With the arrival of the new stadium for the Beat, we have this week's edition of the 2010 WPS Power Rankings. Back on top are FC Gold Pride, but who is making a move this week?
So let's get to it.
At the top of this week's rankings once again are the Lionesses of the East Bay, FC Gold Pride. Donning red uniforms, Albertin Montoya's club shut out the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 at the Castro Valley Athletic Stadium.
Tiffeny Milbrett earned her second goal of the season in first half stoppage time off a penalty kick. A pass by Marta to Kelley O'Hara saw Ifeoma Dieke sent off for fouling O'Hara inside the box as the last defender. Milbrett's spot kick was originally deflected but she would score on the rebound.
O'Hara would get her revenge in the second half, earning her first of the season thanks to Kimberley Yokers in the 79th minute. It nearly was a brace for O'Hara late in the 90th, but her volley hit the woodwork.
"We have some many good players on this team that there's goal coming from all over the field," O'Hara said after the match, "but it feels great to finally score and I'm just excited that we're undefeated at home and just got a 2-0 win over a really good team."
Montoya was also impressed by the form of the Lionesses of the Pride. "We've sorted out things defensively and we're creating a lot of chances," he said after the match. "The next step is being able to put teams away early because everyone's so talented in this league that anything can happen and fortunately things have gone our way so far.
"We deserved the win the way we've been playing, were getting better as the season goes on."
FC Gold Pride were relentless in flexing their home field advantage. They dished 19 shots compared to Chicago's four shots, with 10 of those shots on goal. The Pride also managed five corners compared to two for the Red Stars.
The Pride continue their season on the road with a May 14 match against the Boston Breakers at Cambridge's Harvard Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Jorge Barcellos' St. Louis Athletica got fresh wind in their sails with the return of Lindsay Tarpley.
After ACL surgery and a long recovery, Tarpley earned her first goal of the season in the 60th minute to give St. Louis a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Independence at Fenton's Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.
“It felt great to finish one, it was definitely a good feeling,” said Tarpley after the match. “It has been a long rehab and I feel really good. I feel strong and confident. The Saint Louis organization has been very patient in allowing me to fully recover.”
Athletica's Eniola Aluko was relieved to see one of her fellow teammates make a glorious return at the Brewery.
“It was really inspiring for me to see a player come back from having such an injury,” Aluko said on Tarpley.. “We have been working together in training all week, just trying to find our rhythm. I am just glad my striking partner scored and long may it continue.”
Athletica also earned a boost when Allison Falk scored an own goal in the 42nd minute. What would have been the first goal for Tarpley off an Aluko delivery inside the box found the Philly defender instead.
Overall, St. Louis tallied 15 shots against the Indies' eight, during the match.
Sky Blue FC takes on Athletica on Sunday, May 16. Kickoff at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET.
It was the Karen Bardsley Show at Atlanta Beat/KSU Stadium.
13 saves combined with a gift goal from Leigh Ann Robinson was all Pauliina Miettenen's Sky Blue FC needed in their 1-0 win.
"Karen was absolutely unbelievable tonight," Miettenen said on Bardsley. "She made so many amazing saves and really kept us in the match. As a team, it gives you a huge confidence boost when you know that you will get such a high level of play by your goalkeeper."
"One of my biggest goals is to stay focused for 90 minutes," Bardsley said on her effort. "Atlanta was really coming at us in the second half, and I knew that I would have to keep the switch turned on.
"Road wins are critical, and it's huge for you as a team when you can pick up three points on the road."
Another opportunity to pick up a road win takes place at the Brewery, where Sky Blue FC take on St. Louis Athletica. Kickoff at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton is scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Mother Nature threw the Washington Freedom a cruel curveball at the Maryland SoccerPlex against the Boston Breakers. With strong winds becoming the star of the show in Germantown, Jim Gabarra's side was forced to settle for a scoreless draw.
"[I'll] take the positive that we got a shutout and defended very well," Gabarra said after the match. "There were times in the first half where we strung some good passes together, and the last pass was a little too impatient. In this wind you're not going to be able to play balls over the top at all. We had our chances, but Boston is a very good defensive team."
Gabarra had a belief that Washington could manage the adverse weather through its depth. It wasn't the case.
"We have to realize that we had two starters taken out of the lineup," Gabarra added. "That's going to affect our rhythm. I think we're deep everywhere. It's a huge asset to have when you're missing players, players can step in and make the most of the opportunity."
"The wind was hard to read," Freedom captain Cat Whitehill said. "It was extremely hard to play the long ball. In the first half we had a good rhythm, but in the second half the wind hurt us."
"I think we have to give credit to Boston," said midfielder Sarah Huffman, "but with the wind, our passing was a little bit off."
Adding insult to injury, Abby Wambach collided with Breakers goalkeeper Ashley Phillips and had to be subbed due to epistaxis.
The Freedom will hope for calmer conditions as they travel next Sunday to Kennesaw to take on the Atlanta Beat. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
All good things must come to an end, and for Paul Riley's Philadelphia Independence, that was their unbeaten streak.
An Allison Falk goal late in the first half saw the wheels fall off for the Indies in their 2-1 defeat to St. Louis Athletica at Fenton's Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.
Lyndsey Patterson scored a consolation goal for the Indies in the 75th minute off an saving miscue by Athletica goalkeeper Hope Solo.
Philly will be licking their wounds as they continue their season on Saturday, May 12 against the Chicago Red Stars. Kickoff at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
Tony DiCicco's Boston Breakers stay at sixth in this week's WPS Power Rankings. In spite of nine shots managed for the Breakers, strong winds contributed to six offsides and boatloads of frustration in a scoreless draw with the Washington Freedom at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
Boston's best chance of the match came in the 93rd minute. Lauren Cheney weaved through two Washington defenders, but her shot only managed the side netting.
"I thought it was a pretty well played game under difficult conditions," DiCicco said after the match. "The wind was giving both teams trouble.
"Washington did well in the midfield, and I thought our defense did a great job not giving their strikers, particularly Abby (Wambach) any really open looks. A tie is probably the just result."
Captain Kristine Lilly thought it was a well deserved point, given the conditions. "Getting a point on the road is important for us," Lilly said after the contest. "Each team did good things.
"[The] Freedom closed quicker as a team this time around. We were able to find space with our outside backs. Both played hard and battled."
Boston will return to Soldiers' Field to take on the Lionesses of the East Bay, FC Gold Pride. Kickoff at Harvard Stadium is scheduled for Friday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Dropping to seventh are Emma Hayes's Red Stars, whose wheels fell off once Ifeoma Dieke was given her marching orders in a 2-0 defeat at the Castro Valley Athletic Stadium.
Jillian Loyden was valiant in the net, tallying seven saves in the defeat.
"Jillian had a fantastic game," Hayes said of her goalkeeper after the contest. "She was our player of the match. She had a great game and kept us in it."
Hayes, however, had every reason to say otherwise about the team as a whole. "I don't think we played well tonight," Hayes said on the performance. "It took us too long to get going, and they came out gunning at us. They dominated us in every way, and we were out-played."
The Red Stars had a golden chance to equalize in the 47th minute, with Ella Masar's chance dribbling into the hands of Nicole Barnhart.
Chicago will look to rebound at Toyota Park when they face the Philadelphia Independence on May 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
How do you let your opponent crash the party at your new stadium? For Gareth O'Sullivan's Atlanta Beat, it's simple: you let them.
A Leigh Ann Robinson own goal combined with the inability for Ramona Bachmann to get a shot past Karen Bardsley equaled a 1-0 defeat to open the new Beat/KSU Stadium in Kennessaw, Georgia.
25 shots, 15 shots on goal and 15 corner kicks will mean nothing if you cannot finish. For the Beat, they learned that the hard way.
Despite the inability to finish, Atlanta co-captain Kia McNeill saw the potential.
"The fan support tonight just speaks for itself," McNeill said. "The crowd automatically just gave us a high. We were playing for our fans. You can see the potential in this team."
The 8,300-seat, $16.5 million stadium was built as a partnership between Kennesaw State University and the Atlanta Beat and includes sideline, family section, on-field and suite level seating. It also accommodates up to 16,000 patrons as a concert venue and will host the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by the U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday, June 30.
O'Sullivan also saw an upside from his team's effort. "Their keeper had a great game and made a lot of saves," O'Sullivan said. "If we just keep creating opportunities like that, and keep playing like that, we will win a lot of games this year."
Next week, the Washington Freedom will be stopping the Owls' Nest to take on the Beat. Kickoff is scheduled for May 16, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
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