2009 WPS Power Rankings: Week 19
(Photo courtesy of Scott Rovak/St. Louis Athletica)
The Los Angeles Sol is indeed beatable. Just ask the Chicago Red Stars, who give its home fans something to be happy about with one week of games in the regular season remaining. St. Louis returns to the top spot in this week's rankings.
Let's go right ahead and dissect the list for wonderful Week 19, which will see the European players take the rest of the season off for Women's Euro 2009.
1. St. Louis Athletica
It was a super Saturday for Athletica, by George! Mr. Jorge Barcellos witnessed the Green and Silver clinch the second spot in the Women's Professional Soccer standings.
Their 1-0 victory over the Boston Breakers at Fenton's very own Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, combined with Washington's shock defeat earlier in the day, allowed St. Louis to earn the right to host the Super Semifinal against either the Washington Freedom, Boston Breakers, or Sky Blue FC.
Once again, the elusive Eniola Aluko was up to her old scoring tricks. Amanda Cinalli slipped a pass to the England international inside the penalty area, and she did the rest in the 36th minute.
Athletica had five shots on goal, compared to the Breakers' two. Goalkeeper Hope Solo made two clutch saves to earn herself a clean sheet.
With second place already in hand, Athletica will use their final two matches with the Chicago Red Stars and FC Gold Pride as an opportunity to prepare for the crunch-time clash at the Busch in two weeks time.
Kickoff against Chicago is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 5. Athletica's season finale at Buck Shaw Stadium is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 9 at 5:00 p.m. PT (8:00 p.m. ET).
2. Washington Freedom
It was a hit-and-miss week for Jim Gabarra's Freedom.
The week began with the Boston Breakers visiting the Maryland SoccerPlex for a Wednesday night match. In the 73rd minute, Lisa de vanna delivered a pass to captain Abby Wambach, and she did the rest to give Washington a 1-0 victory over the Breakers.
The Freedom had the luxury of playing a man up for the bulk of the contest as Boston's Alex Scott was given her marching orders for her foul on Sonia Bompastor.
Washington outshot the Breakers 14-8, while goalkeeper Erin McLeod needed to make just one save on Wednesday.
Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University, it was a totally different situation.
An FC Gold Pride second-half rally saw Washington consigned to a 3-2 defeat.
In the losing effort, Homare Sawa chalked up her second and third goals of the season. A pass from Jill Gilbeau in the box saw the Nadeshiko Japan star score in the 17th minute.
Twenty minutes later, a cross from Bompastor met Sawa, who made Pride goalkeeper Allison Whitworth pay for a poor clearance.
McLeod made four saves in the loss. The setback also prevents the Freedom from clinching a playoff berth.
Everything boils down to Week 20's match with Sky Blue FC at the SoccerPlex. A victory or a draw will ensure that Washington will be playing a first-round tie with the Breakers.
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Also worth noting are the Freedom Reserves. Here we go again: Washington and the Pali Blues will be facing each other for the 2009 W-League championship on Friday at the SoccerPlex. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Can the Reserves get their payback for their loss to the defending title holders from Pacific Palisades? Stay tuned.
3. Los Angeles Sol
Manager Abner Rogers has two questions to address back at Victoria Street ahead of their final regular season contest with the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium.
* Who will replace Camille Abily, and
* Why has the defense lost its cohesiveness this late in the year?
Those are some mighty big questions after the Los Angeles Sol suffered a huge loss to the Chicago Red Stars, 3-1, at Bridgeview's Toyota Park.
In consolation, Han Duan proved she can still score goals with her 89th minute tally from captain Shannon Boxx.
But the loss of the French international to national team duty means that someone will need to fill a big void in the midfield. Who will have the composure and tenacity to score like Camille Abily, the rocker from Rennes?
And the defensive form has fallen apart for three straight matches. It's too early to hit the PANIC button, but the likes of Hubert Busby, Jr. and Neil Powell will be wise to sternly remind the team that the job's only half done.
If the Sol are to earn the WPS double, then losing the will to perform in their remaining matches is akin to the kiss of death.
Then again, their final match is against the only team that the Sol has not defeated. The lack of form can't last long if an opportunity to make history as the first team to beat all the other teams in the WPS awaits.
Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 9 at 6:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
4. Chicago Red Stars
Don't count out the Chicago Red Stars from becoming a force to be reckoned with in the WPS 2010 season.
That's what Emma Hayes's club reminded its loyal fans at Bridgeview's Toyota Park in their 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Sol.
Early in the first half, Carli Lloyd snapped out of her scoring funk to get her second goal of the season off a pass by Lindsay Tarpley.
Tarpley, herself, got on the score sheet with a 47th minute goal past Sol goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.
Cristiane, who will be counted on offensively next season for the Chicago, iced the match with a breakaway goal in the 92nd minute to make it 3-1 Red Stars.
Caroline Jonsson made six saves in the victory and would have earned a clean sheet if it were not for Han Duan's 89th minute goal.
With the future looking bright, and Emma Hayes safe for now as the manager/director of soccer operations, the Women of the Windy City will look to wrap up their season on a winning note in Fenton, Missouri's Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.
Kickofff against St. Louis Athletica is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.
5. Sky Blue FC
The ladies of Sky Blue FC must be counting their blessings.
With Boston and Washington failing to clinch berths over the past week, it opens the door for Natasha Kai and company to steal a First Round berth for themselves.
But the team must also be counting its curses.
What has already become a turbulent season for Sky Blue in terms of management got even worse with Kelly Lindsey resigning as manager.
In her place is team captain Christie Rampone, who makes history as the first player/manager of a WPS club.
Two crucial must-win games await the Jersey girls. And for Rampone, this is a trial by fire.
On Wednesday, Sky Blue will look to end its home campaign against FC Gold Pride at Joe Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Sky Blue will then end the regular season with a Saturday match with the Washington Freedom. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Maryland SoccerPlex at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Cam Rampone keep the season alive for Sky Blue FC? We'll find out soon.
6. FC Gold Pride
Like the Chicago Red Stars, Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride had nothing to lose in their match with the Washington Freedom at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Down 2-1 at the half, the Lionesses of the Bay rallied, roaring to a 3-2 victory.
Early in the first half, FC Gold Pride's Kim Yokers opened her account with an eighth-minute goal facilitated by Tina DiMartino and Christine Sinclair.
After Homare Sawa's brace gave Washington a 2-1 halftime lead, Tiffany Milbrett wasted little time in bringing the match on level terms with her 46th-minute equalizer.
Milbrett's goal was her fourth of the season.
The Brazilliance that has paced a good deal of the goals in the WPS came back in the clutch through the shiftiness and finishing touch of super sub Adriane dos Santos.
Adriane's 83rd minute goal gave the long-suffering home fans something to cheer about.
The Pride earned eight corner kicks for the match, while goalkeeper Allison Whitworth made five saves in earning the win.
The Lionesses of the Bay finish their 2009 season with matches against Sky Blue FC and St. Louis Athletica. The match with Sky Blue is a great opportunity to knock the Jersey girls out of the running.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 5 at Joe Yurcak Field.
The home finale for FC Gold Pride against St. Louis is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 9. Kickoff is slated for 8:00 p.m. PT.
7. Boston Breakers
Tony DiCicco must be tearing his hairs out at an inept performance by his Breakers the past week.
The week started with a trip to the Maryland SoccerPlex to face the Washington Freedom. When defender Alex Scott was sent off for a harsh tackle on the Freedom's Sonia Bompastor, it was a ominous sign of things to come.
Abby Wambach finally figured out the Breakers' defense with her 73rd minute goal to leave Boston looking blindly for the exits with a 1-0 loss.
In spite of six corners won, the Breakers were unable to figure out how to break past a tenacious penalty-box stand by Washington.
A tough week figured to get even tougher as Boston traveled to the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park to face St. Louis Athletica.
Amanda Cinalli and Eniola Aluko teamed up in the 36th minute to send Boston home with another 1-0 defeat. Breakers' goalkeeper Allison Lipsher made four saves in the loss.
With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Boston comes into Week 20 knowing that they must win at home to ensure that they will be in the first round.
And they come in knowing that they can capitalize on the lack of form from the Los Angeles Sol, whom they have not lost to.
Marta and company, however, don't figure to make things easy for home side, as they want to return back to form for their final match Aug. 22.
Can the Breakers complete the whitewash? Or will Los Angeles become the first WPS team to have defeated all its opponents at least once this season?
The answer will be revealed at Soldiers' Field, also known as Harvard Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET and will be covered by the ever-talented duo of Mark Rogandino and Jenn Hildreth of Fox Soccer Channel.
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