Well, we are now off and running with the 2009 Women's Professional Soccer season. We've been treated to some action, some goals, some skill, and some of the world's best on the field.
It is early, but I want to go ahead and deliver my first power rankings of the young season.
1. LOS ANGELES SOL
True, the Sol have had a jump on the rest of the competition with two games in as many weeks. But impressive victories over Washington and Sky Blue FC have kept the Sol at the top of my rankings.
Alison Falk's historic goal against the Freedom, combined with Marta headlining the show at TD Bank Park with a double, pace Los Angeles as one of three teams still unbeaten in the WPS. Camile Abily and Aya Miyama add another dimension to the Sol's attack.
LA will take the week off before taking on the team ranked below them. And that is...
2. FC GOLD PRIDE
This is a team that is on the rise. A gutsy 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers at Buck Shaw Stadium, on the campus of Santa Clara University, makes FC Gold Pride and their captain Tiffany Milbrett the biggest movers in second.
Milbrett scored the deciding goal before full time.
The keeping ability of Gold Pride netminder Nicole Barnhart will prove to be a test for Los Angeles's attack as they look to redeem themselves for their preseason defeats to the Sol on April 19.
3. CHICAGO RED STARS
The Red Stars hold firm in third place on the ratings. In their first match against St. Louis Athletica, Lindsay Tarpley crashed the house party with her goal in the 78th minute.
With Athletica dominating everything but the scoreline at Ralph Korte stadium, the Red Stars will face a strong test from a Washington Freedom team looking to get on the win column on April 11.
4. WASHINGTON FREEDOM
How did everything go wrong in the WPS Inaugural Game for Jim Gabarra and the Freedom? It's a simple answer: the Sol were THAT good. (Albeit they were a bit rusty themselves, but it's early in the season. You have to expect that.)
They dusted off the ambush at the Home Depot Center with a 2-0 win over Virginia Lady Cavaliers at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD on Sunday. With this results, Washington will be poised to make amends when they take on Chicago.
5. BOSTON BREAKERS
Kelly Smith's valiant performance was not enough in the Breakers' first game as a member of the WPS. Her equalizer in the 79th minute kept Boston in the match against FC Gold Pride before a poor clearance from keeper Kristen Luckinbill put Milbrett in position to steal three points away from the Breakers.
With manager Tony DiCicco asking for consistency, they plan to take their frustrations out on St. Louis Athletica at Harvard Stadium on April 11.
6. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA
In spite of Hope Solo in goal and St. Louis outperforming the Chicago Red Stars in shots and corners, they were hopeless (a bad pun, I admit) in moving the green and white Puma sphere over the line against Chicago.
A lack of sequence and fluidity against Red Stars keeper Caroline Jonsson were to blame.
“It was our first game. The goal we allowed shows you what happens at this level of play if you do not stay focused for 90 minutes,” said Athletica captain Lori Chalupny after the match. “Even if the outcome had been different tonight our goal remains to get better. You’ll see a completely different team at the end of the year.”
If Chalupny's predictions are to be spot-on, improvements will be in order starting with the Breakers.
7. SKY BLUE FC
Sky Blue is at the bottom of my rankings for a reason. First, Marta. Second, Marta. And third...Marta.
All right. There are other reasons besides those three, which are one and the same.
Katrina LeBlanc, who coaches with Rutgers as an assistant in the offseason, frustrated the home team and fans with key saves against Jen Buczkowski and Kacey White.
And to top it all off: Christie Rampone suffered a strained hamstring in the 27th minute.
One can only wonder if Sky Blue will take a rest from singing the blues when high-flying FC Gold Pride comes to TD Bank Ballpark on Saturday.