T-60 minutes to kickoff: At the friendly confines of Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University, the New York/New Jersey Sky Blue Football Club (otherwise known as Sky Blue FC) adds a star above its shield...and a trophy to defend.
Pauliina Miettenen's Ladies of the Raritan take on a Chicago Red Stars side looking to bounce back from a difficult inaugural year.
Sky Blue FC returns the bulk of its roster for the 2010 season. As with last year, the club is led by forward Natasha Kai, midfielders Carli Lloyd and Rosana and defender Keeley Dowling.
SKY BLUE FC
Manager: Pauliina Miettenen
Formation: 4-4-2 Diamond
Colors: Orange tops and shorts and white socks
1 Karen Bardsley
17 Keeley Dowling ---- 4 Daphne Koster ---- 14 Brittany Taylor ---- 7 Meghan Schnur
9 Heather O'Reilly ---- 10 Carli Lloyd ---- 13 Yael Averbuch ---- 8 Kacey White
21 Laura Kalmari ---- 6 Natasha Kai
2 Kiersten Dallstream
22 Katie Schoepfer
15 Danielle Johnson
16 Megan Snell
18 Ashley Thompson
12 Jessica Landstrom
Kalmari, an accomplished import from Finland, is expected to get plenty of touches today.
CHICAGO RED STARS
Manager: Emma Hayes
Colors: White tops with Chicago insignia, light blue shorts, white socks
1 Jillian Loyden
2 Marian Dalmy ---- 15 Kate Markgraf ---- 4 Ifemoma Dieke ---- 9 Whitney Engen
10 Kosovare Asllani ---- 17 Katie Chapman ---- 6 Brittany Klein ---- 38 Julianne Sitch
3 Ella Masar ---- 11 Cristiane
14 Karen Carney
13 Natalie Spilger
27 Casey Nogueira
22 Jessica McDonald
18 Kelsey Davis
FIRST HALF START: 3:05 p.m.
1'—We are underway. Typing up the lineups as we speak, so there will be not as much commentary early.
6'—GOAL! Sky Blue FC 6 Natasha Kai Assist 10 Carli Lloyd
Excellent run off the offside trap, and a great pass by Lloyd to make it 1-0. I haven't even complete typing the lineups yet, and already we have our first goal.
9'—Chicago will be on their heels for the rest of this game.
13'—As I said, there has not been much commentary from me on the match until now because of filling out the rosters and also commenting on MLS matters. I have had to deal with issues regarding frosted windows on my OS. You figure it out. Here's Megan Schnur, but that pass for her was too strong. Goal kick. Offsides on Natasha Kai.
14'—A shot for Cristiane goes wide left. Sky Blue threw the gauntlet, Chicago picks it up.
15'—Lloyd snatches that up. Transition for Chicago never got started. The official today is Ted Unkel.
17'—Bardsley saved that corner. Here comes Sky Blue FC. The Red Stars defense holds in their third.
19'—Shot for Averbuch goes high and over for a goal kick.
20'—Cristiane is marked by Daphne Koster.
21'—Loyden never troubled on that offensive stanza. I'm looking at this match, and both sides need to pick up the pace.
24'—Kai looks a bit shaken up right now.
25'—Chicago has had their chances. Here's another: their fifth corner of the match.
Bardsley hasn't been tested, and offsides has been given. Goal kick.
28'—Sky Blue continues to push for a second.
29'—I haven't paid much attention to the twittering going on. Loyden takes that easily.
31'—Sky Blue picks up the pace. Dalmy clears that one.
32'—Here come the Red Stars. They haven't been able to do anything right now offensively. It's been painful.
34'—One more corner for Chicago. One more clearance for the home side.
35'—Excellent work from Engen to mark O'Reilly.
36'—A chance for Carli Lloyd to facilitate goes awry.
38'—This is what makes Karen Bardsley a solid goalkeeper in the WPS: she knows the tendencies of those who take corners.
39'—Sitch's chance goes wide.
43'—Here comes Chicago's Kosovare Asllani. Her free kick goes wide, and there will be no stoppage time.
45'—First half ends, and the score:
Sky Blue FC 1
Natasha Kai 6'
Chicago Red Stars 0
SECOND HALF START: 4:07 P.M.
46'—Sky Blue FC begins the proceedings for this half.
47'—Chapman clears a Sky Blue volley that hits side netting, but it's a corner. Too high an attempt by Cristiane.
50'—Sky Blue FC continues to press for a second.
52'—Here's Cristiane, but Heather O'Reilly marks her.
53'—Ella Masar's attempt to tap one home is stopped. I wonder if Miettenen's ladies will be content to finish one goal up; Chicago has been pushing for an equalizer.
57'—Cristiane still hasn't found her touch. She didn't have this problem as player for Santos.
59'—Here's O'Reilly with another volley inside the box. Loyden takes it.
62'—Emma Hayes asks for her team to crank up the pace. They haven't had their way against Sky Blue FC for the bulk of their hi
63'—Collision inside the box results in a goal kick for Loyden.
64'—Substition Chicago Red Stars
IN 14 Karen Carney
OUT 38 Julianne Sitch
Substitution Sky Blue FC
IN 11 Rosana
OUT 13 Yael Averbuch
68'—Chicago hasn't been rolling. They have been flat this match.
71'—The Sky Blue fans were looking for a point to the spot by Unkel for the challenge on Rosana. Wide shot by Cristiane.
72'—Substition Sky Blue FC
IN 12 Jessica Landstrom
OUT 6 Natasha Kai
73'—By the way, I reserve my right to keep Kai's first name as is. That would be like calling Richard Hamilton "Rip Hamilton" for the long haul.
74'—Chicago has to be frustrated by their inability to finish in the attacking third, and rightfully so. The home fans with their thunderstix don't mind. Good turnout for this one.
76'—Landstrom had a chance saved by Loyden.
77'—Substitution Chicago Red Stars
IN 27 Casey Nogueira
OUT 3 Ella Masar
Can Nogueira get the equalizer that has been eluding Chicago tonight?
79'—Free kick for the Red Stars for Nogueira, but that doesn't amount to much.
80'—Here's Cristiane again, but Koster is there.
81'—Another save by Loyden. Boy, hasn't she been in a rhythm.
82'—Unkel again fails to point to the spot. Good stop by Bardsley.
83'—A high shot by Cristiane. This has been a problem for the Brazilian last season.
84'—Sky Blue FC feels like the match with the now folded Los Angeles Sol was last week. Dowling walking with a limp.
85'—Substitution Chicago Red Stars
IN 22 Jessica McDonald
OUT 9 Whitney Engen
87'—Bardsley going off her line for that save. She's had to manage the night, and she is doing her job well.
88'—Here comes Sky Blue FC. Volley punched away by Loyden, and the Red Stars go in transition.
89'—Asllani can't believe her bad luck.
90' + 1'—Landstrom couldn't connect onthe header. Two minutes of stoppage time.
90' + 2'—And that's a wrap.
SKY BLUE FC 1
Natasha Kai 6'
CHICAGO RED STARS 0
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