2010 WPS Power Rankings: Week 4

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2010 WPS Power Rankings: Week 4

Mayday! Mayday! FC Gold Pride have solidified their position as the top team in this week's WPS Power Rankings with their 1-0 victory over Sky Blue FC. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Beat slink back to the bottom of the rankings after remaining winless. Let's get to the week's rankings, right about...now.

1. FC GOLD PRIDE

Reclaiming the top spot in this week's WPS Power Rankings are Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride. After running the tables in their 3-1 victory over Sky Blue FC on April 17 at the Castro Valley Athletic Stadium, Gold Pride reprised their efforts in a 1-0 shutout at Joe Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. But it wasn't Marta that was the heroine for the Lionesses of the East Bay. It was Christine Sinclair. Her third goal of the season came in the 38th minute thanks to Carrie Dew's well-timed setup. Interestingly enough, the score would have been 2-0 had it not been for Camille Abily squandering her penalty kick and Marta's rebound getting saved by Sky Blue FC keeper Karen Bardsley. Nonetheless, the Pride were on the prowl, peppering the net with 12 shots, nine of which were on goal. Their physical play also drew the ire of referee Stephanie Toth, who issued cautions to Beck Edwards in the 26th minute and Kelley O'Hara in the 84th. “This was a good win for us,” said Sinclair on the victory. “Getting the shutout was huge. As a forward, it’s always nice to score, but most of the credit for our win today should go to our defense for holding off a tough Sky Blue attack.” Montoya echoed the Canadian international's thoughts on the proceedings. “I thought it was a great performance, we gutted it out and found a way to win," Montoya said. "We were outstanding at creating chances and being defensively organized. "It was one of the best first halves of soccer I've ever seen this team play." You can guarantee that there will be more to come from FC Gold Pride, who lead the Philadelphia Independence at the top of the table with nine points and a 3-1 record. And Montoya wasted no time in proclaiming so. "We just want to focus on getting better as a team in order to win a championship," Montoya said. "This team has shown tremendous talent, and I believe we have the potential to win it all. "To do this, we need to continue improving week-to-week because at the same time every other team will be improving too." FC Gold Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made five saves on Saturday against Sky Blue FC. Next week, the Lionesses of the East Bay have a chance to do just that. They return to the Castro Valley Athletic Stadium for a May 8 contest with the Chicago Red Stars. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.

2. WASHINGTON FREEDOM

After a subpar performance last week, Jim Gabarra's Washington Freedom move up to second in this week's WPS Power Rankings. At RFK Stadium, the home of D.C. United, the Freedom put St. Louis Athletica to the sword by the score of 3-1. Sonia Bompastor was instrumental in delivering a badly-needed victory for Washington. In the 19th minute, the Freedom's Abby Wambach's touch pass found the French international to open her scoring account. In the second half, Bompastor was at it again. Her corner in the 47th minute found Japan's Homare Sawa, who scored her second of the year. Washington never looked back. Just for good measure, second-half substitute Lene Mykjaland made Athletica goalkeeper Hope Solo pay for going off her line to score her first-ever WPS goal in the 74th minute. "At the end of the day, getting three points against Hope Solo, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, is a great day for Washington Freedom," said Wambach after the match. "It was a pretty solid performance," said a relieved Gabarra after the match. "We fought, we battled, and we focused." "It was a great game because we had a lot of intensity, and we scored three goals," said Bompastor on the win. "I think that both teams played well and played with a lot of heart." Returning to the line-up was goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who made six saves to pace the Freedom. "The last few games our heart and our desire and our work ethic wasn't strong enough, but I think that last scramble was a tremendous example of those three things coming together," said McLeod on the Freedom's defense in the closing stages of the match. Defender Nikki Marshall showed what she could do, stopping a loose ball out of Washington's penalty box and effectively ending any hopes for St. Louis to claw back. The Washington Freedom still have some ground to cover as they chase Philadelphia and FC Gold Pride. Next week, they host the Boston Breakers on Saturday, May 8 at Germantown's Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

3. PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE

Paul Riley's Philadelphia Independence are third in this week's Power Rankings. After a scoreless draw with the Atlanta Beat, they bounced back with a 1-0 win over their fellow expansion side at John A. Farrell Stadium in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Now everyone should know that there is a reason why Lori Lindsey was named WPS Player of the Month. She is a player that steps up in the clutch. Right now, Lindsey is the reason why Philadelphia don't look like they are going through their inaugural year. This might as well be Year Two for them! Lindsey's goal in the 23rd minute came off a free kick by Holmfridur Magnusdottir and an assist by Allison Falk. Offensively, the Indies were out to get more than one past Atlanta second-string goalkeeper Val Henderson, with seven of their 10 shots on goal. Indies goalkeeper Val Henderson was never tested, save for a stop in the 79th minute, but the defensive backline of Philly frustrated the Beat attack for a majority of the contest. Four matches without a defeat, the Philadelphia Independence begin a grueling road campaign, starting with a trip to the Brewery in Fenton to face St. Louis Athletica. Kickoff at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park is scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at 8:10 p.m. ET.

4. SKY BLUE FC

Pauliina Miettenen's Sky Blue FC are off to a bit of a shaky start and are fourth in this week's Power Rankings. The misery against FC Gold Pride continued, when they dropped a 1-0 decision at Joe Yurcak Field. It was the defending WPS champions that were on the defensive. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made eight saves, including a key stop on a Camille Abily penalty and Marta follow-up. "For some reason, I just knew [Abily] was going to go to my left," Bardsley said on the spot kick. "I don't know how I knew, but I had a very strong feeling about it. Luckily, my instincts were right on that shot." "We created many good chances in the second half, and I think it was the best second half effort that we've had all season," Miettenen said on the defeat. "They put the ball over our heads many times when we played two weeks ago, and I think we were able to avoid that for the most part tonight." Though it will go on Miettenen's record as an improvement from the last meeting, a loss to the Pride is still a loss to the Pride. Sky Blue FC will look to lick their own wounds when they face the Atlanta Beat to open the new stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, May 9 at 7 p.m. ET and will be covered by Fox Soccer Channel.

5. CHICAGO RED STARS

Emma Hayes's Chicago Red Stars move up to fifth in this week's Power Rankings after their 2-0 victory over the Boston Breakers at Cambridge's Harvard Stadium. "I think for the team, they really needed the result tonight," said a relieved Hayes. "It was a great team performance all around, and the result was fully deserved." And rightfully so. Casey Nogueira made her first-ever start for Chicago and got her second goal of the season thanks to a Karen Carney cross in the 63rd minute. Cristiane, after three matches of frustration with her inability to finish, got her first of the year off a Megan Rapinoe delivery in the 69th to make it 2-0. Cristiane led the Red Stars last season with seven goals and will be looked on to provide more firepower to fuel Chicago's resurgence. Hayes, however, knows the importance of what Nogueira brings to the table. "She has two goals already this season, she scored a goal tonight, and it justified her selection," Hayes said after the match. "That's the expectation we have from her, to create and score, and she did that. She played a wonderful game." "I think the goal gave us confidence and kind of put Boston on their heels a bit as a goal does to any team," said Nogueira after the match. "I think we took advantage of it, and Cristiane scored a few minutes later, and that gave us even more confidence, and I think it was great for our team to get the win. We really needed it. "I have had to work really hard in practice and working on a lot of finishing and a lot of little tactical things. Emma has really helped me with things as have my teammates, and I think it is all starting to come together for me." Chicago out-shot Boston 15 to 12, with eight of those shots on target. The physical play of Chicago was not lost on referee Jennifer Bennett, who issued a caution to Rapinoe in the 32nd minute. The Red Stars conceded 14 fouls compared to Boston's eight. With fresh wind at their sails, the Women of the Windy City will look to consolidate their points and make their move. Next week, they face an in-form FC Gold Pride team on Saturday, May 8. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.

6. BOSTON BREAKERS

It's clearly too early to panic if you're Tony DiCicco, and the Boston Breakers have managed just five points out of a possible 12. But after dropping their first loss of the season—a 2-0 shutout to the Chicago Red Stars—you have to wonder, what's going on? "We struggled with possession," DiCicco said after the match "At times it was very good, and then at times it was bad. I think that players felt pressure and gave the ball away. I mean we see it with Barcelona, right? Barcelona looks like they can keep a ball in the phone booth, and then next game they can’t keep the ball, so it’s the nature of the game of soccer." News flash, DiCicco: comparing the Red Stars to Inter Milan is comparing apples to fruits that aren't apples. But the Breakers' manager had a point regarding possession: they gave the ball away, again and again, as if Christmas had arrived. And even if this had been played on the Southern Hemisphere, it's not Christmas just yet. "We kept on giving the ball away, and they took advantage of it," DiCicco added on the defeat. "I think they worked really hard, and they made us make mistakes, and it’s a game where we make our chances it’s a different game, but they made their chances, give them credit." Perhaps the only good thing that happened for Boston (aside from Ashley Phillips' five saves) was former Breakers and US Women's National Team member Angela Hucles inducted into the Pillars of Excellence. Other than that, the Breakers were far from excellent against Chicago. Boston will look to break their dry spell in Germantown, when they face off against the Washington Freedom. Kickoff at the Maryland SoccerPlex is scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at 7 p.m. ET.

7. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA

Jorge Barcellos's St. Louis Athletica drop to seventh in the WPS Power Rankings this week. It was hell on earth for St. Louis, as they were blown apart 3-1 by the Washington Freedom at RFK Stadium on Saturday. Eniola Aluko made the score 1-1 off the delivery by Lori Chalupny, but that was far as Athletica would go, as Washington proved too strong to handle. In spite of having a terrible outing, Athletica goalkeeper Hope Solo made five saves. St. Louis will slink back to the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri in the hopes of getting back on the winning track against the Philadelphia Independence. Kickoff at the Brewery is scheduled for Saturday, May 8 at 8:10 p.m. ET.

8. ATLANTA BEAT

Gareth O'Sullivan's Atlanta Beat are back in the cellar of this week's Power Rankings with their 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Independence at John A. Farrell Stadium in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Goalkeeper Brett Maron filled in nicely for the Beat. She made six saves in spite of the losing effort. For O'Sullivan, the move to KSU Stadium on the campus of Kennesaw State University couldn't come any sooner. "We’re looking forward to getting in our home stadium," O'Sullivan said after the match. "It’ll be good for us to get on a regular schedule and get into a rhythm as a team. We’re not used to playing on turf, but that’s not an excuse. It’ll be good for the team to be on grass and in front of a home crowd." Of course, it's the defending WPS Champions that will be saying hello next week. Kickoff between Atlanta and Sky Blue FC is scheduled for Sunday, May 9 at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

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