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.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. augusto Says:

    a single woman show, a marta show. Who ever else can run,past and sticht an cut impossible paths thru three and sometimes four defenders and still create repeated goal chances. Up to a point where the opponents breath
    with relief as the ref blows his final whitstle?

  2. augusto Says:

    a single woman show, a marta show. Who ever else can run,past and sticht an cut impossible paths thru three and sometimes four defenders and still create repeated goal chances. Up to a point where the opponents breath
    with relief as the ref blows his final whitstle?

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