2009 WPS Power Rankings: Week 11
In this week's edition of the Power Rankings, the Los Angeles Sol are at the top, while a few other teams go through the motions.
Let's take a look, shall we?
1. LOS ANGELES SOL
Ahhh, two wins and a draw...not bad. Now that's what you call "Home Cooking."
A string of three home matches in nine days saw the LA Sol inch closer to clinching a playoff berth by taking seven points out of a possible nine.
But in order to cook, you need a chef. France is known for being a hotbed of culinary visionaries and gluttonoud foodies all over, so who else than the team's unofficial chef-de-mision, Camille Abily of Rennes, to oversee preparations?
On Wednesday, the Sol's home shutout streak was silenced after nearly 500 match minutes (483, to be exact) when Cristiane of the Chicago Red Stars scored in the 88th minute.
The lead would only last two minutes as the former Olympique Lyonnais midfielder equalized off a poor save by Red Stars keeper Caroline Jonsson.
But that wasn't the last of Abily's scoring feast. In Washington, she would dish out seconds, and thirds.
A brace against the Washington Freedom would see Abily as the current leading goal-scorer with six in a 3-1 victory at Victoria Street.
In the 14th minute, a long pass by Shannon Boxx to Aya Miyama saw a waiting Abily, who slotted it home to give the Sol an early lead.
In the 60th minute, a penalty for a handball by Washington's Cat Whitehill saw Abily convert as she made Freedom net-minder Erin McLeod go the wrong direction. Brittany Bock would add another off a give-and-go from Marta in the 66th.
Freedom manager Jim Gabarra said it succinctly: “Obviously they are the best team in the league with so many weapons and so hard to stop.”
And while the Marta bobbleheads are already flying off the shelves, perhaps some Camille Abily bobbleheads could come in handy as well. As well as some fine wine from the Brittany region to go with those galettes and cotriade.
One cannot spell reliABILitY, or even ABILitY without those letters that have been capped in the words of the aforementioned sentence.
Next Saturday, Abner Rogers's women will take on a Sky Blue FC side that wants to do some home cooking of their own, after dropping the last home meeting 2-0. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00PM ET and will be televised by NBC Universal Sports.
2. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA
Jorge Barcellos's Athletica bounced back from their humbling defeat to the Sol with a 1-0 victory over Sky Blue FC at their new friendly confines: the Anheuser Busch Soccer Park in Fenton.
Donning special white and pink uniforms to raise Breast Cancer Awareness, Amanda Cinalli's debut with St. Louis was memorable, to say the least.
In the 15th minute, Cinalli received a pass from Eniola Aluko inside the penalty area. Angie Woznuk found the former Chelsea Ladies star, who assisted on the first goal for Cinalli, the rookie out of Notre Dame who was selected by Athletica in the second round of the WPS draft.
Hope Solo not only kept the Sol honest with her words, but she also kept Sky Blue FC honest with her saves.
Solo, the US National Team starting goalkeeper, made six stops in the shutout.
“It was a great build up coming up the field. We worked it to Aluko and she had a great cross and I was in the right place at the right time,” said Cinalli after the match. “It was a great feeling and it has been so much fun to be a part of this team so it was great to be out there contributing.”
“The important thing is that we took the three points today,” said Barcellos following the contest. “[Defender] Stephanie Logterman gave us a lot of quality on the outside of the defense.
"Cinalli was a very good marking player today, and she really helped the team and of course scored the goal, but we will take her progress slowly as she makes her way back.”
The victory puts Athletica back in the hunt for a playoff position as they sit at fourth place in the standings.
Next week, Athletica travels to Harvard Stadium to face off against the Boston Breakers. Kickoff at Soldiers Field is scheduled for 6:00PM ET and will be covered by Fox Soccer Channel.
3. WASHINGTON FREEDOM
A five-game unbeaten streak went down the drain at Victoria Street for Jim Gabarra's Freedom. The ladies in red were looking to exact their revenge for their 2-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Sol in the Inaugural Game.
They did score in the 58th minute thanks to Sonia Bompastor's goal from a set piece pass by Cat Whitehill but they fell to LA again, this time by the score of 3-1.
The second-half equalizer was wasted when a clearance by Whitehill went off her arm. Camille Abily converted the penalty, and the home side never looked back.
“It was a fairly even game, but we made three pretty bad defensive lapses," Gabarra said after the match. "[The Sol] have been taking advantage of those all year and they did [it] again today.
“We got the equalizer, but next time they were in our end we gave up a hand ball.”
With the gap between Los Angeles and the rest of the league starting to widen than that between the upper-class and the poverty-stricken, the Freedom are in desperate need of getting back on the winning track.
Washington will return to RFK Stadium on Saturday to face the Chicago Red Stars in a WPS/MLS doubleheader. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30PM ET.
4. BOSTON BREAKERS
During the bye week, the reserve team of the Boston Breakers received some well-earned recognition.
Kasey Moore and Ashley Phillips of Boston Aztec were named to the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Team on the Week for Jun. 2.
Moore was named WPSL Co-Player of the week after leading Aztec to victories over the Lancaster Inferno and Millburn Magic.
In those two matched, Phillips, Aztec's goalkeeper, made five one-on-one saves, allowing just one goal.
The Breakers themselves return to action on Sunday, Jun. 14, as they face St. Louis Athletica at Harvard Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00PM ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
5. CHICAGO RED STARS
It was a week that should have seen Emma Hayes' Red Stars earn at least four points. At the very least.
But in spite of Cristiane opening her WPS scoring account with one goal each against both the Los Angeles Sol and FC Gold Pride, it all amounted to a couple of 1-1 draws in the end.
But at least one positive can be taken from their tour of the Golden State. One of those is getting at least one point. But a more important positive for the Red Stars is that they CAN score.
Albeit, it took a little Brazilliance from a certain footballing paulistana to get it done.
In the 88th minute last Wednesday at the Home Depot Center, Cristiane, who last plied her trade with Sao Paulo club Corinthians, broke open the scoring deadlock off an assist by substitute Ella Masar.
The goal sparked a few celebratory acrobatics, to the delight of even the home fans.
At Buck Shaw Stadium, Cristiane-whose full name is Cristiane Rozeira de Souza Silva-was at it again. A pass from Megan Rapinoe down the left side line in the 47th minute found the #11 for Chicago, who sent it past goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
"I thought the first half was really poor by our standards," Hayes said following the match on Sunday. "I think playing two games back-to-back takes its toll on you.
"We bounced back really well we lost 1-0 at home to [FC Gold Pride]. For us to get a point away from home is a great stepping stone and we know we can play better than that.
"In the end we had chances to win the game as did they."
The question for Red Stars fans is written on the walls of Toyota Park: can the Women of the Windy City prevail against a Washington Freedom team hungry for a breath of fresh air inside the hostiles confines of RFK Stadium?
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Jun. 13 at 4:30PM ET. The match is part of a WPS/MLS doubleheader. The match will be followed up by DC United taking on the Chicago Fire in a blockbuster matchup between MLS Eastern Conference leaders.
6. FC GOLD PRIDE
Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride continues to slink into the doldrums. An early lead was foiled by Cristiane to turn a badly-needed win at home against the Chicago Red Stars into a 1-1 draw.
The Lionesses of the Bay got on the board early thanks to Christine Sinclair's goal in the 15th minute, off a feed by Eriko Arakawa.
"For me its just being comfortable with the team," said Sinclair on scoring goals following the match. "To come in late to a team where you don't really know anyone it's an interesting position to be out in to.
"I think the team has come together very nicely. We're starting to sort of click up front.
"We could have scored a couple more goals today, but for me personally, when the goals start going, your confidence starts going up, which is nice because it's something I didn't have the first couple of games this season when it seemed we were all missing open nets, that gets kind of frustrating as a forward."
Montoya put the recent performance by club in stride.
"We're playing well it's not like we're going out there and being completely outplayed and having that mentality there's so much parity any given day, any team can win," he said after the match. "Paying attention to details, staying focused, I think more often than not...that is what's going to win games in the second half of the season.
"If we can find a way to correct that, I think we're going to be very dangerous. It's just a matter of time to get hot, get on a roll, once you win one or two games you build a lot of momentum and that goes in your favor."
And the Pride will need all the momentum they can get. With the 2009 WPS season past the halfway point, and Montoya's club enjoying a bye week, every remaining point that is possible will be mission-critical to FC Gold Pride's playoff prospects.
Following the bye week, the Pride heads to the East Coast-and Harvard Stadium-for a date with the Boston Breakers. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00PM ET and will be televised by Comcast Sports Net.
7. SKY BLUE FC
The women of Kelly Lindsey's Sky Blue FC were shut out again, this time by St. Louis Athletica at the Anheuser Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, 1-0.
In the defeat, the visitors from New Jersey outshot St. Louis 14-10 (shots on goal 6-4) and had more corner opportunities (5-2), but could not get one past the reach and reactions of Athletica keeper Hope Solo.
With the defeat, Sky Blue FC drop to the bottom of the WPS standings (2-5-2, 8 pts) and are in need of positive results to get back in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Sky Blue FC will return to Yurcak Field with one last shot to salvage their series with the Los Angeles Sol on Saturday, Jun. 11. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00PM and will be televised by NBC Universal Sports.
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