Tag Archive | "FC Gold Pride"

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WPS: Sky Blue FC, FC Gold Pride draw on stoppage time strike

Posted on 02 September 2010 by Breton Bonnette

In Women’s Professional Soccer, parity is often the name of the game, and things were no different on Wednesday night at Yurcak Field in New Jersey. FC Gold Pride came to the Garden State to take on Sky Blue FC in the final regular season edition of “The Battle of Teams That Choose to Not Identify Geographically”. Continue Reading

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FC Gold Pride Receive Scoreless Draw Against the Chicago Red Stars

Posted on 08 August 2010 by asu

Whether it was because the FC Gold Pride was still recovering from last weekend’s away game or because the Chicago Red Stars employed an effective strategy of shutting down the Pride’s offensive plays, the game that could have guaranteed the Pride the right to host a WPS playoff game turned out to be anticlimactic. Playing to a 0-0 draw, the Pride will have to wait until next weekend’s game against the Washington Freedom to once again try to secure the Championship berth.

The first half started with an aggressive Red Stars team immediately putting pressure on the Pride defense. The Pride tried to counter with their own offensive attacks but both teams had an exceptionally hard time setting up and executing set plays, often losing the ball in the final third. Even when the Pride went down a player (defender Candace Chapman – foot injury) for several minutes starting in the 19th minute, the Red Stars were not able to capitalize on the opportunity before Chapman returned onto the field. Most of the play occurred in the midfield, with neither team really challenging the opposing goalkeeper. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe led the attack for the Red Stars and continued to test the strength of the Pride back line, with mixed results. Though Rapinoe was able push Pride players off the ball and generally win possession, most of the offensive runs she made were done solo, forcing her to take shots from nearly 30 yards out.

The Pride’s offensive sparked once in the first half. In the 40th minute, Pride midfielder Tiffeny Milbrett crossed a ball to Kelley O’Hara, who headed the ball with force towards the Red Star’s goal. Red Star’s goalkeeper Jill Loyden was able to block the shot, but the ball ended up dropping mere feet in front of the goal. As no Pride player was trailing the play, a Red Star defender was able to stand over the ball until Loyden picked it up again to clear it from dangerous territory.

Things got better for the Pride in the second half, but only slightly. Both teams continued to have bad first touches and the aggressive play increased. Pride defender Kandace Wilson received a caution in the 62nd minute for a dangerous collision with Cristiane. A caution initially issued to O’Hara in the 89th minute was called back after the referee consulted with the linesman; it was apparent that O’Hara and Red Stars defender Natalie Spilger mutually went to battle for possession. The second half also saw the best Red Star offensive chance. In the 63rd minute, forward Casey Nogueira took a free kick that, though blocked by Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, dropped directly in front of the Pride goal. But like the Pride opportunity in the first half, the chance to score was squandered by the lack of a trailing attack.

Pride forwardChristine Sinclair continued her relentless runs throughout the game, often playing a defensive position and then running forward to join in the attack. It appeared that her hard work was rewarded in the 81st minute when she received a header from Shannon Boxx and then hit a perfect ball over the head of Red Star’s goaltender, Jill Loyden. The referee nullified the goal; however, and instead, a foul was called on Boxx for rough play.

The scoreless match was a testament to the strength of the defensive lines of both teams. Red Stars coach Omid Namazi acknowledged that his team set out to stop Sinclair and Marta and felt that they succeeded as neither Pride forward was able to “get much going throughout the game.” Feeling that his team was “certainly the better team” in the first half with regard to possession and control of ball, Namazi “couldn’t be more pleased” but conceded his team lacked in “creating enough chances,” which was something that was the Red Star’s “Achilles heel” this season.

Pride coach Albertin Montoya was not concerned about the pressure from opposing teams because those teams are “counting on the counter-attack and as long as we keep putting points on the table, which we have been, it’s good for us.” Montoya also praised his back line, stating, “Our defense is outstanding and they keep us in games.” With regard to the goal that was called back, Montoya commented that though it was “very frustrating,” the referee “was [positioned] much closer” to the play.

The Pride get another chance to grab the WPS playoff hosting position when they take on the Washington Freedom next Saturday, August 14, 2010, in Hayward, California.

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Fun, Flair on Display as Marta XI Wins 2010 WPS All-Star Game

Posted on 03 July 2010 by lbarker

As the world focuses on the World Cup in South Africa and takes in every match in crisp, clean high definition, it’s easy to forget summer days playing in the park.  As the debates rage on about referees and instant replay and goal-line technology, it’s easy to forget games with garbage cans as goalposts.  As fans fill stadiums and complain about (or embrace?) the vuvuzela and as players complain about (or embrace?) the Jabulani, it’s easy to forget middle-of-the-street games stopped not by a referee’s whistle, but by the simpler sound of someone yelling “car!”  On Wednesday night as the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer All-Star Game took place, it was about remembering.  This year’s game came to KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, GA with a very unique format and a very simple goal; a return to the playground, schoolyard or middle-of-the-street roots where so many first found soccer, a tribute to why and how we came to love this game back when.

No good playground game is complete without picking teams and on Monday night in downtown Atlanta the two team captains, FC Gold Pride’s Marta and the Washington Freedom’s Abby Wambach picked their starters in a public event.

On Wednesday night it was game time.  Of course, the players weren’t playing in the street, but rather at the brand new KSU Soccer Stadium, which serves as the home for the Atlanta Beat when it’s not filling the role of “nicest schoolyard you’ll ever see.”  The 4,610 fans that filled KSU’s bright yellow seats saw Marta XI, the team whose starters included four-time FIFA World Player of the Year (Marta), the greatest Canadian Women’s player in history (Christine Sinclair) and the most capped player, male or female, of all-time (Kristine Lilly)  post a 5-2 victory over Abby XI.  Not a bad result considering the Abby XI starters included the woman many consider the world’s best goalkeeper (Hope Solo), the 2009 WPS Defender of the Year (Amy Lepeilbet) and scorer of 107 international goals (Wambach).

In keeping with paying tribute to soccer’s roots, it was only fitting that US National Team legend Michelle Akers delivered the first kick.  Older WPS fans likely know Akers (and know that without her and what she contributed to the game WPS probably wouldn’t be around), but some of the younger fans needed a little educating, which they got courtesy of current US National Team and Washington Freedom star Abby Wambach.  “The little girl next to me, who was walking out with me, she says ‘is she as famous as Mia Hamm was?’  And if you know anything about soccer you know, I mean MIa earned every credit that she deserved, and she did it with hard work, but I think that she would be the first one to say that Michelle was the star, the heart, the soul of the National Team, and she was the one that I was looking up to so I kind of was a little star-struck when I saw her” said Wambach.  And while the younger fans may not fully grasp Akers significance to the women’s game, Wambach certainly does, “To see her here to support us, she’s still ripped, she probably could still kill anybody.  To see her supporting this league, it’s special.”

Once the opening whistle blew, it took just minutes for Marta XI to put pressure on their opponents, forcing Abby XI ‘keeper Hope Solo to make a save in the 4th minute.  Three minutes later, Marta would put her side up 1-0.  English International and Boston Breakers midfielder Kelly Smith fed a ball through the Abby XI defense to the Brazilian superstar, who put the ball past Solo in the 7th minute.

One minute later Marta XI doubled their lead, again courtesy of their captain.  This time the FC Gold Pride star was able to slip a ball past Solo near post.  “I tried to beat my defender and brought the ball to my [sarcastic] powerful left foot.  And all I could see is that space there and I tried to hit it in that space and that was it” said Marta of the goal after the game.  The Marta XI had earlier in the week nicknamed themselves ‘The United Nations’ due to their international heavy roster.  Seven different countries were represented by the ‘white and teal team’ – the US, England, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Canada and Japan.

Neither Abby XI coach Paul Riley or Marta XI coach Albertin Montoya put much emphasis on defending early in the week (both teams had just three true defenders in their starting lineups), but come game time the Marta XI back line was up to the task, stopping an Eniola Aluko pass destined for Lauren Cheney in the 9th minute.  In the 18th Abby XI was able to break through the Marta XI defense, but Cheney shot the ball across the open net and wide.

As the opening half wore on, things calmed down, as both teams, who had had only one 90 minute practice session together prior to the match, seemed to settle in. But in the 31st minute ‘The United Nations’ found the back of the net again.  Solo made a save on a low, hard shot from Marta XI and Philadelphia Independence defender Allison Falk but the rebound landed at the feet of an open Christine Sinclair, who tapped in the ball to put her team up 3-0.  “At 3-0 I was getting a little frustrated, I’m not gonna lie.  As a competitor and somebody who doesn’t like to lose, from the time I was five years old I would storm off in a fit because my brothers would never let me win, being the youngest of seven,” said Abby Wambach after the match about her team going down early.

Abby XI began to pressure late in the half.  In the 33rd Eniola Aluko was beaten to the ball by Marta XI ‘keeper Erin McLeod.  A minute later Wambach sent a cross through the box, but it was again McLeod who got there first.  In the 35th the pressure paid off and Aluko put her team back within two.  US National Team and Sky Blue FC midfielder Heather O’Reilly crossed the ball to Wambach, whose point blank header was blocked by Freedom teammate McLeod.  Aluko, who plays for the English National Team and the Atlanta Beat, collected the rebound for Abby XI’s first goal of the night.

The night’s most egregious foul (and one of just seven in the game) came near the end of the half, as Marta XI and Atlanta Beat forward Ramona Bachmann went in for a very late tackle on O’Reilly, after being ‘megged by the Abby XI midfielder.  The two had several battles in the midfield on the night.  After the match O’Reilly laughed it off.  “I guess I don’t really know what to say to that” she said, before ultimately coming up with the diplomatic answer.  “I didn’t quite know what, uh–  Yeah, you know I think that we’re all competitive and even if it’s an all-star game, you know, there’s some competitive moments out there.”

Marta XI’s ‘United Nations’ went into the halftime break up 3-1 on the decidedly more US based Abby XI (just one starter and two reserves for Abby XI were not domestic players).

At halftime WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci spoke about the game.  “I think it’s fantastic.  As a fan I’m enjoying it myself.  You know, there’s not a lot of defense being played and that’s fine.  We’ve seen, what, four goals so far?  And I think we’ll see many more before the night’s out and it’s just fun to see the creativity and the flair and the flow and also, some of these players, they just don’t normally play together, it’s the nature of an all-star game,” the Commissioner said.  “I think also, unique about this year is having 34 of our players.  Last year we played Umea, a club team, so we had fewer all-stars involved.  This time we have more of the great players from our league getting to go head-to-head and I think they’re having a lot of fun and the fans are too.”

In the 53rd minute Solo came up with what was the game’s biggest save, sliding in to pull the ball away from her Atlanta Beat teammate Bachmann on a breakaway.  Two minutes later the US National Team goalkeeper made another save, this time on second half sub and Brazilian International Cristiane.

Both teams made a flurry of changes in the second half, as in true schoolyard fashion unlimited substitutions were allowed.  Apparent lobbying from other WPS coaches worried about their players legs for this weekend’s league matches also led to a late rule change that allowed players who were subbed out to re-enter the match.  Although not originally part of plan, the change only further captured the spirit of the playground game.

After each side had a share of opportunities it was again Marta XI that got on the scoreboard in the 74th minute.  Japanese International and Atlanta Beat midfielder Aya Miyama took a shot that beat second-half Abby XI ‘keeper Jillian Loyden.  Philadelphia Independence and US International forward Amy Rodriguez brought the ball into the area before feeding a pass back to Miyama, who took a fired a shot from distance to put Marta XI up 4-1.

Abby XI tried to make a comeback, getting their second goal on the night care of Lauren Cheney in the 79th minute.  The US National Team and rookie Boston Breakers forward headed an O’Reilly cross past Marta XI second half ‘keeper Nicole Barnhart to put her team back within two.  But just a minute later Marta XI would score again, the goal coming from Rodriguez.  The recent WPS player of the week went 1 v. 1 with Abby XI defender Tina Ellertson and then chipped the ball over Loyden for the night’s final goal.

Abby XI’s Natasha Kai scored for her side in the 88th, but the Sky Blue FC forward’s tally was called back for offsides.  The match ended two minutes later, final score: Abby XI 2 – 5 Marta ‘The United Nations’ XI.

After the match, the players and coaches, whether on the winning or losing side, all agreed on one thing: it was fun.

“It’s just all about attack, it’s all about scoring goals.  I’m not used to a 5-2 game, but I think it was a lot of fun.  I mean, world class talent out on the field, it’s an honor to be with a lot of those players.  Great crowd here so, all in all great night.  I wish I could be on the winning end of it, of course as a competitor, but this game is about the fans and just about celebrating WPS and the wonderful league that it is” said Heather O’Reilly.

Marta XI captain Marta agreed, “I think the game was a great game.  I think we gave the fans what they came for, which is to have fun, enjoy.  And of course I’m really happy because we won the game.”  And like O’Reilly she too  was thrilled to be playing with the league’s best.  “When you get together that many good players, it makes it easier for anybody on the field.  And right now, if you can see everybody on the field, there’s probably the top players in the world right now.  And it’s easy to play and enjoyable to play” the FC Gold Pride forward said through a translator. “It was a celebration.  The All-Star Game was celebrating the soccer here.”

Abby Wambach also had a good time, “I thought today was a perfect environment for people to come, enjoy themselves, see good soccer, see great goals, see individual flair and talent and obviously by the scoreline their team was better than ours, but all in all it was a fun day.  I’m proud to be a part of it, obviously honored to be named the captain, but you know, everybody on that field is a captain in my opinion” she said.  “I think that that’s obviously what we come here– as individuals to create an all-star team there’s not gonna be a lot of fluidity, there’s probably not gonna be great tactics, it’s just gonna kind of be individual flair and I thought that, obviously Marta’s the best in the world at individual flair, so, they got successful at getting in behind us early on and you know it’s just a matter of getting everybody off the field with no injuries, giving the fans something to cheer about and having some fun along the way” Wambach continued.  The Abby XI captain also acknowledged the fans, “Not too often do you get to play with some of these players and it was fun.  It was exciting and a lot of the kids out there were just telling me how much fun it was to see everybody on one field.”

Everyone also agreed that KSU Soccer Stadium was indeed a sight to see.  “My first time here and this is unmatched, anywhere else.  I haven’t seen a facility this incredible.  It’s just, it’s perfect for a women’s game.  It’s not too big and the field is, I mean this one of the best fields we’ve played on this year,” said Marta XI coach Albertin Montoya.  “The locker rooms.  I mean, to tell you the truth, I got lost in there today.  And I’m like ‘this is.. come on, this is out of this world.’  Things that they provide for the players.  And that’s how it should be.  I mean, it’s great that these players feel – that they feel like professionals.  And that’s how it should be.”  Commissioner Antonucci agreed, “The stadium is tremendous.  It’s the first of its kind in our league and as a women’s soccer specific stadium it’s really kind of groundbreaking for the sport.  And I think it’s just a real testament to the quality of play, the players on the field and what they bring in terms of their world class talent, for them to have a stadium that fits what they bring.”

Let’s let Abby Wambach bring it home:  “Nobody likes to lose, but, this is an all-star game, and like I said before, as long as everybody had a good time, we saw some great goals, some great individual talent and if everybody’s healthy coming out of this game, that’s what’s important.  And you know, obviously the fans getting something for them to cheer about – I think it happened tonight.”

Photos from the Pick ‘Em Event, Training and the All-Star Game here.

FUN FACTS AND OTHER NOTES:
The six Sky Blue FC players taking part in the All-Star Game – O’Reilly, Kai, Christie Rampone, Karen Bardsley, Brittany Taylor and Laura Kalmari – had a whirlwind few days of travel, taking a red-eye from the Bay Area to Newark on Sunday night after defeating Gold Pride and then flying to Atlanta in time for Monday night’s Pick ‘Em event.  After Wednesday’s game they had an early morning flight to Washington DC, where Sky Blue was being honored by President Barack Obama for their 2009 Championship victory.  “Luckily I have a bye-weekend this weekend coming up.  So I tried to keep that in mind as I was running up and down those flanks.  But tomorrow I’m off to meet the President with Sky Blue FC, so you don’t need legs for that, right?” O’Reilly joked after the match… Sky Blue goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was originally named as an All-Star starter and was selected to Marta XI, but couldn’t play in the match after injuring her clavicle in a collision with Cristiane during Tuesday’s training session – reserve Erin McLeod replaced her as a starter and FC Gold Pride’s Nicole Barnhart, who was in Atlanta ahead of Gold Pride’s match against the Beat this weekend, was named a reserve.  Bardsley is out indefinitely for Sky Blue and her injury will be reevaluated when the team returns to NJ… Marta XI coach Albertin Montoya did triple-duty on Wednesday, first playing, a scoring a few goals, for the PR and New Media team in the Media Game that morning (final score TV & Radio 8 – 6 PR & New Media), then holding a training session for FC Gold Pride in the afternoon and finally coaching Marta XI to a victory that night… Marta was named All-Star MVP, but was humble about the award “Before I even played professional I always dreamed to play for the Brazilian National Team.  And I always dreamed to be playing at such a high level and today I was not the MVP.  The whole team was the MVP.  And it’s nice to be playing at this level.  And I don’t think like everyday the stuff that I’m getting, I just go with it” she said…WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci talked expansion at halftime: “I think it’s very likely that we’ll be in a position to announce by the end of the year a new expansion team…More likely for 2012” the commish said.  “We’re talking to enough interested parties for 2012 that by the end of this year we’ll probably be in a position to announce that one will be coming for 2012.  And we have a particular focus on west, west coast, middle-to-west.  We just want to balance out the national footprint for sure” she said… The Commissioner also talked about the possibility of WPS taking a break during the 2011 World Cup next summer “Potentially yeah.  We’re just starting to engage with US Soccer and the other federations to try to – best plan for next season.  Obviously we want to do right by the national programs and make sure the Women’s World Cup is the pinnacle of the sport as far as an event so we want to work together with them but we also want to preserve as much of WPS’s regular season as we can.”… Antonucci said that the unique Pick ‘Em format for the All-Star Game actually came from a fan’s suggestion in an online forum… Because of the unlimited subs and the late rule change to allow re-entry there were 18 substitutions made in the match.

MATCH FACTS:
Abby’s XI vs. Marta’s XI
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 — KSU Soccer Stadium
FINAL

SCORING SUMMARY:
Team                    1                    2                    F
ABY:                    1                    1                    2
MRT:                    3                    2                    5

MRT: Marta (Kelly Smith) 7′
MRT: Marta 8 (Unassisted) 8′
MRT: Christine Sinclair 5 (Unassisted) 31′
ABY: Eniola Aluko 5 (Unassisted) 35′
MRT: Aya Miyama 1 (Amy Rodriguez) 74′
ABY: Lauren Cheney 2 (Heather O’Reilly) 78′
MRT: Amy Rodriguez 7 (Cristiane) 80′

ABBY’S XI — Hope Solo (Jillian Loyden, 56′), Cat Whitehill (Heather O’Reilly, 63′, Kelley O’Hara, 52′), Amy LePeilbet, Tina Ellertson, Lori Chalupny (Cat Whitehill, 66′, Heather O’Reilly, 63′, Kelley O’Hara, 52′), Lori Lindsey (Laura Kalmari, 57′), Shannon Boxx (Angie Kerr, 57′), Lauren Cheney (Karen Carney, 52′), Heather O’Reilly (Kelley O’Hara, 52′), Eniola Aluko (Tasha Kai, 52′), Abby Wambach (Lauren Cheney, 73′, Karen Carney, 52′)

Substitutes Not Used: n/a

MARTA’S XI — Erin McLeod (Nicole Barnhart, 57′), Brittany Taylor, Allison Falk (Christie Rampone, 49′), Rachel Buehler (Becky Sauerbrunn, 49′), Sonia Bompastor, Kelly Smith (Alex Scott, 49′), Kristine Lilly (Aya Miyama, 69′, Cristiane, 48′), Ramona Bachmann (Kristine Lilly, 78′, Aya Miyama, 69′, Cristiane, 48′), Aya Miyama (Cristiane, 48′), Marta (Rachel Buehler, 69′, Becky Sauerbrunn, 49′), Christine Sinclair (Amy Rodriguez, 47’)

Substitutes Not Used: n/a

TEAM STATS:
ABY           MRT

Shots     15     23
Shots on Goal           6     8
Fouls     2     5
Offsides     5     5
Corner Kicks     3     3
Saves     3     4

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:
none

Referee: Margaret Domka
Referee Assistants: Amy Mahan, Patrick Baker
4th Official: Felisha Mariscal
Attendance: 4610

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FC Gold Pride stumbles in 2-0 loss to Sky Blue

Posted on 28 June 2010 by asu

The FC Gold Pride suffered their third loss of the season tonight against NJ Sky Blue. Playing in triple-digit weather seemed to have a different and opposite effect on each team, with the Pride limping into the game with heavy legs and only beginning to heat up too late into the second half while Sky Blue consistently sizzled with offensive aplomb and a composed and cool defense. Alice Hsu reports.

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Pride Stumbles in 2-0 Loss to Sky Blue

Posted on 28 June 2010 by asu

The FC Gold Pride suffered their third loss of the season tonight against NJ Sky Blue. Playing in triple-digit weather seemed to have a different and opposite effect on each team, with the Pride limping into the game with heavy legs and only beginning to heat up too late into the second half while Sky Blue consistently sizzled with offensive aplomb and a composed and cool defense.

The first five minutes of the game seemed like any other Pride home game. There were several offensive chances with a main play in the 4th minute on a Pride forward Kelley O’Hara cross from the left side of the field to a rushing Shannon Boxx. Unfortunately, Sky Blue goalkeeper and All-Star team pick, Karen Bardsley, shut down the duo by palm-punching the ball away from the mouth of the goal. Sky Blue defender and team captain, Christie Rampone, then cleared it from the penalty area. The rest of the first half was slow, with few other offensive attacks and with more passing by both teams than pressure by either. After the first 10 minutes, Sky Blue maintained clear possession, with several runs where their players got past the Pride backline. However, Sky Blue then held the ball far too long when in striking distance, which allowed Pride players to track back and regain possession.

As the first half wore down, Sky Blue seemed to pick up their pace while the Pride continued to hold the ball. The Pride back line consisting of Candace Chapman, Rachel Buehler, Kandace Wilson, and Ali Riley started being tested with frequency and ferocity. Sky Blue’s defensive trio made up of Heather O’Reilly, Laura Kalmari, and Rosana kept chipping away at the centerbacks with an endless flurry of crosses and give-and-gos. At the whistle, the score remained 0-0.

Seeming to sense the team’s lethargy, Pride coach Albertin Montoya made all three substitutions within the first 3 minutes of the second half. As a result, the second half saw more chances on goal by the Pride, but the runs were still a little slower and the reactions to set plays were still a little sluggish. Sky Blue took advantage of the Pride’s stupor in the 58th minute with a O’Reilly cross from the right side of the field onto the head of a speeding Rosana who tapped it over Pride goalkeeper Nicoe Barnhart’s head. The Pride finally reacted with a flurry of offensive activity, with a majority of activity coming from halftime substitute, Tiffany Millbrett, who had several shots on goal that were just wide of the target.

Unfortunately, even with the fresh legs of Millbrett and Montoya’s other substitutes, Kristen Graczyk and Camille Abily, the Pride’s offensive opportunities continued to be limited by Rampone’s organized back.

Sky Blue sealed the deal with second half substitute Natasha Kai’s goal in the 88th minute. Kai received a through ball from Jessica Landstrom and was able to put on the afterburners and beat Graczyk and Buehler for a one-on-one with Barnhart. While facing Barnhart, Kai stepped to the left and then slotted a driven ball to the outside post, just past Barnhart’s outstretched fingers and into the back of the net. The Pride was not able to launch a successful attack in the remaining minutes of the game. During stoppage time, Marta vocally expressed the displeasure and frustration that all the Pride players must have been feeling on the inside; she received a yellow card for her troubles. The game ended with a definitive 2-0 Sky Blue victory.

The highlight of the Pride’s latter half was Millbrett’s ability to tap into seemingly endless reserves of energy and make run after run, despite the heat and the physical play. But, the talk of the game was the ability of Sky Blue’s defensive line to shut down the offensive trio of Christine Sinclair, Marta, and Kelley O’Hara. Bardsley controlled the backline and cleared balls from her area with seemingly no feelings of pressure, even with Pride players running onto the backs of her defenders. When asked about key to shutting down the Pride offense, Bardsley cited the “constant communication between me and my back four and our midfield” and “trying to get them to stay proactive in finding marks.”

Sky Blue coach Pauliina Miettinen praised her team for being “being disciplined” and praised especially the defense, stating that, “defense is the most key to any game,” regardless of possession. Rampone acknowledged that shutting down Marta, Sinclair, and O’Hara was crucial, and “they definitely made us work,” so they had be “locked on [them] at all times.”

Montoya was understandably frustrated, yet focused on the positives, acknowledging that as a “team we were creating our chances,” and “didn’t give up” while “created some very good chances inside the 18 and it just goes back to having to finish your chances.” Buehler conceded that it was a “tough game” with the team struggling with the heat and ultimately not “capitalizing on our opportunities,” but that the frustration was “also part of the game.”

The Pride needed this win to solidify their first place ranking as the Philadelphia Independence were nipping at their heels with their June 26, 2010 win over the Washington Freedom. With this loss, however, there is a mere one point difference between these high-flying acts. The Pride travels to Atlanta this coming weekend to battle the Beat.

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Gold Pride stay tops in WPS after draw with Freedom

Posted on 06 June 2010 by asu

The top of the ranks for Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league remained unchanged with the FC Gold Pride’s 1-1 tie tonight in the game against the Washington Freedom. The big news of the week, of course, was the acquisition of Shannon Boxx (formerly of the Saint Louis Athletica) on Thursday by the Pride. Boxx may have just practiced with the FC Gold Pride a total of two times before starting and playing a full 90 minutes tonight, but her ability to adapt and become an integral part of the number one team in the league in such a short period of time is telling. The fact that she had played with about half of the team before, either on the United States Women’s National and Olympic teams or the Los Angeles Sol, did not hurt the cohesive process either. ASN’s Alice Su reports on FCGP’s 1-1 draw with the Freedom.

Marta celebrates a crucial goal

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FC Gold Pride Remain Top After Draw With Freedom

Posted on 06 June 2010 by asu

The top of the ranks for Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league remained unchanged with the FC Gold Pride’s 1-1 tie tonight in the game against the Washington Freedom. The big news of the week, of course, was the acquisition of Shannon Boxx (formerly of the Saint Louis Athletica) on Thursday by the Pride. Boxx may have just practiced with the FC Gold Pride a total of two times before starting and playing a full 90 minutes tonight, but her ability to adapt and become an integral part of the number one team in the league in such a short period of time is telling. The fact that she had played with about half of the team before, either on the United States Women’s National and Olympic teams or the Los Angeles Sol, did not hurt the cohesive process either.

Boxx made her presence known to the Northern California soccer within minutes of the starting whistle in what she proclaimed was an “exciting game.” Finding herself within 4 yards of the net, Boxx headed a beautiful ball that looked like it was going over Freedom goalkeeper Erin McLeod’s head. At the last second, McLeod was able to get a fist on the ball to clear it over the goal.

The Pride maintained possession early on and kept it a majority of the game. With short and driven passes, the midfield was able to continuously move the ball within 20 yards of the Freedom goal during every set play. The Freedom was kept away from the Pride goal at around the same mark, generally losing possession due to the strong defensive work by the Pride central defenders or occasionally through bad passes.

The first and only goal by the Freedom came in the 37th minute and was due to series of unusually bad clearances by the Pride. Freedom midfielder, Sonia Bompastor, served a give-and-go ball to a streaking Allie Long, after it seemed like every Pride player took a chance to clear the ball and missed. Long then took a quick shot from in front of the goal, getting it past Pride goalkeeper, Nicole Barnhart. Barnhart had little chance to set herself up after trying to react to the flurry of activity in her space.

Montoya’s directive for Pride captain, Rachel Buehler, to mark the Freedom’s own offensive giant, Abby Wambach, paid off, as Wambach was effectively taken out of the picture by Buehler’s aggressive defensive tactics and her ability to communicate with outside defender Ali Riley to double team the 5’10 forward. Freedom coach, Jim Gabarra, must have had a similar directive for his team as the usually dynamic duo of Pride forwards, Christine Sinclair and Kelley O’Hara, were shut down for a majority of the game. The Pride was down 0-1 at the end of the first half.

Fortunately, whether it was the presence of her ex-Sol teammate, Boxx, or being, as Pride coach Albertin Montoya, “just a matter of time of getting games in,” Pride forward, Marta’s ability to launch a one-woman offensive was kicked into overdrive. Whatever it was, Montoya said with a smile, “hopefully this continues because [] she was outstanding.” It seemed like Marta took more shots on goal in this game than in all the previous Pride games put together; only one went in, but it was a crucial one in the 75th minute.

Finding herself with the ball just outside the Freedom box, Marta calmly took on three defenders with another one coming up on the crowd fast. While dribbling through traffic, Marta took one look and shot a low driven ball into the left corner of the Freedom net. The Freedom did not get a good chance at the Pride net after that moment; the remaining part of the match saw the Pride retain possession and keep the Freedom from setting up any set pieces.

Marta celebrates a crucial goal

Gabarra acknowledged that it was a “battle” out there but that the Freedom was “defending way too much and [] were pinned in [their] end way too much,” to be effective against that “quality of a team.” The Pride’s offensive line is seemingly more confident in their abilities to take the shots necessary to keep their defenders off kilter. Whether they can keep up their offensive drives in the games ahead remains to be seen.

The chances were there, and as Boxx put it, “the way we get better is we finish those.” The Pride plays its next home game against the Boston Breakers on June 19, 2010.

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Weekend recap: Red Stars upset Gold Pride and a stalemate in the Garden State

Posted on 31 May 2010 by mwkajdas

Heather O'Reilly

In what could be considered the biggest upset win of this WPS season to date, the Chicago Red Stars, at the end of a tumultuous week of changing coaches, defeated league-leading FC Gold Pride and ended their five-game winning streak with an early second-half goal from Kosovare Asllani. Michael Kajdas reports from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., on that match.

The Boston Breakers came to Yurcak Field in New Jersey on Saturday night looking to stop two streaks, an all time winless record against defending WPS Champions Sky Blue FC and the five game winless streak they’ve carried since the second week of the season. After 90 minutes, the Breakers would leave with both still intact, playing to a 0-0 draw with Sky Blue in a game that saw Heather O’Reilly start at forward rather than her usual spot in midfield. The switch agreed with the U.S. international. “I have a lot of fun playing striker,” she said after the match. Lauren Barker reports from Piscataway, N.J.

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Red Stars tame Gold Pride with a 1-0 win

Posted on 30 May 2010 by mwkajdas

In what could be considered the biggest upset win of this WPS season to date, the Chicago Red Stars, at the end of a tumultuous week of changing coaches, defeated league-leading FC Gold Pride and ended their five-game winning streak with an early second-half goal from Kosovare Asllani. Gold Pride’s head coach, Albertin Montoya, sighed with deep despondence after the game. “Well I thought it was a pretty even game for the most part, both teams having some quality chances. And they put their chance away in that second half… We were flat for about 10-15 minutes after that goal. We made some changes toward the end that worked out well for us and we put some more pressure on them. But they did a good job of holding on and getting a win.”

In fact, the first fifteen minutes of the game was an even-ended battle for the midfield, which neither team was willing to concede. Chicago’s acting head coach, Marcia McDermott, dropped Formiga back into a defensive midfielder position, which frustrated Gold Pride’s attempts to penetrate up the middle, while Karen Carney continued to play the attacking midfielder role which she recently assumed during the previous game against Philadelphia. While both teams jousted back and forth in search of an opening attack, Chicago earned a moral victory by not giving up the early goal that has cost them three of their four losses so far this year.

Gold Pride ended up dominating the offensive play in the first half and nearly opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Marta received a pass from Kelley O’Hara inside Chicago’s penalty area and refused to be stopped, breaking away from a tandem of defenders to loop a left-footed cross to Christine Sinclair, who was waiting patiently inside the 6-yard box. Sinclair snapped a powerful header toward the open net but lifted the ball just up over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Marta found her again, heading the ball over the defensive line as Sinclair sprinted toward the Chicago goal. However, luck was not on their side this night as Sinclair deposited the ball into the back of the net but was waved off for an apparent offside infraction.

For the rest of the half, Gold Pride attacked mostly up their left sideline, continually sending O’Hara into the corner in search of Sinclair while doing just as good a job of keeping Marta away from the ball as Chicago was managing. The Red Stars, for their part, never really looked threatening in the first 45 minutes. Their best chance came in the 30th minute when Kosovare Asllani lead a long pass up to Cristiane in the penalty area, who deked deftly away from her defender only to fire her shot wide to the left of the goalpost.

But the Red Stars have always been a team that shines brighter in the second half and this game proved to be no different for them. In the 55th minute, Karen Carney passed the ball out wide to Marian Dalmy who took the ball deep into the right corner. Kosovare Asllani found her crossing pass and pushed the ball into the open net. “At the start of the play I was on the top flank, which is Cristiane’s place,” she described the play afterward. “And she ended up in my place. And when I saw that Dalmy took that run… I knew that the ball was going to come to me so I just took the hardest run. We really deserved that goal… I think that it wasn’t just my goal but the team’s goal…everybody had a part in this.”

The goal seemed to raise Chicago’s game as they went on to dominate play for the rest of the game. “After we went down a goal we panicked a little bit and started playing a little more direct than we needed to,” Montoya gave his assessment. “There was plenty of time in the game. And there was a time when we settled down again with about ten minutes left in the half. We could have been a little more composed and in control even though we were a goal down. There was lots of time left in the game. We just had to keep playing our game and not make too many changes and hopefully get the goal.”

Only the players in the locker room really know whether this rise in the Red Stars’ fortunes was due to the change in coaching or to their awareness that there is a contingent of Athletica players waiting in the wings eager to replace them. Marcia McDermott was noncommital about the prospects of acquiring any of the new free agents on the market. “Obviously every team has to consider the different options available and every team has to be very thoughtful of this opportunity. We are going to get ready with this team to enjoy what they accomplished on the field,” she glossed over the topic in sphinx-like fashion. On how long she will continue in her role as head coach, however, she was a bit more emphatic. “We’re conducting a coaching search currently. I think it’s just too much to expect to fill too many roles within an organization. It’s too important, each of them on their own. Right now we’re actively in the position of building a list for the next Red Stars coach. I want to get the right person. So it will take what it takes. We’ll be thorough. We’re conducting the search in the appropriate way.”

At any rate and with any coach, the Red Stars proved with this game that they can still hold their own against any other team in the league. “I feel like it starts now,” Kosovare Asllani expounded after the game. “We had a couple of games where I feel we had dominated the game and we hadn’t won. After all, winning is the most important thing. I think we got really good confidence after this game and we can be everything in this league.”

Match Facts

Chicago Red Stars vs FC Gold Pride
May 29, 2010 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, Ill.
Attendance: 3845
Weather: Calm clear skies and 73 degrees

Scoring:

55’ Chicago: Kosovare Asllani (Marian Dalmy)

Misconduct:
83’ Gold Pride: Carrie Dew (yellow card)

Lineups
Chicago Red Stars:
Jillian Loyden
Natalie Spilger
Kate Markgraf
Whitney Engen
Marian Dalmy
Formiga
Megan Rapinoe (57: Casey Nogueira)
Karen Carney
Katie Chapman
Cristiane (91+: Julianne Sitch)
Kosovare Asllani (67: Ella Masar)

FC Gold Pride:
Nicole Barnhart
Ali Riley
Rachel Buehler
Candace Chapman
Kristen Graczyk (75: Kiki Bosio)
Becky Edwards
Tiffeny Milbrett (60: Kandace Wilson)
Carrie Dew (83: Solveig Gulbrandsen)
Kelley O’Hara
Christine Sinclair
Marta

Officials

Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Asst Referees: Ian Anderson, Victor Herrera
4th Official: Ian Gut

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WPS: FC Gold Pride stay tops

Posted on 09 May 2010 by asu

Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart held the back line and FC Gold Pride added a fourth game to their winning streak by defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-0. What a difference a year makes! The Pride was at the bottom of the standing around this time last year. Now they are sitting on top for the second week in a row. Photo credit: ©2010 Patricia Giobetti. Read the story at our WPS page.

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