2010 WPS Championship: Five Reasons Why FC Gold Pride Will Win It
Last year, I covered the now-defunct Los Angeles Sol of Women's Professional Soccer, a side that had Marta, Camille Abily, and Shannon Boxx, among others. Those same three players are now with FC Gold Pride, and when you throw those three with a competent goalkeeper in Nicole Barnhart and reliability of Christine Sinclair, you know you have a special team.
I am going to lay the hammer down and call it here on the WPS Fan Corner, the View from Victoria Street, and Bleacher Report: Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride WILL WIN the 2010 WPS Championship. I repeat: Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride will win the 2010 WPS Championship.
There will be no meltdown, there will be no letdown. Heck, there will be no Sky Blue FC crashing the party—er, defending their trophy. It will be just another victory for the Lionesses of the East Bay, who now have an obligation to live up to their form in the regular season that got them hosting the final game of the WPS postseason.
I have here five reasons why they will put on a great show for their fans at Pioneer Stadium, on the campus of California State University, East Bay, come the morning of September 26, 2010.
1. Marta, Marta, Marta
I don't think I need to stress this any further. The importance of having the best women's player in the world on your team has proven to be a valuable asset to the hopes of the Pride.
With her 19 goals—a new WPS regular season record—the presumptive Michelle Akers Player of the Year has enthralled fans with her ball movement, clinical passing, and textbook finishing—whether outside the box, inside the box, or from distance. Expect a solid curtain call for the Brazilian international.
Of course, this isn't doing any justice to the other players on FC Gold Pride, but they should be given their props as well.
2. A Supporting Cast To Die for
Christine Sinclair has been Marta's right-hand man this season, with 10 goals and nine assists. When Marta and Sinclair work hand in hand, you just know that big things will happen offensively.
Let's not forget the importance of a certain veteran and a certain rookie. Those certain individuals are Tiffeny Milbrett and Kelley O'Hara, respectively, and each of them have chipped in with six goals this season.
Now it will be interesting to see if O'Hara will be able to heal in time from her quad injury sustained against the Philadelphia Independence on September 11. If not, look for other players to step up, including Boxx, Abily, and Kiki Bosio.
3. You're in Good Hands with Barnhart
A great defense is not a great defense without a great goalkeeper. Actually, a great goalkeeper makes a great defense an extraordinary defense.
FC Gold Pride may have one in Nicole Barnhart. Between the pipes, Barnhart has made 73 saves against just 16 goals allowed for a 0.77 goals against average and a 13-3-5 record to go with eight shutouts.
Barnhart has been a major complement to one of the stingiest backlines in the league, composed of Becky Edwards, Ali Riley, Rachel Buehler, and Candace Chapman.
4. A Sage Tactician in "Don Albertin" Montoya
While there will be a case to give Paul Riley WPS Coach of the Year honors, the same can be said of Albertin Montoya. Here is a manager who was able to guide a team from worst to first. From a 4-10-6 (18 points) record to a 16-3-5 (53 points) record...now that's extraordinary.
Watch for the Montoya magic to chart its course on September 26 in the East Bay
5. The Redemption Factor
Last year's 1-0 defeat by the Sol to Sky Blue FC has left a very bitter taste in Marta's mouth. It left a very bitter taste in Abily's mouth. It left a very bitter taste in Boxx's mouth. It left a very bitter taste in Bosio's mouth. And it left a very bitter taste in Brittany Cameron's mouth.
On September 26, these five players get a chance to wash it all away. This prognosticator hopes that it will be the Washington Freedom that the Pride will face (a little first- versus fourth-seed, take two), but I will leave it to the football goddesses to determine who the opponents will be.
But regardless of who the team is, I have reason to believe that redemption will be obtained at Pioneer Stadium, and the trophy that escaped the hands of Marta will escape no longer when all is said and done.
This WPS Championship belongs to FC Gold Pride. I'm calling it right here, right now.
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