2009 WPS Weekly Power Rankings: Week 15
In a league like the WPS, we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all footballers are created equal, that they are endowed by the footballing gods that be with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of postseason happiness.
As the Los Angeles Sol perch on the doorstep of winning the Women's Professional Soccer regular season championship, the teams below jostle for the other three playoff spots up for grabs.
Without further ado, let's take a look in this week's power rankings.
1. LOS ANGELES SOL
As you are taking note of this week's rankings, I have a notice in my hand, which I will read. By the way, the notice is seen below.
[start of notice]
To all teams in Women's Professional Soccer:
The players, coaches, staff and fans of the Los Angeles Sol (as well as our mascot Sunny T. Shark) are here to announce that the 2009 WPS Championship Game will be played in the same venue that hosted the 2009 WPS Inagural Game: the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
We will keep you informed with more details. We appreciate your cooperation.
The Los Angeles Sol
[end of notice]
Of course, they need to take out St. Louis Athletica to really make it official, or they need the Boston Breakers to lose.
Whatever the case, all signs point to the first piece of hardware going to Abner Rogers's club.
The Sol had to struggle through 91 minutes, but a pass from Aya Miyama found the franchise player you all know simply as...
Marta. Her ninth goal of the season allowed LA to steal three points from the Washington Freedom in a 1-0 victory at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
In the second half Los Angeles had seven shots on goal, compared to one for the Freedom.
After their Wednesday match (which will kick off at 3:00 p.m. ET at Victoria Street), Los Angeles will wrap up their season with three road games.
The victory, however, was not without its cost. Defender Christie Shaner was injured in the second half with a mid-shaft tibia/fibula fracture in her right leg and may likely be out for the season.
Whether or not the Sol will continue to march on without Shaner's services the rest of the season remains to be seen.
2. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA
Returning to the No. 2 spot this week are Jorge Barcellos's St. Louis Athletica. And like the Sol, they had to earn their three points. Even Barcellos knew it.
Lori Chalupny was clutch in delivering three important points, as Barcellos alluded after the match.
A 73rd minute blast outside the left edge of the penalty area was all St. Louis needed in a 1-0 victory over FC Gold Price on Sunday night at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
The goal was Chalupny's second of the season.
And on a day that commemorated the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup performance for Mia Hamm and Team USA, it was current USA goalkeeper Hope Solo who made magic of her own with two key stops in the 69th minute to keep her clean sheet intact.
In the first half, Athletica had five opportunities to break open the scoring, with Eniola Aluko's shot in the 29th minute saved by Fc Gold Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart. Aluko and Tancredi were relentless in their hunger for grabbing the ascendancy.
Athletica outshot the Pride 12 to nine and also had more shots on goal (eight to five).
The possibility of the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Parking hosting both the first WPS Super Semifinal and WPS All-Star Game in the league's history will only add to the club's CV.
In a bid to keep the momentum going, St. Louis Athletica will look to salvage a victory against the Los Angeles Sol on Wednesday at the Home Depot Center.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET.
3. SKY BLUE FC
Gee whiz, everyone—We are having 1-0 victories left and right this week, aren't we?
This week, Sky Blue FC got the upper hand against the Boston Breakers at Yurcak Field on Independence Day.
Heather O'Reilly and Jenni Branam were instrumental in earning important points for Kelly Lindsey's club.
In the sixth minute, O'Reilly's corner kick sent one past the hands of Breakers goalkeeper Allison Lipsher. Overall, Sky Blue FC outshot Boston 13-12.
Branam made five saves in earning her fourth clean sheet of the year minding the nets for the Jersey girls. Her biggest stop came late in the match, when she cleared away a shot from Breakers substitute Jennifer Nobis.
Sky Blue FC had a number of opportunities to open scoring proceedings even further.
In the 32nd minute, Kacey White's feed to Rosana saw Lipsher come off her line to make the save, while a 22-yard volley from Collette McCallum in the 35th dinged off the crossbar.
Sky Blue FC is now just a single point behind the Breakers for the final playoff spot. An opportunity for the resurgent Ladies of Lindsey to overtake Boston awaits inside Harvard Stadium on Sunday, July 12.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
4. BOSTON BREAKERS
Tony DiCicco's Breakers are on the make after dropping a 1-0 howler to Sky Blue FC at Joe Yurcak Field.
In spite of dropping a corner from Heather O'Reilly in the sixth minute, Boston goalkeeper Allison Lipsher made six saves in the defeat.
The Breakers' best scoring opportunities came before the halftime whistle, when chances for Angela Hucles and Amy Rodriguez were closed down by a tenacious sky Blue FC defense—led by netminder Jenni Branam.
The loss snapped a two-game win streak and a three-game unbeaten streak for Boston.
The Breakers will get another crack at a victory against their rivals to the south.
And the timing couldn't be any better.
The 10th Anniversary of the USA's FIFA 1999 Women's World Cup victory will take place on Sunday, July 12. Danielle Fotopoulos, a veteran of the 1999 team, will sign autographs and greet fans before the game.
Fans will also have an opportunity after the match to pose with the trophy, DiCicco and Breakers team captain Kristine Lilly.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
5. CHICAGO RED STARS
Allow me some time to call Dr. Who. Let me get my mobile and punch in the numbers. A ringing noise. Here we go.
Hey Doctor Who. Yes, could you go right ahead and give me a stat on the Chicago Red Stars' season?
What? You mean to tell me there is a pulse? The shock pads were brought out in time? Unbelievable. All right, thanks for the update, Doc.
With my little call out of the way, we return to the rankings and to our surprise...Chicago has found the will to win again. A 2-1 victory over the Washington Freedom at Bridgeview's Toyota Park did the trick.
Now Emma Hayes' Red Stars have another distinction to their credit: the first team in WPS history to come behind to win a match.
Lindsay Tarpley, who would be named WPS Player of the Week for her heroics this match, had a shot in the 48th minute deflected by Washington Freedom goalkeeper Erin McLeod. But it went to Cristiane, who ended 451 goalless minutes with her second goal of the campaign.
In the 61st minute, Tarpley received a pass from Megan Rapinoe, juked a Freedom defender and sent one into the top left corner for her third goal of the season.
Caroline Jonsson had seven saves in the victory, while the Red Stars had more shots (28 to 16) and shots on goal (10 to eight) than the Freedom.
The victory, combined with FC Gold Pride's defeat, puts the Red Stars out of the cellar for now. But much work needs to be done if Chicago are to rise from the depths of Lake Michigan and steal a playoff spot.
A 1-0 defeat to the Ireland Senior Women's Squad later in the week should be sufficient evidence.
Aine O'Gorman scored a 40th minute goal for the Republic of Ireland.
Chicago outshot Ireland 16 to two in the friendly. However, outshooting the opposition in overwhelming fashion but failing to score is not going to help matters for the Red Stars.
On Sunday, July 12, Chicago gets a chance to improve their prospects with a match against laggards FC Gold Pride. Like Boston, the Red Stars will commemorate the USA's 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup victory over the Steel Roses of China.
Kickoff at Bridgeview is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET. Maybe O'Gorman might have a future playing in the Windy City?
6. WASHINGTON FREEDOM
Germantown is in a state of proverbial lockdown.
All right, maybe that was a bit of a stretch to day that. But Jim Gabarra's Freedom are picking the wrong time to slide down the standings.
With the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC chasing Washington for the fourth and final spot, the margin of error reduces with each passing match.
On Wednesday, the Freedom traveled to Bridgeview's Toyota Park to face the Red Stars. They would retreat to Germantown with a 2-1 loss, breaking a two-game unbeaten streak.
After Abby Wambach scored Washington's only goal in the 34th minute off a Lisa de Vanna feed, the Freedom proceeded to let Cristiane and Lindsay Tarpley score for Chicago in the second half.
Washington goalkeeper Erin McLeod made eight saves in the loss.
With the Freedom on the ropes from the eyebrow-raising result against the Red Stars, surely they would be able to make amends at home against the Los Angeles Sol, right?
Wrong. Marta's 91st minute goal from Aya Miyama confirmed that broken hearts wore blue on Sunday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
The good news for the Freedom is that there are six games remaining. But can Washington get a lion's share of these eighteen points up for grabs?
With a sense of urgency rising in the nation's capital, Washington will need to come to Yurcak Field with everything to play for. A defeat against Sky Blue FC on July 15 is the last thing on their minds.
Kickoff for the match in Piscataway is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
7. FC GOLD PRIDE
Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride slink into the cellar this week after losing 1-0 to St. Louis Athletica off a Lori Chalupny goal at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Perhaps the only major highlight of the match for FC Gold Pride was Sissi's return to the pitch.
The Pride's midfielders coach made her debut onto the field in the 78th minute, substituting for Carrie Dew.
FC Gold Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made seven saves in the defeat.
The defeat sees the Lionesses of the Bay facing elimination from the playoffs, with a 3-7-3 record and 12 points.
21 possible points are on the table, and you can bet that the people in Northern California will be pulling for the Pride to grab the lionesses' share of the spoils.
For those of you wondering, it's similar to lion's; the only difference is the vocabulary. But the bottom line is these: there be some very hungry cats down at Buck Shaw.
And they are on the prowl to chew on some Red Stars from Chicago—anything to sate their hunger for a shot at the playoffs.
Kickoff against the revitalized Women of the Windy City is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 12 and will be televised by Comcast Sports Net.
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