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2010 WPS Power Rankings: Week Six

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IMay 17, 2010

In this week's Women's Professional Soccer Power Rankings, FC Gold Pride keep their top spot while the Atlanta Beat remain at the bottom. But what about the other teams?

Good question. Let's see how all eight teams stand after week six.

1. FC GOLD PRIDE

The Lionesses of the East Bay are first in the Power Rankings for another week.

Albertin Montoya's FC Gold Pride defeated the Boston Breakers 2-1 at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge and it was Marta who paced the Pride with a brace.

In the 15th minute, Marta earned her second goal of the season, thanks to Tiffany Milbrett's delivery. After the Breakers equalized, Norway's Solveig Gulbrandsen sent the ball past Boston's Alex Scott, allowing the Brazilian franchise player to chalk up her third score of the campaign.

"This was a difficult game on the road because we played a very tough team in front of a great home crowd, we were fortunate enough to put two goals away," Montoya said after the match.  "They came at us hard and scored a tying goal, but our defense was excellent in the second half and prevented them from getting another one."

Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made six saves to lead the Pride's staunch defense.

Next up for the Lionesses of the East Bay is a trip on Saturday, May 29th, to face the Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.

2. PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE


Paul Riley's Philadelphia Independence are second in this week's power rankings following their 1-0 win over Chicago Red Stars.

Joanna Lohman opened her scoring account six minutes into the contest, as Amy Rodriguez's pass found Lohman in the center of the six-yard box.

Chicago goalkeeper Jillian Loyden was helpless in trying to stop the finishing touch to the only goal of the match.

"We've been talking about deep runs [in practice]," Riley said after the match, "and we knew Chicago played a little flat in the back. And we figured we maybe could get beyond them and get the midfielders beyond them, and [Joanna] Lohman obviously made a great run."

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"Chicago is a very talented team, so to get a result on the road here is a big win for us. I think it's the first away win in franchise history, so for us it was a big one."

Riley's remarks may be a bit flattering for a floundering Chicago side lingering near the bottom of the table. The Indies manager was, indeed, paying attention to the new developments on WomensProSoccer.com. Good on ya, sir.

Philly will take on the Washington Freedom at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Sunday, May 30th. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. The match-up will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

3. WASHINGTON FREEDOM

Jim Gabarra's Washington Freedom may be lingering in the middle of the WPS standings, but they rose to third in the power rankings after their 2-0 road victory over the Atlanta Beat on Sunday. It was the Freedom's first road win of the season.

Sonia Bompastor had to be stitched after colliding with Atlanta's McCall Zerboni early in the second half. But Bompastor was able to play the rest of the match after her head was bandaged up.

Despite the collision, Washington got on the board in the 28th minute. Norwegian international Lene Mykjåland was the beneficiary of a back-heel pass from Abby Wambach to earn her second of the year.

Bompastor gave Wambach her second of the season in the 63rd minute. A cross from the French international saw Wambach score off a diving header.

It was a tough week for Wambach. She underwent surgery during training to fix a broken nose. In the end, the protective mask did more to aggravate the injury than alleviate it.

"This week has not been the easiest of weeks," Wambach said after the match. "Yesterday during training, somebody hit the side of my face which made my nose move so I feel as though sometimes the mask can be protective but the way I play it was counter productive because if you hit the mask at all, it shifts. That can do more damage than anything so I was more comfortable without the mask."

So that explains it. Mark Rogandino and Jenn Hildreth, are you taking notes on this? I hope you are.

Freedom goalkeeper Erin McLeod made seven saves to pace Washington. "After [the] last game we got to know what a shut out feels like and I was extremely proud," McLeod said after the match.  "It was a team effort."

"It was a hard fought game," said Gabarra on his team's performance. "We've got to do a little bit better job at possessing the ball and making them chase. They continued and unfortunately for them they were struggling to get a goal."

"Credit to our team that we worked hard and battled and tried to posses the ball. We could have done a little bit better but took the chances that we had pretty well."

Expect more of the same and maybe a little bit extra from Washington as they face the Philadelphia Independence on Sunday, May 30th. Kickoff at the Maryland SoccerPlex is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET.



4. ST. LOUIS ATHLETICA

Jorge Barcellos's St. Louis Athletica move down to fourth in this week's Power Rankings  after clawing back from a goal behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Sky Blue FC at Fenton's Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park.

St. Louis got on the board first on a Shannon Boxx penalty. Yael Avebuch fouled Brazilian defender Elaine inside the box, forcing match referee Margaret Domka to point to the spot.

Boxx wasted no time in converting the spot kick nine minutes into the match, and in the process open her scoring account for the season.

After Sky Blue FC regained the lead in the 62nd minute, Eniola Aluko equalized in the 88th minute off the delivery by Boxx to earn her fourth of the match.

Athletica were relentless in challenging Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, tallying 18 shots, seven of which were on goal.

A number of offensive opportunities were wasted, however, due to St. Louis committing seven offsides compared to Sky Blue FC's three.

Athletica will look to pick up another W against a struggling Atlanta Beat side at the Beat/KSU Stadium in Kennesaw. Kickoff at the owls' Nest is scheduled for Saturday, May 29th at 7:00 p.m. ET.

5. SKY BLUE FC

Pauliina Miettenen's Sky Blue FC have to feel quite bitter after St. Louis Athletica consigned her club to a 2-2 draw, and a point split, at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo.

However, Finnish international Laura Kalmari had a sensational outing, scoring a brace at the Brewery. The Ladies of the Raritan equalized in the 58th minute, with Kiersten Dallstream's cross finding Kalmari, who headed her second goal of the season.

Just four minutes later, she was was on the score sheet again. A pass from Heather O'Reilly (and a slip-up by Athletica defender Tina Ellertson) found an unmarked Kalmari, who slotted her third of the season.

Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley paced Sky Blue FC with five saves. The physical play by Sky Blue FC was apparent in the 12 fouls they committed, compared to St. Louis's six. Sky Blue FC also had a great deal of chances off the set piece, with 11 corners.

Their next match is against the Boston Breakers at Joe Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University. Kickoff in Piscataway, N.J. is scheduled for Saturday, May 29th at 7:00 p.m. ET.

6. BOSTON BREAKERS

Tony DiCicco didn't hide his frustration on Friday. His Boston Breakers were the latest to fall to FC Gold Pride, 2-1, at Harvard Stadium.

"I’m frustrated because we’re not scoring," DiCicco said after the match. "We’re playing some attacking soccer, but it’s one goal in three games. You’re not going to be able to get points in this league scoring one goal in three games."

"We broke down their defense pretty good, but we just didn’t finish them off."

All Boston could do was equalize in the 22nd minute, with Kelly Smith earning her third of the year, off the delivery by Lauren Cheney.

But once Marta reclaimed the lead for the Pride, the Breakers were unable to get back in their match, with blown chances in the 50th and 71st minutes.

“It’s hard to neutralize Marta,” DiCicco said of the Brazilian.  “We said we have to be good getting in behind, so we double-teamed her on the flanks, and unfortunately, she got in behind us twice and beat us there.”

Boston had 13 shots compared to FC Gold Pride's eight, but had twice as many offsides (six to three).

"We're building," Breakers co-captain and midfielder Leslie Osborne said. "We're figuring it out and we're coming together. We know the last piece that's going to fall in place is scoring those goals and finishing those chances."

Osborne also echoed DiCicco's comments about Marta being, well...just Marta, I suppose.

"Marta is just a world-class player," Osborne said. "So as a whole, I thought our team played very well together and you know, we've got to clean up and not let Marta have those opportunities."

The Boston Breakers travel south to Joe Yurcak Field at Rutgers University to take on Sky Blue FC on Saturday, May 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.



7. CHICAGO RED STARS

While the season may still be young, Emma Hayes' Chicago Red Stars have been pushing the panic button early. At least, that's what the Red Stars manager noticed after her side lost 1-0 to the Philadelphia Independence at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

"We go behind and then we panic," Hayes said after the match. "and rather than just settle into the game, we want to take it in our own hands individually. And it's become a stress for the team because it hasn't put goals in."

Red Stars defender Marian Dalmy put on a brave face after watching Chicago falter yet again. "I think everyone is somewhat frustrated," Dalmy said. "but I think this is the time where it tests our character a lot."

"I can speak for every person on this team that we will keep fighting, and no matter what it takes we will find it."

Chicago chalked up 12 shots compared to the Indies' seven and had twice as many corners (six to three), but chances for Casey Nogueira in the 40th minute and Kosovare Ailani in the 70th minute missed wide.

"This team has been better than it was tonight," Hayes added. "I don't think we can sit here and say this team dominated the game or deserved a great deal more because I don't think we were good enough. And that's my responsibility to figure out the ways to put the team in that position and make sure we're strong for Gold Pride [on May 29]."

Kickoff for that match in Bridgeview is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.

8. ATLANTA BEAT

The home confines of Atlanta Beat/KSU Stadium haven't been friendly as of yet for Gareth O'Sullivan's club.

The Beat are in the cellar yet again after their most recent setback: a 2-0 loss to the Washington Freedom.

None of Atlanta's 21 shots, or eight corner opportunities, could elude Washington's defense, or goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The frustration mounted for the Beat as they tallied seven fouls.

“We’re still struggling from the final pass, to the final touch, to the final cross,” O'Sullivan said on the match.  “It’s all about putting the ball in the net and we have been struggling to do that. We know that we’re going to give goals to top teams, but we have to score goals. We played a good game, but a lot of the shots we took were rushed.”

Can Atlanta snap out of their winless streak against St. Louis Athletica? Can Atlanta snap out of their winless streak, period? Those are the big, million-dollar questions on Beat fans' minds.

Kickoff at the Owls' Nest is scheduled for Saturday, May 29, at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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