday at the Anheuser Busch Center in Fenton. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00PM ET.
6. FC GOLD PRIDE
It was not a day to remember for FC Gold Pride, who slumped to a 3-1 defeat to the Washington Freedom at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
TO make matters worse for Albertin Montoya's club, Carrie Dew was given two subsequent yellow cards by match official Sandra Serafini: first for a clumsy challenge on the Freedom's Abby Wambach and then for a verbal spat that saw her sent off in the 83rd minute.
It was the epitome of a miserable outing for the Pride, prisoners of an own goal by Kristen Graczyk and a 3-0 deficit at halftime. Christine Sinclair and Tiffany Milbrett teamed up for a consolation goal in the 57th minute.
But in spite of a formation change to try to cut into the lead further, along with outshooting the Freedom (15-12, 6-3 on goal), the damage had already been done.
"This was a difficult loss especially when we gave two goals up for them," said FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya. "You can't give anyone two goals in this league, it's very difficult to come back from that.
"I'm very proud of our team, they came out in the second half and played really well, created plenty of chances to get back in the game and scored a very good goal. It's difficult when thing's aren't going your way."
And the team at the bottom of the rankings this week, the Chicago Red Stars will be looking to get back on the winning track in a glorified pillow fight at Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00PM ET and will be covered by Comcast SportsNet.
7. CHICAGO RED STARS
The bye week sees Chicago stay at the cellar this week. With only one direction possible in the rankings (the only way being UP), Emma Hayes's Red Stars are in need of a positive result, starting with the Los Angeles Sol on Wednesday night at the Home Depot Center at 10:30 PM ET.
Last Saturday, the Red Stars took on the reserve side, the Chicago Red Eleven of the W-League, at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex Stadium.
A Cristiane goal in the 14th minute was the deciding factor in a 1-0 victory.
The match against Los Angeles is the first of four straight road contests for the Red Stars. The second will come on Sunday against FC Gold Pride at Buck Shaw Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00PM ET and will be covered by Comcast SportsNet.
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