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Breakers Break Even

Posted on 23 May 2011 by ASN Staff

BOSTON BREAKERS PRESS RELEASE

Allston, MA (May 22, 2011) – Lauren Cheney knocked in a header on the goalline in the 48th minute to preserve a 1-1 tie for the Breakers (2-4-1) in their match Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Independence (2-1-2).

In front of 6,128 fans at Harvard Stadium, the Breakers snapped a two-game losing streak with the draw, the team’s first tie since Sept. 11, 2010, when they drew, 0-0 with Sky Blue FC on the road.

Tasha Kai put Philadelphia ahead in the 44th minute when she took a pass from Lianne Sanderson, cut back, and made a move to avoid Breakers defender Amy LePeilbet. Nearing the top of the box, Kai unleashed a shot that beat Boston keeper Alyssa Naeher. It was Kai’s second goal against Boston this season.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Cheney pulled Boston level, following up a header by rookie midfielder Keelin Winters. The play began when Breakers defender Alex Scott sent midfielder Kelley O’Hara on a run on the right side. O’Hara crossed it to Winters, who lined a header right on goal. Philadelphia keeper Nicole Barnhart managed to get her fingertips on the ball, but it dropped down right on the line, and that’s where Cheney headed it in for her first goal of the season.

“That was Keelin’s goal for sure. It could’ve been in before I headed it in, but I wanted to make sure it got into the back of the net,” Cheney said. “It was a great header by Keelin.”

Kai nearly gave Philadelphia the lead in the 61st minute, taking a well-played through ball from Tina DiMartino into the box and lining a shot on goal, but Boston keeper Alyssa Naeher made the save, one of eight on the night. Five minutes later, the Breakers tried taking advantage of a short corner played by Kelly Smith to Liz Bogus. Bogus hit it right back to Smith, who then looped a ball into the box where Winters hit a header over the crossbar.

In the 68th minute, the action picked up again. This time DiMartino put a shot on goal, one that Naeher had to dive to stop. Three minutes later, Philadelphia had a two-on-one break with Amy Rodriguez taking the ball into the 18 and to the left of Naeher. Rodriguez tried crossing the ball, but LePeilbet stuck out her leg and deflected the dangerous pass. Each team put a shot on goal in the final 20 minutes, but each keeper came up big to preserve the tie. Barnhart denied Breakers midfielder Leslie Osborne on a quick strike 6 yards from goal in the 72nd minute, and Naeher stopped a free kick by Sanderson in the 82nd minute.

“I like the way we came out in the second half,” Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco said. “They’re a good team. They’ve got speed up top. (Tasha) Kai on the counter attack, we give it up in the midfield, and she makes us pay. But for the most part, our defense did a good job against a very dangerous team. They didn’t really have that many really good looks at our goal, and I thought we had some great looks. I’m happy with the team. We’re still getting there. We’re still developing some of the younger players who need to really give us a boost here down the stretch. It was a good performance, especially in the second half for us, coming back and getting a goal. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win, but I’m pleased with the performance.”

The Breakers head to New Jersey on Saturday, May 28, at 7 p.m. to take on Sky Blue FC (1-3-1). Sunday’s tie keeps Boston in fourth place in the WPS table, one point behind Philadelphia and three points ahead of both Sky Blue FC and the Atlanta Beat.

At halftime, the Breakers retired Kristine Lilly’s No. 13. Lilly became the first person in WPS history to have her number retired. An emotional Lilly addressed the fans following the video tribute that highlighted her legendary career.

“I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for all the support through all the years. It doesn’t go without notice,” Lilly said. “Everytime I stepped on the soccer field, I gave all I had.”

Following the game, Lilly said, “I think the whole halftime caught me off guard. I didn’t think I was going to get as emotional as I did. But it was great. The crowd was great tonight. The video brought back memories. Having my family here was really nice. It was just a really, really nice night.”

QUOTES:

Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco on Keelin Winters: “Keelin was a great pickup. I knew her from coaching in the 2008 U-20 World Cup. She’s an excellent header of the ball. She’s fit. She runs hard. She’s a fighter. She’s been very, very solid. For a rookie, she’s played like a veteran. I can’t ask more of her. I’m very happy with her.”

Breakers midfielder Kelly O’Hara: “I think the difference between the first half and the second half was all of us being on the same page. Starting the second half knowing we needed to get a goal and trying to go for the win, and obviously we equalized. Everyone just stepped up their level so that’s why it appeared I was getting in the attack more. As a whole we just all took it to the next level.”

O’Hara on Cheney’s goal: “Alex (Scott) brought the ball down and she engaged their outside back and that kind of left me open on the outside and she played a great ball. (Keelin) Winters did a great job winning that ball and getting a header on goal and Barney (Nicole Barnhart) made the save and Cheney was there to finish it up.”

Boston Breakers midfielder Keelin Winters on setting up Lauren Cheney’s goal: “At the beginning of the game, Tony (DiCicco) just told our outside mids to find me at the edge of the 18-yard box so I rounded my run, I looked up and made sure I raised my hand. They saw me and just headed it towards goal. I think the goalie got a hand to it, and Cheney just followed it up and made sure it was in.”

Winters on playing in the WPS: “Coming into the WPS season it has been quite a transition from college, keeping up with the speed of play. Fortunately, I think I’ve been able to do that. It’s helpful when you have teammates around you communicating, letting me know when I can turn. It’s been hard to adjust, but I have really great teammates around me making it that much easier. Growing up, I knew I always wanted to play professional soccer so this is a dream come true. I’m glad the WPS is around. I remember watching her (Kristine Lilly) in the ’99 World cup. The WPS wasn’t around then, but I knew I wanted to play professional soccer. It’s a blessing for me to be able to play in this league.

Philadelphia Head Coach Paul Riley: “Anytime you get a point away from home against a team like Boston, I think it’s a well-earned point. We came here with a 4-3-3. We felt on the basis of winning 2-nil a couple week ago, that if we came out and attacked that we’d get an early goal and maybe draw Boston out a but, but that didn’t happen. Obviously, we’ve got the goal before halftime, but we gave up a suicide goal in the second half. We talked at halftime about keeping (Breakers defender) Alex Scott quiet. We didn’t get it done. (Breakers forward) Kelly Smith was fantastic. She ran the show. But I think a draw is a fair result overall. We created some great chances. Boston had some great moments. I thought it was a pretty good game. A point is better for us than it is for Boston. I think when you’re in this league, you’ve got to win your home games and you’ve got to try to get points as best you can on the road because last year we finished 3-7-2 on the road. We’re happy with the result. It’s going to be a battle to the end. Boston’s a great rival. It’s almost like a derby game. I look forward to playing them. It’s a great stadium. The fans are probably the best in the league, and they draw the most fans too. It’s always a good rivalry.

Philadelphia’s Tasha Kai: “Lianne Sanderson got the ball. I made a looping run. She played it with the outside of her foot. Took a first touch to goal, Amy LePeilbet cut my angle off, so I cut back the ball. I saw the keeper kind of hesitant so I just drilled it near post, and it beat her. I get drilled at all the time not to cut the ball back, but I do it all the time anyways, and this time I’m lucky the ball went in because I would’ve got reemed after the game. I just feel like her (Amy LePeilbet) momentum was taking her past me, so I cut the ball back and my next touch was the shot, and I beat both of them near post.”

Boston Breakers (2-4-1) vs. Philadelphia Independence (2-1-2)

Sunday, May 22, 2011 — Harvard Stadium

FINAL

SCORING SUMMARY:

Team            1            2            F

BOS:            0            1            1

PHI:            1            0            1

PHI: Tasha Kai 2 (Unassisted) 44′

BOS: Lauren Cheney 1 (Keelin Winters) 48′

BOSTON BREAKERS — Alyssa Naeher, Stephanie Cox, Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, Alex Scott, Leslie Osborne, Keelin Winters (Kasey Moore, 77′), Nikki Washington (Liz Bogus, 16′, Taryn Hemmings, 85′), Kelley O’Hara, Kelly Smith, Lauren Cheney

Substitutes Not Used: Ifeoma Dieke, Ashley Phillips, Katie Schoepfer, Leah Blayney

PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE — Nicole Barnhart, Leigh Ann Robinson, Nikki Krzysik, Estelle Johnson, Megan Rapinoe, Jen Buczkowski, Tina DiMartino (Holmfridur Magnusdottir, 69′), Lianne Sanderson, Sinead Farrelly (Lori Lindsey, 73′), Tasha Kai, Laura del Rio (Amy Rodriguez, 55′)

Substitutes Not Used: Joanna Lohman, Val Henderson

TEAM STATS:

BOS        PHI

Shots 9 14

Shots on Goal        6 9

Fouls 13 9

Offsides 2 2

Corner Kicks 3 0

Saves 8 5

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:

none

Attendance: 6,128

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.

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Independence advances on Rodriguez’ 120th minute tally

Posted on 20 September 2010 by lbarker

It wasn’t Golden Goal, but Amy Rodriguez’ game winner on Saturday afternoon came so late into overtime, it might as well have been. The Philadelphia Independence striker broke a 0-0 deadlock between the Independence and the Washington Freedom at 119 minutes and 37 seconds, sending the game’s only goal past Freedom ‘keeper Ashlyn Harris with less than a minute remaining in overtime.

The Independence had ended the regular season on a four game losing streak, letting second place and a bye into the Semi-Final slip away over the final weeks of the season. Good form had kept the Indys near the top of the table all season long, and even without results through the final matches, the Philly side was able to hold on to third place and the right to host a playoff game. The Washington Freedom had snuck into the playoffs as the four seed, thanks to a few late game heroics of their own – an 88th minute tally from Abby Wambach in their last match of the regular season secured the final postseason berth for Washington. The Freedom traveled to John A. Farrell Stadium in West Chester, PA as the only WPS team to appear in the playoffs in both 2009 and 2010. One hundred and twenty minutes later, they’d leave as the only WPS team to lose a playoff game in both 2009 and 2010. With the win the expansion Independence become the first-ever WPS team to win a home playoff game.

With the victory, the third place Independence will travel to Boston to take on the second place Breakers on Thursday night in the Super Semi-Final. For the Washington Freedom, the loss marks their second straight first round exit from the WPS playoffs – the Freedom lost 2-1 to eventual champions Sky Blue FC in the first round in 2009.

The Independence had the advantage early, with the Freedom trying to settle in to the narrow, turf field that the Indys call home. In the seventh minute Philadelphia’s Lianne Sanderson played a ball through to Holmfridur Magnusdottir. Rookie Freedom ‘keeper Ashlyn Harris came off her line to cut off the angle and was able to make a save on the Iceland International’s shot. it would be the first of many for Harris, who was peppered with 24 shots, nine of them on goal, from the home team (the Freedom on the other hand, managed just six shots, with a grand total of zero on goal through 120 minutes).

Harris, who became the Freedom’s number one ‘keeper late in the season after Erin McLeod went down a knee injury, was again forced to come up big for the Freedom in the 26th minute. The rookie ‘keeper was one-on-one with Sanderson and dove to block the Independence striker’s attempt. “I think Ashlyn was the MVP of this whole game,” said Freedom striker Abby Wambach. “I don’t feel like one player really stood out for me as much as she did. For a goalkeeper, you ask her to make one or two saves a game to keep you into it, but Ashlyn did far more than that.”

As the half wore on the Freedom, playing with 5 in the midfield and US International Wambach as the lone striker, began to control possession through the midfield, but were continually stymied by the Independence back line. Nikki Krzysik and Allison Falk were a particular source of frustration for Wambach, limiting the All-Star striker’s chances. “If they played like that all season we’d be playing at home for the final. They were dynamite tonight,” said Independence Head Coach Paul Riley. “Val did a great job in net, and I think Falky and particularly Nikki Krzysik I thought were very, very good. You got a rookie in right back, she came in again for Mittsy today and I thought she did tremendous in right back and the Icelandic– Frida’s a crazy-woman.”

The home side had one final opportunity as time ticked down on the first frame. In the 38th minute Sanderson played the ball across to Amy Rodriguez, but her shot sailed over the bar and both teams headed to the locker rooms deadlocked at zero.

The Freedom made one change to start the second half – bringing on forward Lene Mykjaland in place of defender Rebecca Moros – with hopes of sparking something offensively. Unfortunately for the DC side, it was the Independence who got the first good chance of the half, coming in the 51st minute. After a scramble in the Freedom box, the ball was sent back to Jen Buczkowski, who fired a hard shot from 25 yards out that sailed just over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, the Freedom defense broke down again, and again both teams scrambled to gain possession in front of the Freedom goal. French International Sonia Bompastor got the Freedom out of trouble, clearing the ball off the line to keep things level. The Independence kept the pressure on and in the 56th minute Tina DiMartino found Amy Rodriguez who took a shot that Harris stopped point-blank. Seconds later Rodriguez appeared to have netted the go-ahead goal, but her tally was called back after referee Jose Carlos Rivero signaled that she’d handled the ball.

In the 59th minute, the Freedom took their turn on the attack. The Independence turned over the ball near midfield and Sarah Huffman dribbled up the sideline before crossing the ball towards an onrushing Wambach. Wambach slid into Huffman’s cross, but was met by her defender before she was able to get a clean shot off. The Independence countered a few minutes later. In the 62nd Rodriguez ran onto a ball played over the Freedom back line, but was unable to control it, sending her shot over the crossbar. The back and forth continued, with Wambach and Mykjaland stringing together a series of passes inside the Independence box before Philly ‘keeper Val Henderson came out to challenge Wambach, forcing her 65th minute shot wide.

The final ten minutes saw three golden “how did that not go in!?” opportunities for the Independence. First in the 80th minute Lori Lindsey rocketed a hard shot that had ‘upper 90’ written all over it. Harris made a spectacular leaping one-handed save to keep Lindsey’s chance out of the back of the net and then made an equally impressive kick-save on Rodriguez, who had gained the ball on the rebound and fired on goal. Two minutes later Danesha Adams took a shot on goal that had Harris beat, but Bompastor was again there to clear the ball off the line. The third of the golden opportunities came in the 88th minute when Lindsey was again stopped by Harris. Rodriguez once again collected the rebound and rang her shot off the post – that rebound went towards goal, but Anita Asante got a foot to it before the ball was able to cross the line. “We had so many chances in that game. I can’t even tell you. I felt like I had a curse on me. And we kept pressing. Each halftime and timeout we kinda went over to the sidelines and Paul kept telling me ‘keep going. I don’t care if you miss ten in a row, just keep shooting, keep shooting,'” said Rodriguez.

Minutes later the whistle sounded to end the first 90 minutes, but because it was a playoff game a winner had to be decided – and so to overtime it went.

The pace through each of the two 15 minute overtime periods was considerably slower and both teams struggled to find quality chances. In the 96th minute Mykjaland dribbled in on goal but got tangled up with Krzysik, allowing Henderson to come out for the ball. In the 110th minute Rodriguez took a shot that rolled across the goal, but Harris was able to recover and make the stop.

The match, which was already the first overtime game in WPS history, looked destined to also be the first decided by penalty kicks. Inside the final minute of overtime the Freedom’s Nikki Marshall turned the ball over, starting a sequence that would be the game’s last. Marshall stumbled over the ball and it was collected by DiMartino who played the ball through the Freedom defense to Rodriguez. A-Rod had been on a hot streak through the middle of the season, at one point nearly catching FC Gold Pride’s Marta for the WPS Golden Boot, but had been absent from the score sheet as of late – and for 119 minutes it looked like that trend was going to continue. But in the 120th minute Rodriguez collected DiMartino’s pass, took a touch, and fired a near post shot past Harris. Less than a minute later her go-ahead goal became the game winner, sending the Independence through the to Semi-Final. “Great ball in behind the back line and I remember feeling like the defender was in front of me and last minute I kinda swooped in front of her and I was able to get a touch on the ball and saw the ‘keeper and decided to shoot near post,” said Rodriguez, describing her goal. “And I was so happy because the entire game I felt like I was continually shooting and nothing was going my way, nothing was going in. And also to see the clock, the 120th minute, knowing there’s no time left, it was perfect for us. We were really excited.” Paul Riley never lost confidence in his star striker. “I told her before overtime, I said ‘you’re not coming out. I’m not taking you off and you’re gonna miss. The best strikers in the world miss chance after chance after chance after chance. You gotta keep going, you’re gonna get another couple, just stick with it.’ Thank god she mis-kicked the last one ’cause she was going far post and it went near post. I think that probably summed up her day. Great strikers keep at it and she did a great job,” said Riley when asked about Rodriguez’ performance.

The Freedom meanwhile, will now join the Atlanta Beat, Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC in the offseason. “They gave it everything they had and they did their best and that’s all you can ask for. Sometimes you get bounces in this game, sometimes you don’t. Certainly it’s a cruel game at times,” remarked Freedom Head Coach Jim Gabarra. Abby Wambach acknowledged that the loss was frustrating, but overall was proud of her team. “I kept telling everyone ‘please, just get me the ball inside the box and I will score.’ It just couldn’t– one thing would happen. The surface– I just really feel the surface played so much into it. Credit to Philadelphia who kept with it, I think outplayed us in the second half and both of the overtimes,” said Wambach. “I think that maybe the better team won today. We did play our hearts out, we tried a different system in the second half. I think a broader perspective, in the bigger picture, from day one, we’ve become a better team. So in the long run I’m pretty proud of my players,” said Wambach. “Sad to not be in it, but proud of us for being able to last throughout an entire game, overtime, and trying to win there at the end. But A-Rod thought differently.”

Washington and Philadelphia are two clubs that could not be more different – the Freedom, with a history dating back to the WUSA days, were a team made of a solid core of returning players from 2009 mixed in with a few new additions. The Independence on the other hand, a brand new expansion side constructed mostly with WPS’s spare-parts. A place for a fresh start for those who had struggled elsewhere; were underused, under-appreciated and ultimately let go or left unprotected by their former clubs; displaced by teams folding. On Saturday in West Chester it was Paul Riley’s band of second-chancers coming out on top. “We’re one of those teams like Sky Blue were last year. Nobody anticipated us being here. I’m sure Boston doesn’t want to play us, I’m sure they’d rather play Washington,” said Riley after the match. Amy Rodriguez added, “I think tonight changed everything. I think tonight we really saw how we can keep continuing to fight and how we can battle and all the way to the 120th minute. And that gives us confidence.”

FUN FACTS:
Independence Coach Paul Riley was selected as the WPS Coach of the Year, beating out FC Gold Pride’s Albertin Montoya, Boston’s Tony DiCicco and Washington’s Jim Gabarra for the honor… Just two players in the WPS playoffs had a chance to become two-time champions, Philly’s Jen Buczkowski and Washington’s Anita Asante, who both spent 2009 with Sky Blue FC. With the Freedom eliminated, Buczkowski becomes the only player with the chance to win a second title…Washington Freedom and former US National Team goalkeeper Briana Scurry announced her retirement from professional soccer last week. Scurry was placed on the season-ending injury list earlier in the year due to concussion related issues, but had said that injury was not the reason for her retirement. The veteran ‘keeper was recognized at halftime and briefly addressed the crowd…Riley said that his decision to sub in Heather Mitts late in the second overtime was a strategic move in case the match went to penalty kicks. Mitts had missed the last few games due to injury… With the win philadelphia becomes the first home team to win a WPS playoff game. In 2009 Sky Blue FC won all three games on the road… Lori Lindsey and Joanna Lohman, who wasn’t rostered for the match, spent 2009 with the Freedom. Lindsey was picked up by the Independence after being left unprotected by DC in the expansion draft and Lohman signed as a free agent…Amy Rodriguez and Heather Mitts will face their former team on Thursday – both spent 2009 with the Breakers. Rodriguez, who was the number one draft pick in 2009, struggled in Boston, scoring just one goal. After the season she was traded to Philly in exchange for two draft picks (which Boston used on Lauren Cheney and Alyssa Naeher). Mitts signed with the Independence as a free agent… US National Team Coach Pia Sundhage was in attendance and watched the game from the press box. The USWNT starts camp tomorrow in Atlanta ahead of two friendlies with China…Philadelphia Union Forward Sebastian LeToux was on hand for the coin toss.

MATCH FACTS:
Philadelphia Independence (11-10-4) vs. Washington Freedom (8-10-7)
Sunday, September 19, 2010 — John A. Farrell Stadium
FINAL – (ET)

SCORING SUMMARY:
Team 1 2 ET F
PHI: 0 0 1 1
WSH: 0 0 0 0

PHI: Amy Rodriguez 1 (Tina DiMartino) 120′

PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE — Estelle Johnson, Nikki Krzysik, Allison Falk, Holmfridur Magnusdottir (Heather Mitts, 116′), Caroline Seger (Kelly Henderson, 108′), Lori Lindsey, Jen Buczkowski, Tina DiMartino, Amy Rodriguez, Lianne Sanderson (Danesha Adams, 78′), Val Henderson

Substitutes Not Used: Sara Larsson, Sarah Senty, Lyndsey Patterson, Robyn Jones

WASHINGTON FREEDOM — Ashlyn Harris, Cat Whitehill, Nikki Marshall, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rebecca Moros (Lene Mykjaland, 46′), Sonia Bompastor, Allie Long, Brittany Bock (Homare Sawa, 65′), Anita Asante, Abby Wambach, Sarah Huffman (Brittany Klein, 111′)

Substitutes Not Used: Christie Welsh, Beverly Goebel, Kristi Eveland, Meagan McCray

TEAM STATS:
PHI WSH

Shots 24 6
Shots on Goal 9 0
Fouls 12 12
Offsides 3 4
Corner Kicks 7 2
Saves 0 6

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:
PHI: Holmfridur Magnusdottir (Caution) 55’

Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Referee Assistants: Matthew Kreitzer, Colin Arblaster
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Attendance: 2, 378

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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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Yellow Crush? Independence Thrash Sky Blue 4-1

Posted on 20 June 2010 by lbarker

The story-line of the night should have been Christie Rampone playing the full 90 and donning the captain’s armband in her return to Yurcak.  Instead it was two former Boston Breakers having two very different nights and one former Chicago Red Star who was left unprotected in the expansion draft delivering a breakout performance.*  Turns out Philadelphia is not only the “City of Brotherly Love,” it’s also becoming the Ellis Island of Women’s Professional Soccer, a place where the struggling, forgotten, under-appreciated and/or displaced get a second chance.**

The Philadelphia Independence came to New Jersey on Saturday to face Sky Blue FC.  At stake was sole possession of second place in the WPS standings and bragging rights in the as-yet-to-be-named derby.    The expansion Independence beat defending WPS Champions Sky Blue two weeks ago in Philly and Jersey’s team would certainly be looking for revenge.  Right?

Turns out the Independence had other plans and Sky Blue had, well, no plan.  Both teams were missing several players due to UEFA World Cup Qualifiers – for Philadelphia Holmfridur Magnusdottir (Iceland), Sara Larsson (Sweden), Lianne Sanderson (England) and Caroline Seger (Sweden) were absent and Karen Bardsley (England), Laura Kalmari (Finland), Daphne Koster (Netherlands) and Jessica Landstrom (Sweden) missed class for Sky Blue FC.  Sky Blue’s absentees left the Blue and Orange exposed, while Philly’s missing members simply gave some not-often-utilized players a chance to shine.  Danesha Adams, who came to Philadelphia via Chicago and who’d played just 29 minutes all season for the Indys coming into Saturday’s match, had a goal and two assists as Philadelphia trounced Sky Blue FC 4-1.  When Sky Blue coach Pauliina Miettinen was asked about the impact that the missing internationals had on the match her response was simple: “It shouldn’t.  It shouldn’t.  We played last game with all the missing players.  It shouldn’t.”

In just the third minute Sky Blue would get their first of only a few opportunities as Rosana fed a ball to forward Tasha Kai.  Kai’s attempt hit the side netting and the Independence quickly countered.  In the fifth minute Philadelphia forward Amy Rodriguez sent a ball across the box, which Danesha Adams was able to put past Sky Blue ‘keeper Kristin Luckenbill to give the Independence a 1-0 lead.  Luckenbill was making her first appearance for the New Jersey side in place of recently named All-Star starting ‘keeper Karen Bardsley.

It took only thirteen minutes for Philadelphia to increase their lead, with the Rodriguez-Adams combination finding the back of the net again in the 18th minute.  This time the two worked in reverse, with Adams sending a ball over the Sky Blue defense to Rodriguez who beat Luckenbill for Philly’s second goal of the match.  It was Rodriguez’ third goal of the season – two more than she had in all of 2009 with the Breakers.  The Independence continued to pressure Sky Blue and in the 24th minute captain Lori Lindsey was able to carry the ball unimpeded through the midfield before taking a shot that went just wide of goal.

Although Sky Blue was unable to build much of an attack through the opening minutes, momentum [temporarily] shifted as the half wore on.  In the 26th minute Rosana played the ball to Heather O’Reilly who sent a cross into the box for Kai.  Kai was taken down in front of the goal and Rosana converted on the ensuing PK, sending a shot past Philadelphia keeper Karina LeBlanc to the upper 90.  The PK was the second in as many matches for Rosana and Sky Blue FC and the tally cut Philly’s lead in half.

Sky Blue looked to find the equalizer and nearly did in the 29th minute, as Kacey White attempted to cross the ball the to Kai who was waiting at the far post, but the Sky Blue striker was beaten to the ball by Independence goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.  And from there it was Philly’s game.

In the 29th minute Philadelphia was awarded a free kick after a foul on Adams just outside the box.  Lindsey took the kick and although her initial attempt went directly into the Sky Blue wall, she was able to collect the rebound, which she fired just over the crossbar.  In the 40th minute a sequence between Lindsey, Tina DiMartino and Heather Mitts nearly gave the Independence their third goal of the half, but the low shot was stopped by Luckenbill.

Sky Blue would get one more chance before the end of the first frame, this time with India Trotter feeding a ball to Kai in the 41st minute.  LeBlanc, who saw little action in the match, came out to take the ball away from Kai and the half ended with the Indys up 2-1.

Just ten minutes into the second half Philadelphia would increase their lead, this one care of Joanna Lohman.  Luckenbill made a save on a shot by Adams, but the Sky Blue defense failed to clear the rebound and Lohman was able to put the ball into the open net.

In the 74th minute, the Independence delivered the final blow, a goal by Tina DiMartino.  DiMartino caught Luckenbill out of position and was able to chip the ball over the former Boston Breakers ‘keeper and into the net.  For DiMartino, who came to Philly via the fiasco that was St. Louis Athletica, it was her second goal in as many matches.

A frustrated Heather O’Reilly received a yellow card in the 75th minute for contact with LeBlanc and then had the last of Sky Blue’s few chances in stoppage time, but her shot went right at LeBlanc.

“Any time you have a game like this you gotta pull together as a team, you gotta evaluate what’s going on…what you need to improve on and as long as this makes us a better team and we grow from it and we learn from it then…it’ll be a good thing” said Sky Blue newcomer Kendall Fletcher after the match.  “Obviously you never want a score like this, but as long as you take stuff from it then at least it’s not a complete loss.”

“It was flat.  It was just very flat” said Miettinen of her team’s performance.  “We can’t keep the ball.  We’re not supporting each other.  We’re playing as individuals and it’s gonna hurt us…”

*For “Breakout Performance” see: Bardsley, Karen – former backup goalkeeper and now All-Star starter Vs. Atlanta Beat

**For “struggling, forgotten, under-appreciated and/or displaced” see: Rodriguez, Amy; Buczkowski, Jen; Adams, Danesha; LeBlanc, Karina; DiMartino, Tina; Falk, Allison; Mitts, Heather; Lohman, Joanna; Lindsey, Lori

FUN FACTS

When Gina DiMartino came on for Lori Lindsey in the 81st minute, she joined older sister Tina on the field for Philadelphia – marking the first time in WPS history that two sisters have been on the field for the same team at the same time….Tina DiMartino has played two games for Philadelphia, she has scored in both…defender Kendall Fletcher made her first start for Sky Blue FC.  Fletcher was signed as a free agent after St. Louis Athletica folded and had previously appeared for SBFC as a substitute….Sky Blue FC has had a PK in each of the last two matches.  They are the only PKs in club history – Rosana has taken, and scored, on both…Goalkeeper Jenni Branam was listed on Sky Blue’s roster as available for the first time this season after suffering a knee injury in a preseason game – but did not play…Christie Rampone made her first start for Sky Blue FC this season and played the full 90 minutes – Rampone came in as a second half sub in the last two matches after returning from maternity leave….Sky Blue is 0-2-0 all-time against Philadelphia – the Independence are the only team SBFC has never beaten (either regular season or playoffs)…Sky Blue has now scored just two goals at home…Heather O’Reilly’s 75th minute yellow card was the first card of any color in her WPS career…Philadelphia’s four goals ties the record for the most goals by a team in a single game (Sky Blue and Washington played to a 4-4 draw in 2009 – the highest combined score in league history)

MATCH FACTS

Sky Blue FC (4-4-2) vs. Philadelphia Independence (5-3-2)
Saturday, June 19, 2010 — Yurcak Field

SCORING SUMMARY:
PHI: Danesha Adams 1 (Amy Rodriguez) 5′
PHI: Amy Rodriguez 3 (Danesha Adams) 18′
NJ: Rosana 2 (Penalty Kick) 28′
PHI: Joanna Lohman 2 (Danesha Adams) 56′
PHI: Tina DiMartino 2 (Unassisted) 75′

LINEUPS:

SKY BLUE FC — Kristin Luckenbill, India Trotter, Christie Rampone, Brittany Taylor, Meghan Schnur, Kacey White (Keeley Dowling, 62′), Kendall Fletcher (Angela Salem, 72′), Rosana, Yael Averbuch, Heather O’Reilly, Tasha Kai (Kiersten Dallstream, 57′)

Substitutes Not Used: Jenni Branam, Shannon Myers, Katie Schoepfer, Danielle Johnson

PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE — Karina LeBlanc, Heather Mitts, Nikki Krzysik, Allison Falk, Estelle Johnson, Joanna Lohman, Jen Buczkowski, Lori Lindsey (Gina DiMartino, 81′), Tina DiMartino, Danesha Adams (Karina Maruyama, 87′), Amy Rodriguez (Lyndsey Patterson, 78′)

Substitutes Not Used: Val Henderson, Sarah Senty

TEAM STATS:
NJ           PHI

Shots     17     21
Shots on Goal           8     10
Fouls     7     5
Offsides     2     1
Corner Kicks     2     5
Saves     6     7

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:
NJ: Heather O’Reilly (Caution) 75′

Referee: Daniel Fitzgerald
Referee Assistants: Amy Mahan, Emilie Buse
4th Official:
Attendance: 3362

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Red Stars suffer déjà vu loss to Philly

Posted on 16 May 2010 by mwkajdas

Like an ever-recurring nightmare, the Chicago Red Stars gave up an early goal for the third time in six games and spent the remainder of play Saturday evening against the Philadelphia Independence trying to find the equalizer that just wouldn’t come. Despite Coach Emma Hayes’ previous admonitions to her players about defending the first and last five minutes of each game, the Red Stars failed to clear the ball from in front of their net during Philadelphia’s opening assault. In reply, Amy Rodriguez found Joanna Lohman standing unguarded on the left side of the penalty area and, in the 6th minute of play, Lohman curled the ball around an unsuspecting Jillian Loyden to give Philadelphia all the scoring they would need for the night. Read the story on our WPS page.

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Red Stars dejected after déjà vu loss to Philly

Posted on 16 May 2010 by mwkajdas

Like an ever-recurring nightmare, the Chicago Red Stars gave up an early goal for the third time in six games and spent the remainder of play Saturday evening against the Philadelphia Independence trying to find the equalizer that just wouldn’t come. Despite Coach Emma Hayes’ previous admonitions to her players about defending the first and last five minutes of each game, the Red Stars failed to clear the ball from in front of their net during Philadelphia’s opening assault. In reply, Amy Rodriguez found Joanna Lohman standing unguarded on the left side of the penalty area and, in the 6th minute of play, Lohman curled the ball around an unsuspecting Jillian Loyden to give Philadelphia all the scoring they would need for the night.

“I just saw it at the last second,” Loyden recounted after the game. “I was kind of blocked a little bit. It was just a nice finish from the corner there.” Emma Hayes was slightly more emphatic in her assessment of those opening minutes. “I’m pissed off… They’re getting really deflated when they go behind after five minutes and then we have to climb ourselves out of the barrel. I’m more frustrated that we can’t carry out the game plan in the first period so that we can set ourselves in a good position.”

Chicago looked ready to retaliate in the 17th minute of play when Casey Nogueira passed the ball out to Karen Carney who found space on the left wing. Carney crossed to Cristiane in front of the net but her header shot ricocheted wide of the right post. They tried again in the 33rd minute when once again Nogueira passed the ball up from midfield to Carney who found Cristiane alone on goal but, this time, the offside flag shot up even as Philadelphia keeper Karina LeBlanc dove to push the ball safely out of harm’s way.

Philadelphia almost closed out the first half in style when, in extra time, former Red Star defender Nikki Krzysik sneaked a pass up the left sideline to Amy Rodriguez waiting in the Chicago penalty box. A-Rod fired a left-footed blast that deflected off Loyden’s outstretched glove and tucked itself inside the right goalpost just as the offside whistle blew and the crowd of 5645 Red Stars fans collectively exhaled in relief.

But, for the most part, the first half provided little excitement for Chicago fans, who elicited more cheers from seeing their faces displayed on the Jumbotron than from anything their heroines produced on the pitch. To stir things up in the second half, Emma Hayes brought Kosovare Asllani into the game at halftime in place of Megan Rapinoe. “I want the players to do a certain thing in order to get the ball out wide, and Pinoe kept drifting in,” Hayes explained about the substitution. “Megan Rapinoe wants to do everything to help her team but sometimes, by losing discipline and coming out of position and coming into areas where I don’t want you to come, that makes it hard for the team. And that’s why sometimes, by taking it on their own back to solve situations, it’s actually more harmful to the team than just carrying out your role and staying in your own wide area which we asked her to do. She’s disappointed but Megan’s a good pro and she’ll work out of that in training this week.”

The substitution provided a little déjà vu of its own as, six minutes into the half, Asllani collided with LeBlanc and came up holding her ribs. Asllani missed the last two games after she cracked a rib during a collision with Karen Bardsley just two minutes into the previous home stand against Sky Blue FC. As in that encounter, Asllani played for the rest of the game but we’ll still have to wait and see if history repeats itself on her ribcage.

This was the first time that Chicago has played against one of the two new WPS expansion clubs but ironically, it was the Red Stars who looked like the neophyte team. After continuing for another twenty minutes to lob long passes to nowhere in an attempt to outflank Larsson and Falk—Philadelphia’s self-proclaimed “Twin Towers” of defense—Hayes decided to go big herself and brought in the taller Jessica McDonald to replace Cristiane on the front line. “It was important to stretch them a little bit and make room to run behind them,” Hayes revealed. “I think Cristiane got a great deal of time and Jess came in to put them under a bit of pressure and she had one good moment from a set piece to use her aerial capability.”

But the move produced little else and, in the 78th minute, Natalie Spilger was pulled for Ella Masar in a last-ditch attempt to add striking power and score a goal. “We went from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and that generated a little more attack,” Hayes explained. “We put Karen Carney in the central position and that, I think, suited the team.”

But Philadelphia countered five minutes later, bringing in defender Sarah Senty to replace forward Lianne Sanderson in order to beef up their defense and protect their one-goal lead. The dueling substitutions came to a head in the 86th minute when Karen Carney launched a pass over the engorged Philadelphia back line but Ella Masar, positioned in front of the net, was unable to lift her leg up onto the ball.

“Our game plan tonight was to come out and really get a good early start and put them under pressure and make it difficult for them but, once again, we failed to do that and I take full responsibility for that,” Emma Hayes summed up the game afterward. “Because this lot care. They care about getting results for this team and they care about putting in performances that make their fans proud. Sometimes that doesn’t always show out… These players do care and it’s a very hurt locker room right now. They’re very upset with both their performance and the result… Take a look at their faces. It’s not for a lack or wanting to do it… You could drop a pin in (the lockerroom). It’s incredibly silent. They’re very hurt right now.”

Perhaps they might consider installing a Jumbotron.

Match Summary
Chicago Red Stars vs Philadelphia Independence
May 15, 2010 – Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Attendance: 5,645
Weather: Breezy, overcast and 54 degrees

Scoring
6’ Philadelphia: Joanna Lohman (Amy Rodriguez)

Misconduct
83’ Chicago: Formiga (yellow card)

Lineups
Chicago Red Stars:
Jillian Loyden
Marian Dalmy
Kate Markgraf
Natalie Spilger (78: Ella Masar)
Whitney Engen
Karen Carney
Katie Chapman
Formiga
Megan Rapinoe (46: Kosovare Asllani)
Cristiane (65: Jessica McDonald)
Casey Nogueira

Philadelphia Independence:
Karina LeBlanc
Heather Mitts
Sara Larsson
Allison Falk
Nikki Krzysik
Caroline Seger (72: Holmfridur Magnussdottir)
Jen Buczkowski
Lori Lindsey
Joanna Lohman
Lianne Sanderson (82: Sarah Senty)
Amy Rodriguez (87: Danesha Adams)

Officials
Referee: Tony Crush
Asst Referees: Matthew Kreitzer, Greg Dopka
4th Official: Jorge Cuate

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The WPS.ASN forum: For you, by you

Posted on 02 May 2010 by ASN Staff

For some time we have been looking for a way to implement forum functionality into this site. It appears we finally have a winner. The brand new WPS.ASN forum does not require separate registration. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Yahoo! username (and seriously who doesn’t nowadays) you are IN and can start posting! This doesn’t mean the forum isn’t moderated however (spammers beware). Obviously hate speech and threats of violence or other intimidation are not tolerated either.

The forum does not integrate comments posted to the site. Those remain a separate entity. Which is fine because it creates a church/state separation between the site’s proprietary content (and responses thereto) and topics that readers and fans are interested in discussing among themselves.

So go ahead and check it out!

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Notes from WPS Commisioner Antonucci’s Kick-Off Week Conference Call

Posted on 09 April 2010 by lbarker

WPS held its “State of the League” conference call Wednesday as part of WPS Kick-Off Week.  Commissioner Tonya Antonucci spoke to members of the media about where the league stands as it heads into year two.  Antonucci emphasized that the league is working tirelessly to make WPS long-lasting and sustainable.  “Through all the hard work, the off-season adjustments and the last minute preparations, we head into this upcoming weekend and the entire 2010 WPS Season with a sense of optimism, a sense of purpose and a sense that we laid a solid foundation in 2009 upon which we can grow” Commissioner Antonucci said.  She pointed to the two new expansion teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta, the new stadium in Atlanta, FC Gold Pride’s relocation to the East Bay, changes to the schedule including the move of the All-Star Game to mid-season and the longer season, and an increase in the number of countries represented through international players as reasons for said optimism.

Antonucci was equally optimistic about the business side of things, pointing to a 20% increase in season ticket sales, an 150% increase in local sponsorships, the addition of Citi as a founding partner and back-of-jersey sponsor league-wide, and the fact that four of the eight teams have jersey-front sponsors – an increase from just two teams with jersey-front sponsorships in ’09.

Some other points from the call:

  • 2009 saw an average attendance of 4,600 – hopes are for a 5-10% increase.
  • WPS is debuting “Defend Your Turf,” an interactive marketing campaign – in NJ, Chicago, and Washington, DC.
  • The league is looking to add as many as two new teams for 2011, on track with the goal of 12 by ’12.  The focus is the Rockies and west, including bringing a team back to Los Angeles – Antonucci stated that they have at least two interested potential ownership groups for LA 2011 (The Northwest, Dallas, San Diego and Denver were also named as possibilities for expansion).
  • The feeling is that there is a deep enough player pool to support expansion and expansion announcements could be made some time between July and September.
  • Although it varies slightly by franchise, on average the hope is for teams to break even around year five.
  • FSC ‘WPS Sunday’ games will be streamed on WPS website; in addition teams will stream a minimum of two home games online.
  • WPS is working with FSC to increase their international broadcast footprint.
  • “Metrics are trending in the right direction, despite the loss of a team.”  This was Commissioner Antonucci’s answer when asked about the stigma that the loss of the Sol might create.  The Commish was quick to point out that LA was an unfortunate, but isolated incident and that the other eight ownership groups are indeed committed.
  • WPS plans to do its part to honor the World Cup this summer – the league tried to schedule around WC matches, there are plans for viewing parties organized by teams and a hope to tie World Cup festivities in with the WPS All-Star Game.
  • WPS will at some point be announcing a cross-marketing campaign between the league and US Soccer/The USWNT.  Commissioner Antonucci praised US Soccer for what’s been done already to cross-promote, including mentions of players’ WPS clubs during USWNT broadcasts.

With Boston heading to DC on Saturday and FCGP at St. Louis, Atlanta at Philly, and Chicago at SBFC (live on FSC, 6pm ET) on Sunday we’re set to kick of 2010 with the first four-game weekend in WPS history.  For my closing remarks, I yield to WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci: “WPS is a super league of amazing stars ready for the mainstream. Ultimately, they are our biggest assets – athletes who have worked their whole lives at their craft simply out of passion for the game, who are incredible role models, heroes and entertainers for everyone both young and old.  They are athletes who do not come to the field with a sense of entitlement, but rather a sense of community. These are athletes that all fans can relate to.”

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WPS signs Citi as back shirt sponsor

Posted on 12 March 2010 by ASN Staff

Women’s Professional Soccer today, March 12, announced that Citigroup Inc. had signed on as a founding partner for the league. PUMA was a founding partner during the WPS inaugural Season. “Citi recognizes and supports the opportunities that WPS has created for female athletes and women’s soccer players over the past two years and looks forward to continuing to support the growth of youth soccer in communities around the country,” WPS said in its announcement.

As a result of the deal, Citi’s logo will be placed on the backs of all the team uniforms below the numbers, the first-ever national jersey partnership for WPS.

“Given our global reach, Citi is thrilled to contribute to the growth of the world’s most popular game here in the United States,” said Mark Ingall, Citi Managing Director, Global Strategic Media. “More and more Americans, including millions of women and girls, play and follow the game. This partnership will be an effective platform to attract and retain customers, including young women and families in local communities across the country. We are very pleased to support these tremendous athletes and their passionate fans.”

“We are proud to welcome Citi into the WPS family,” said WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. “Our national partners are so vital to the growth of our league and helping spread the message that women’s professional soccer is a world class product that is here for everyone to enjoy in the long term.”

An update from the business side

The league also released information about ticket sales and sponsorships as part of the announcement. Season ticket sales for the six returning teams are up 17% on the whole compared to this time last year — with three of the six teams returning from the 2009 season tracking double their season tickets sold at this same period one year ago. The league has already seen an increase in overall sponsorships from 2009, and is projecting that four of eight teams will feature a jersey partnership this season with logos on the front of their uniforms – a two-fold increase on last year.

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Full 2010 schedule announced

Posted on 18 February 2010 by ASN Staff

Women’s Professional Soccer unveiled its 2010 WPS season schedule Feb. 18, along with Fox Soccer Channel’s WPS Sunday on FSC nationally-televised broadcast schedule.

In 2010, WPS will expand to a 24-game regular season schedule in which each of the eight WPS teams will host 12 home games and play the other seven teams in the league three or four times each based mostly on regional rivalries. Opening weekend will include a full slate of four games on April 10-11 – the first time four WPS games will be played on one weekend – with a regular season of 96 total games running through Sunday, September 12. WPS will take a break on the weekend of May 22 for national team commitments and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying games. Games are mostly featured on Saturday and Sunday evenings with 12 midweek games scheduled on Wednesday nights starting in early June.

The national television schedule on Fox Soccer Channel will kick off at 6pm ET on Sunday, April 11 with 2009 WPS Champion Sky Blue FC taking on the Chicago Red Stars at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. All eight WPS teams will be shown during the first month of the season and seven of the eight WPS venues will be featured on television in the first nine weeks of the regular season. Other television highlights for WPS Sunday on FSC include:

* Four-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta, debuting with her new team, FC Gold Pride (Bay Area), during a special Saturday, May 1 timeslot at 6pm ET against Sky Blue FC.
* The national television debut of WPS expansion team Philadelphia Independence, as they travel to Boston to take on the Boston Breakers at 6pm ET on April 18.
* The opening of the first-ever stadium built specifically for a WPS team with the Atlanta Beat hosting Sky Blue FC on Sunday, May 9 in their home opener.
* San Francisco Bay Area’s FC Gold Pride hosting their first national television game at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of California State University, East Bay on June 27.
* A new mid-season WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard on June 30.
* Open dates on September 5 and 12 will be flex television games in order to broadcast match-ups with playoff implications.

The WPS Playoffs will follow the same format used during the WPS Inaugural Season with the No. 3 seed hosting the No. 4 on Sunday, September 19 at 2pm ET/11am PT in the WPS First Round featured nationally on Fox Sports Net. The No. 2 seed will host the winner of the WPS First Round on September 22/23 in the WPS Super Semifinal on Fox Soccer Channel. As the No. 1 seed, the winner of the regular season will play host to the winner of the Super Semifinal in the 2010 WPS Championship on September 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT, broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Net. Seedings will be based on the final 2010 WPS Regular Season standings in a single, eight-team table.

2010 WPS Season Schedule

Subject to change // home team listed first // all kick-off times listed in EST// Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) and Fox Sports Net (FSN)

Week 1
Saturday, April 10
Washington Freedom vs Boston Breakers 7pm

Sunday, April 11
Saint Louis Athletica vs FC Gold Pride 4pm
Philadelphia Independence vs Atlanta Beat 6pm
Sky Blue FC vs Chicago Red Stars 6pm (FSC)

Week 2
Saturday, April 17
Chicago Red Stars vs Saint Louis Athletica 8pm
FC Gold Pride vs Sky Blue FC 10pm

Sunday, April 18
Washington Freedom vs Atlanta Beat 4pm
Boston Breakers vs Philadelphia Independence 6pm (FSC)

Week 3
Saturday, April 24
FC Gold Pride vs Atlanta Beat 10pm

Sunday, April 25
Philadelphia Independence vs Washington Freedom 6pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Boston Breakers 6pm (FSC)
Chicago Red Stars vs Sky Blue FC 6pm

Week 4
Saturday, May 1
Boston Breakers vs Chicago Red Stars 6pm
Sky Blue FC vs FC Gold Pride 6pm (FSC)
Philadelphia Independence vs Atlanta Beat 6pm
Washington Freedom vs Saint Louis Athletica TBD

Week 5
Saturday, May 8
Washington Freedom vs Boston Breakers 7pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Philadelphia Independence 8:10pm
FC Gold Pride vs Chicago Red Stars 10pm

Sunday, May 9
Atlanta Beat vs Sky Blue FC 7pm (FSC)

Week 6

Friday, May 14
Boston Breakers vs FC Gold Pride 7:30pm

Saturday, May 15
Chicago Red Stars vs Philadelphia Independence 7pm

Sunday, May 16
Saint Louis Athletica vs Sky Blue FC 4pm
Atlanta Beat vs Washington Freedom 6pm (FSC)

Week 7
Saturday, May 29
Atlanta Beat vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm
Sky Blue FC vs Boston Breakers 7pm
Chicago Red Stars vs FC Gold Pride 8pm

Sunday, May 30
Washington Freedom vs Philadelphia Independence 6pm (FSC)

Week 8
Saturday, June 5
Boston Breakers vs Saint Louis Athletica 6pm
FC Gold Pride vs Washington Freedom 10pm

Sunday, June 6
Philadelphia Independence vs Sky Blue FC 6pm
Chicago Red Stars vs Atlanta Beat 6pm (FSC)

Week 9
Wednesday, June 9
Saint Louis Athletica vs FC Gold Pride 8:10pm

Saturday, June 12
Saint Louis Athletica vs Atlanta Beat 5:45pm
Washington Freedom vs Chicago Red Stars 7pm

Sunday, June 13
Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC 4pm
Philadelphia Independence vs FC Gold Pride 6pm (FSC)

Week 10

Saturday, June 19
Sky Blue FC vs Philadelphia Independence 7pm
Atlanta Beat vs Chicago Red Stars 7pm
FC Gold Pride vs Boston Breakers 10pm

Sunday, June 20
Saint Louis Athletica vs Washington Freedom 6pm (FSC)

Week 11
Wednesday, June 23
Atlanta Beat vs Philadelphia Independence 7:30pm

Friday, June 25
Boston Breakers vs Chicago Red Stars 7:30pm

Saturday, June 26
Philadelphia Independence vs Washington Freedom 6pm

Sunday, June 27
FC Gold Pride vs Saint Louis Athletica 6pm (FSC)

WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard
Wednesday, June 30 TBD (FSC)

Week 12
Saturday, July 3
Atlanta Beat vs FC Gold Pride 7pm

Sunday, July 4
Philadelphia Independence vs Boston Breakers 4pm
Washington Freedom vs Sky Blue FC 6pm

Week 13
Wednesday, July 7
Sky Blue FC vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm
Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Freedom 8:30pm

Saturday, July 10
Chicago Red Stars vs Philadelphia Independence 7pm
Washington Freedom vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm

Sunday, July 11
Boston Breakers vs Atlanta Beat 4pm
FC Gold Pride vs Sky Blue FC 6pm (FSC)

Week 14
Saturday, July 17
FC Gold Pride vs Philadelphia Independence 10pm

Sunday, July 18
Boston Breakers vs Washington Freedom 5pm (FSC)
Sky Blue FC vs Atlanta Beat 7pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Chicago Red Stars 8:10pm

Week 15
Wednesday, July 21
Boston Breakers vs FC Gold Pride 7pm
Atlanta Beat vs Chicago Red Stars 7:30pm

Saturday, July 24
Philadelphia Independence vs Sky Blue FC 6pm
Washington Freedom vs FC Gold Pride 7pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Atlanta Beat 8:10pm

Sunday, July 25
Chicago Red Stars vs Boston Breakers 4pm

Week 16
Wednesday, July 28
Sky Blue FC vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm

Saturday, July 31
Boston Breakers vs Philadelphia Independence 6pm

Sunday, Aug. 1
Atlanta Beat vs Washington Freedom 5pm (FSC)
Sky Blue FC vs Chicago Red Stars 7pm

Week 17
Wednesday, Aug. 4
Washington Freedom vs Philadelphia Independence 7:30pm

Saturday, Aug. 7
Atlanta Beat vs Boston Breakers 7pm
FC Gold Pride vs Chicago Red Stars 10pm

Sunday, Aug. 8
Philadelphia Independence vs Saint Louis Athletica 7:30pm (FSC)

Week 18
Wednesday, Aug. 11
Sky Blue FC vs Washington Freedom 7pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Boston Breakers 8:10pm
Chicago Red Stars vs Atlanta Beat 8:30pm

Saturday, Aug. 14
Atlanta Beat vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm
FC Gold Pride vs Washington Freedom 10pm

Sunday, Aug. 15
Philadelphia Independence vs Chicago Red Stars 6pm
Boston Breakers vs Sky Blue FC 6pm (FSC)

Week 19
Saturday, Aug. 21
Boston Breakers vs Atlanta Beat TBD

Sunday, Aug. 22
Sky Blue FC vs Philadelphia Independence 4pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Washington Freedom 4pm
Chicago Red Stars vs FC Gold Pride 6pm (FSC)

Week 20
Saturday, Aug. 28
Atlanta Beat vs FC Gold Pride 7pm
Washington Freedom vs Sky Blue FC 7pm
Saint Louis Athletica vs Chicago Red Stars 8:10pm

Sunday, Aug. 29
Philadelphia Independence vs Boston Breakers 6pm (FSC)

Week 21
Wednesday, Sept. 1
Sky Blue FC vs FC Gold Pride 7pm

Sunday, Sept. 5 (FSC Flex TV Date)
Atlanta Beat vs Sky Blue FC TBD
FC Gold Pride vs Boston Breakers TBD
Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Freedom TBD
Philadelphia Independence vs Saint Louis Athletica 6pm

Week 22
Saturday, Sept. 11
FC Gold Pride vs Philadelphia Independence TBD
Chicago Red Stars vs Saint Louis Athletica 7pm
Sky Blue FC vs Boston Breakers 7pm

Sunday, Sept. 12 (FSC Flex TV Date)
Washington Freedom vs Atlanta Beat TBD

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