Tag Archive | "Sky Blue FC"

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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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Gold Pride get Marta, Boxx to Saint Louis

Posted on 04 February 2010 by ASN Staff

Marta upends Carli Lloyd in a match last season

Women’s Professional Soccer held its dispersal draft Feb. 4 for players’ rights previously held by the Los Angeles Sol, whose operations were discontinued Jan. 28.

Saint Louis Athletica, which traded several players to the Atlanta Beat to gain the first pick in the dispersal draft used its selection to draft WPS All-Star Shannon Boxx, the Sol’s captain and one of the world’s best holding midfielders. With the second selection, the Philadelphia Independence then selected goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who led the league in shutouts in 2009 with 12 clean sheets.

The San Francisco Bay Area team, FC Gold Pride, then selected Marta, WPS’s Michelle Akers Player of the Year last year, with the third pick. Marta was a 2009 WPS All-Star, led the league with 10 goals and was voted FIFA World Player of the Year in December for a record fourth time.

Other first round selections in the dispersal draft included two first round selections from the 2010 WPS Draft (college draft) with North Carolina’s Casey Nogueira and Nikki Washington going to the Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC, respectively. The Boston Breakers picked up veteran defender Stephanie Cox with the fifth pick, while the Washington Freedom grabbed one of last year’s top rookies, Brittany Bock with the seventh selection. Closing out the first round, Saint Louis Athletica picked up another WPS All-Star and midfielder Aya Miyama.

Several trades took place in the second round with the Bay Area’s FC Gold Pride trading up to the 13th slot to select forward Kiki Bosio, giving Chicago Red Stars their 14th selection in the dispersal draft and the FC Gold Pride’s 2nd round selection in the 2011 WPS Draft. The Red Stars then traded away that 14th selection to Saint Louis for the Athletica’s 2nd round selection in the 2011 WPS Draft. The Athletica used the 14th selection to pick up midfielder Tina DiMartino. Several teams passed on their selections in the third round.

[polldaddy poll=2649105]

WPS Dispersal Draft (player rights held by the Los Angeles Sol)

Round 1
1. Shannon Boxx, M – Saint Louis Athletica *
2. Karina LeBlanc, GK – Philadelphia Independence
3. Marta, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
4. Casey Nogueira, F – Chicago Red Stars
5. Stephanie Cox, D – Boston Breakers
6. Nikki Washington, M – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
7. Brittany Bock, D – Washington Freedom
8. Aya Miyama, M – Saint Louis Athletica

Round 2

9. Manya Makoski, M – Atlanta Beat
10. Faith Ikidi, D/F – Washington Freedom
11. Kiersten Dallstream, F – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
12. Michelle Enyeart, F – Boston Breakers
13. Kiki Bosio, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) ^
14. Tina DiMartino, M – Saint Louis Athletica #
15. Estelle Johnson, D – Philadelphia Independence
16. Pavlina Scasna, F – Atlanta Beat

Round 3
17. Pass – Atlanta Beat
18. Pass – Philadelphia Independence
19. Lindsay Browne, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
20. Pass – Chicago Red Stars
21. Pass – Boston Breakers
22. Pass – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
23. Pass – Washington Freedom
24. Catherine Sorenson, M – Saint Louis Athletica

* via trade with Atlanta Beat (trade prior to draft)
^ via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives FC Gold Pride’s 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)
# via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives Saint Louis Athletica’s 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)

NOTE: Mary Casey, GK, is now a free agent; Midfielder Julie Rydahl Bukh’s WPS rights have been released.

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WPS announces 2010 schedule dates

Posted on 02 February 2010 by ASN Staff

Women’s Professional Soccer has finalized the dates of its 2010 WPS Season schedule. This year, the league will expand from a 20-game regular season schedule played in 2009 to a 24-game schedule in which each of the eight WPS teams will feature 12 home games and play the other seven teams in the league three or four times each. 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 the regular season running through Sunday, Sept. 12. Games will be played mostly on Saturday evenings and Sundays with a limited schedule of midweek games to be played during the summer months which are expected to start in mid-June. WPS will take a break on the weekend of May 22 for national team commitments and 2011 Women’s World Cup qualifying games.

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, Sept. 19 at 2pm ET/11am PT in the WPS First Round. The No. 2 seed will host the winner of the WPS First Round on Sept. 22/23 in the WPS Super Semifinal. The winner of the regular season will play host to the winner of the Super Semifinal as the No. 1 seed in the 2010 WPS Championship on September 26 at 2pm ET/11am PT. Seedings will be based on the final 2010 WPS Regular Season standings in a single, eight-team table.

The 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by the U.S. Coast Guard has been moved to mid-season to fall in line with other professional leagues and is scheduled for June 30. The location and format will be announced at a later date.

The full 2010 WPS Season Schedule and Fox Soccer Channel’s WPS Sunday on FSC national broadcast schedule will be released in mid-February.

2010 WPS Regular Season – Key Dates

Try-outs Begin: March 1
Preseason Camp Officially Opens (Preseason Rosters/Schedule Announced): March 7
Roster Cut-Down Date (rosters reduced from 28 to 24 players): March 15
Opening Roster Due Date (18 roster + 4 optional development players): March 31
Regular Season Begins: April 10/11
Bye Weekend (no WPS games): May 22
2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard: June 30
Regular Season Ends: September 12

WPS Playoffs

WPS First Round: Sunday, September 19 (2pm ET/11am PT)
WPS Super Semifinal: Wed/Thu, September 22/23
2010 WPS Championship:
Sunday, September 26 (2pm ET/11am PT)

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2010 WPS kits unveiled (updated with video and photo gallery)

Posted on 19 January 2010 by ASN Staff

Friday night in Philadelphia, PUMA and Women’s Professional Soccer unveiled the new 2010 WPS Home and Away Uniforms, including the official kit debut of the newest franchises, the Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence. The launch event, which took place hours after the 2010 WPS Draft, highlighted veteran players from the league’s nine teams as well as newly drafted professional players who proudly wore their team colors for the first time.

Click here to go directly to the photo gallery.

Video follows below:

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2010 WPS kits unveiled at post draft event (updated with video and photo gallery)

Posted on 19 January 2010 by ASN Staff

Friday night in Philadelphia, PUMA and Women’s Professional Soccer unveiled the new 2010 WPS Home and Away Uniforms, including the official kit debut of the newest franchises, the Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence. The launch event, which took place hours after the 2010 WPS Draft, highlighted veteran players from the league’s nine teams as well as newly drafted professional players who proudly wore their team colors for the first time.

Created as the ultimate PUMA & WPS Fan experience, hundreds of soccer fans joined the sportlifestyle brand to kick off the second WPS season – preseason pep rally style. Hosted by Los Angeles Sol goalkeeper and PUMA Athlete Karina Le Blanc, the evening’s festivities reinforced the brand’s commitment to women, the sport of soccer and the fans who love the players and the game.

Women representing the teams included:

· Atlanta Beat: Leigh Ann Robinson, Defender and Tobin Heath, #1 draft pick for WPS 2010
· Boston Breakers: Leslie Osborne, Midfielder & PUMA Athlete and Lauren Cheney
· Chicago Red Stars: Ella Masar, Forward and Whitney Engen
· FC Gold Pride: Tiffeny Milbrett, Forward and Kelley O’Hara
· Los Angeles Sol: Manya Makoski, Defender and Casey Nogueira
· Philadelphia Independence: Amy Rodriguez, Forward & PUMA Athlete and Caroline Seger
· Sky Blue FC: Yael Averbuch, Midfielder and Brittany Taylor
· St Louis Athletica: Kendall Fletcher, Defender and Angie Kerr, Midfielder
· Washington Freedom: Cat Whitehill, Defender and Nikki Marshall

Photo Gallery


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The state of Sky Blue FC, its offseason and 2010 WPS draft

Posted on 16 January 2010 by lbarker

Jen Buczkowski (#4) was lost to the expansion draft but Kacey White (#20) and Heather O'Reilly (#9) will be back for the defending champs

Another new coach, Finland’s Pauliina Miettinen, the arrival of Carli Lloyd from the Chicago Red Stars, new defenders, surgery to Natasha Kai, the team’s top scorer from 2009…Sky Blue FC, here celebrating its triumph last season, have been busy–and that was before the WPS draft Friday evening. ASN’s Lauren Barker takes an in-depth look at the team’s needs entering the draft and how it addressed them through its picks.

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The state of Sky Blue FC, its offseason and 2010 WPS draft

Posted on 16 January 2010 by lbarker

The 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer draft took place at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, PA on Friday, Jan. 15. New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, the defending WPS champions, made a lot of noise early in the off-season, but have been relatively quiet in the weeks leading up to the draft.

But, before we get to which college stars will be donning the blue and orange in 2010, let’s take a look at Sky Blue FC prior to the draft.

Jen Buczkowski (#4) was lost to the expansion draft but Kacey White (#20) and Heather O'Reilly (#9) will be back for the defending champs

First, Sky Blue has a new coach, again. The coaching carousel of 2009 saw original head coach Ian Sawyers suspended and then fired. The next to go-round was Sawyer’s assistant, Kelly Lindsey. Lindsey became the interim head coach, then dropped the “interim” tag, then dropped the “coach” tag, unexpectedly resigning with just two games remaining in the season. Finally, Christie Rampone took a spin, as player-coach (also captain, central defender, and she was pregnant with her second child!) and led SBFC to the championship. After lifting the trophy, captaining and playing all 90 minutes in the WPS All-Star Game, and claiming the WPS Sportswoman of the Year award, Rampone officially “retired” from coaching. In the offseason Sky Blue tapped Pauliina Miettinen, a former Finnish National Team player who most recently coached PK-35 in Finland, to take a ride. Miettinen is one of two female head coaches in WPS (Chicago’s Emma Hayes is the other). So with the coaching situation [hopefully] resolved, let’s take a look at the important stuff – who’s going to be representing the Garden State on the pitch in 2010.

The champs will return 13 players from the 2009 season. The goalkeeping duo of California natives Jenni Branam and Karen Bardsley will be back in 2010 and Sky Blue’s midfield is shaping up to be one of the best in the league. Although the team lost three international midfielders during the offseason (Kelly Parker, Colette McCallum, and Francielle), Sky Blue signed NJ native Carli Lloyd, who spent 2009 with Chicago and now boasts a midfield with four U.S. National Team members (Yael Averbuch, Kacey White, Heather O’Reilly, and Lloyd).

Sky Blue’s defense and goalkeeping was solid in ’09; the team allowed just 20 goals in 20 games, tied with the Boston Breakers for third in the league. Branam and the back line of Jen Buczkowski, Meghan Schnur, Keeley Dowling, and Christie Rampone shut down Marta and the Los Angeles Sol’s attack in the championship game, but only Branam, Dowling and Schnur will be available when Sky Blue starts the season. Central defender/captain/2009 player-coach Rampone will miss the beginning of the season on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child, fellow center back and English National Team player Anita Asante will be out as she recovers from ACL surgery, and Buczkowski was picked up by the Philadelphia Independence in the expansion draft. Sky Blue also didn’t re-sign defender Julianne Sitch (later signed by Chicago). The team did sign a pair of defenders in October; Dutch National team captain Daphne Koster and Ashleigh Gunning, who last played for Sky Blue’s W-League affiliate, Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues.

On the offensive end, Sky Blue scored just 19 goals in 20 games. Forward Natasha Kai, who struggled with injuries to both shoulders for much of the season, led the team with six goals. Rosana, White, Kerri Hanks, O’Reilly, and Sitch were the only other players to find the back of the net for Sky Blue in the inaugural season, and Sky Blue General Manager Gerry Marrone has said that he feels the team needs help offensively in 2010. Kai has had surgery to repair both shoulders, and of the players that scored in 2009, only Sitch won’t be returning. Forwards Noelle Keselica, Mele French, Katie Hooker, and Lauren Sesselmann also won’t be back. Keselica, who made five appearances for Sky Blue in 2009, was taken by Atlanta in the expansion draft. French, Hooker and Sesselmann were declared free agents after the season. Sky Blue added a pair of offensive threats in early December with the signings of two international forwards, Finnish striker Laura Kalmari and Sweden’s 5’11” Jessica Landström.

Sky Blue’s needs are filling the defensive holes, adding some firepower up front, and adding depth, well, everywhere. The depth factor may actually be the most important, 13 of the 17 players on Sky Blue’s roster coming into the draft are national team members, representing six different countries (England, Brazil, Sweden, Finland, Holland, and the US). With the 2011 World Cup quickly approaching, international call-ups could become a huge problem for the Jersey club. And with that, let’s get to the draft!

Sky Blue’s first pick in the first round, sixth overall: Brittany Taylor from the University of Connecticut. Like Ashleigh Gunning, Taylor has played for Quickstrike Lady Blues. A versatile player, the Campbell Hall, NY native has experience at forward, in the midfield, and on defense. She twice earned the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award (2007, 2009) and was a four-time All-Big East first team selection. Taylor was also named to the 2009 NSCAA Women’s Division I All-American third team. The 5’8″ Taylor made 86 appearances for UCONN, scoring 18 goals and tallying nine assists. Nine of her 18 goals were game-winners, including the lone score in UCONN’s 1-0 victory over Boston University in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament. She’ll join fellow Husky Meghan Schnur on Sky Blue’s back line and at US National Team camp later this month. (Carli Lloyd, Yael Averbuch, and Heather O’Reilly will also represent SBFC – that’s five Sky Blue players in this camp for those keeping track.) Look for Taylor to help fill some of those defensive holes in 2010.

To round two we go…

Move along, folks, nothing to see here. Sky Blue traded their second round pick to St. Louis Athletica back in June, as part of the deal that sent Australian international Sarah Walsh to STL and brought Kerri Hanks and Brazilian international Francielle to New Jersey.

Sky Blue had two picks in the third round. First, with the 26th overall choice, Waterford, Connecticut native Katie Schoepfer. Schoepfer was a forward at Penn State and netted 48 goals for the Nittany Lions. She was a 2009 M.A.C. Hermann Semi-Finalist, 2007 NSCAA second team All-American, 2006 Big Ten All-Freshman selection, and the 2007 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Look for the 5’8″ Schoepfer to compliment 5’8″ Natasha Kai and 5’8″ Rosana on Sky Blue’s front line (I’m sensing a theme here).

Sky Blue’s second third-round pick was received in a June trade with the Los Angeles Sol which sent Christie Shaner to the west coast – Shaner’s season ended just a week later when she broke her leg in a collision with the Washington Freedom’s Abby Wambach. Luckily Shaner’s bad fortune didn’t nullify the deal. Sky Blue used the 29th overall pick to add some depth to the midfield, picking up Louisiana State University’s Melissa Clarke. Clarke is a Norcross, GA native and three-time All-SEC second team selection (2009, 2008, 2005). She played 91 games for LSU, that’s more than any other player in the school’s history, and of those 91 appearances 88 were starts. Clarke put up 20 assists for the Tigers, and had 213 shots, 91 on goal, and 25 goals during her time in Louisiana. The 5’3″ Clarke played an attacking midfield role at LSU and with the emphasis on more scoring in 2010, Clarke could come off the bench to make some contributions to Sky Blue’s offense as well as fill some holes that will undoubtedly be left in the midfield due to national team call-ups.

With the sixth pick of the fourth round, 35th overall, the Jersey team stayed in the southeast, selecting University of Mississippi defender Danielle Johnson. Johnson is a Baton Rouge, LA native who started all 81 games she played for Ole’ Miss. The 5’5″ Johnson had 9 assists and 11 goals during her time as a Rebel and was an SEC All-Freshman team (2006) and four-time All-SEC team selection (2nd team-2006, 1st team-2007, 2008, 2009). Johnson will join fellow Baton Rouge native Ashleigh Gunning on Sky Blue’s back line, and could also make some offensive contributions.

With just three rounds remaining and the big name players gone Sky Blue headed west for their fifth round pick, 44th overall, to select Meagan Snell. Snell is a 2008 graduate of Santa Clara University. A forward who scored 20 times and had 11 assists in 87 games played for Santa Clara, she’s spent her time since graduation playing with the California Storm of the WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League). While at Santa Clara the 5’4″ Snell, a native of Arroyo Grande, CA, was selected to the All-WCC first team (2006).

The sixth round kept Sky Blue out west, picking up University of Utah’s Kelly Isleib with the 53rd overall choice. Isleib is a 5″7″ midfielder and forward who had 28 assists and 16 goals as a Ute. A Park City, UT native, she’s a three-time All-MWC first team selection (2009, 2008, 2007) and was named MWC Co-Freshman of the Year in 2006. Isleib was Sky Blue’s final pick of the 2010 draft.

Before the seventh round Sky Blue traded away their final pick (62nd overall) to the Philadelphia Independence in exchange for Philly’s sixth round pick, Jenifer Anzivino. Anzivino was selected 49th overall by the Independence before being traded to SBFC. A midfielder/defender/forward who played for Rutgers, the Middletown, NJ native will stay close to home in 2010. The 5’8″ Anzivino played 85 games at Yurcak Field for Rutgers and will continue her career there with Sky Blue. She’s a two-time All-Big East first team selection (2009, 2008) and was selected to the 2009 NSCAA All-American second team. Anzivino had 9 assists and 9 goals on 74 shots during her time as a Scarlet Knight. She’ll join fellow New Jersey natives Carli Lloyd (also Rutgers alum), Heather O’Reilly, Yael Averbuch, and Christie Rampone on Sky Blue FC.

And that concludes the 2010 WPS Draft. Sky Blue addressed the needs they had both defensively and offensively, bringing in players like Brittany Taylor and Jenifer Anzivino who can play at any position and adding depth almost everywhere else. Taylor is a strong defender who will help fill the gaps on the back line while Christie Rampone and Anita Asante are absent. Once those players return, Taylor, along with veteran backs Meghan Schnur and Keeley Downling, new additions Ashleigh Gunning and Daphne Koster, and draftees Melissa Clarke and Danielle Johnson will provide a deep pool of players on Sky Blue’s back line. At forward and in the midfield, Sky Blue looks equally deep, bolstering an already talented attack with Katie Schoepfer, Meagan Snell, and Kelly Isleib and the trio of newly signed Carli Lloyd, Laura Kalmari and Jessica Landström.

The only place Sky Blue didn’t add a player was at goalkeeper. Jenni Branam was one of league’s best in 2009, behind only St. Louis Athletica and U.S. National Team ‘keeper (and U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year and WPS Goalkeeper of the Year) Hope Solo and Los Angeles Sol’s Canadian international Karina LeBlanc. Branam posted a 1.09 goals-against average and had six clean sheets in 18 appearances for Sky Blue. English International Karen Bardsley made just four appearances in 2009, but was equally good in net. Bardsley posted one clean sheet and allowed just two goals on ten shots. Branam’s “high risk” style – coming way off her line to make saves and cut off crosses and going for big-time challenges in the air – led to some serious collisions and she played through most of the playoffs with an injury. Combined with the fact that Bardsley is a member of the English National Team and Sky Blue’s third ‘keeper, Cori Alexander was declared a free-agent after the season, Sky Blue may need to bring in another goalkeeper, just in case. Even with a GK situation that may make some Sky Blue fans a little uneasy, the defending champs look strong heading into the second WPS season. Could New Jersey see it’s second ever professional soccer championship in 2010?

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WPS Championship photo gallery

Posted on 24 August 2009 by ASN Staff

ASN’s Craig Bennett was at Home Depot Center Saturday afternoon gathering photographic evidence of the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer championship match between Sky Blue FC and the Los Angeles Sol (read ASN’s match report here).

All photos ©ASN/Craig Bennett, 112575 Media Inc. To see more of Craig’s work check out his Web site.

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Sky Blue shock Sol, capture inaugural WPS championship

Posted on 23 August 2009 by iyeo

Turns out destiny belonged to the team that scrapped its way to the final of Women’s Professional Soccer.

While most WPS teams were reveling in the inaugural season, Sky Blue FC spent its 2009 season embroiled in turmoil, both on and off the pitch. The New York/New Jersey-based franchise waddled near the bottom of the WPS standings for a good part of the season and saw two head coaches leave the organization.

Yet, through it all, Sky Blue FC clawed its way to two road playoff victories, then pulled off the mother of all upsets, as one strike off the foot of Heather O’Reilly coupled with some gritty defense and some timely breaks enabled Sky Blue FC to claim the inaugural WPS championship over the host Los Angeles Sol 1-0 Saturday afternoon at the Home Depot Center.

Check out ASN’s photo gallery from the match and celebration afterwards
.

“I think it’s an exceptional team we have here with Sky Blue FC. I think it was a great fun for us, battling back to make it into the playoffs and winning three games in eight days,” Defender/head coach Christine Rampone said. “I think we came out strong, the adrenaline was definitely kicking with us and we went after them and had our legs.”

O’Reilly’s strike came in the 16th minute. Sky Blue defender Keeley Dowling threw in a ball into the Sol penalty are, forward Natasha Kai headed the ball to O’Reilly, who then let loose a point-blank bullet that ricocheted off Sol keeper Karina LeBlanc and glanced off the right post before clearing the goal line for the early Sky Blue advantage.

“I think the intangibles won that game for us,” O”Reilly, the WPS final MVP said.

Sky Blue found itself in an even more favorable position in the 27th minute when Kai looked to race past defender Allison Falk for a scoring chance. Falk bumped Kai as she neared the penalty area, forcing her to the ground. The foul might have been severe enough to warrant nothing more than a yellow card warning, but referee Kari Seitz instead issued a straight red card, ending Falk’s afternoon and thus forced the Sol to play a player down the rest of the match.

“I didn’t feel it was a red card, it was a poor decision,” LA Sol head coach Abner Rogers said. “it wasn’t a last defender (call) and there wasn’t a blatant tackle. It was a clumsy tackle and it was a questionable yellow.”

After being out-shot 9-1 in the first half, Los Angeles looked to quickly respond. The Sol looked to have a scoring chance when midfielder Aya Miyama collected a loose ball in the box and ended up being taken down from behind by O’Reilly, but no call was made and play went on, much to the dismay of almost all the 7,218 in attendance. Moments later, midfielder Aly Wagner floated a long ball towards goal. Defender Brittany Bock ran it down and ended up colliding with Sky Blue keeper Jenni Branam while trying to head the ball into goal. The play earned Bock a yellow card.

In the 72nd minute, midfielder Shannon Boxx launched a rocket and Branam had to dive to her left to redirect the shot out of bounds. Boxx had another chance 31 minutes later when Miyama sent a free kick towards her, but she was again denied by Branam, who this time held onto the ball, a critical point considering Lyndsey Patterson was next to Branam in position for a potential rebound.

“I’m so proud of this team. Even when we were down a man, we fought until the end and believed we could win this match,” Boxx said. “We played our hearts out and left everything we had out on the field today. You can’t ask for more from this team. Soccer is a funny game that way and today it just didn’t go our way.”

The victory caps off quite an eventful year for Sky Blue FC. After starting the season 1-4-2, head coach/general manager Ian Sawyers was fired on May 23 after it was reported differences arose between him and ownership as well as some of the players. Sawyers was replaced by assistant Kelly Lindsey, who managed to turn the team around and challenge for a playoff berth until she herself suddenly resigned on July 29 with just two games remaining in Sky Blue’s regular season Rampone was named interim player/coach.

Ironically, Sky Blue needed help from the Los Angeles Sol to defeat the Boston Breakers in the final week of the regular season to get into the playoffs, and the Sol obliged, defeating the Breakers 2-1 on August 9. Even though it celebrated a playoff berth on the sidelines, Sky Blue FC made the most of its opportunity, defeating the Washington Freedom 2-1 in the semifinal match at the Maryland Soccerplex on Aug. 15. Three days later, Sky Blue traveled to St. Louis for a matchup with the Athletica in the Super-Semifinal, and once again, Sky Blue pulled the upset, as a goal from Dowling proved to be the decider in a 1-0 win to seal its trip to Los Angeles for the final. Despite playing it’s third match in a week, Sky Blue managed to maintain the adrenaline that has enabled them to call themselves 2009 WPS championships.

“You never wish that you go through so many ups and downs that went through this season, but I think in the end it’s character building,” O’Reilly said. “I just think the fibers of this team are so close and so thick that nothing was going to break us.”

As for the Sol, it must reload from a disappointing finish to a stellar 2009 season. The Sol spent the entire inaugural WPS season in first place and the gap between them and second place peaked at 17 points. Los Angeles however stumbled at the finish, going 1-2-1 in its final four matches and ended up being outplayed by the underdogs Sky Blue in the final.

“It is disappointing to lose this game, it was our goal all season long to win the championship,” Marta said. “Soccer is a funny game sometimes and you have to deal with that. As team, though, we should be very proud for what we were able to accomplish all season long.”

This will not be the final WPS match of 2009, at least for six players who shared the field at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. Sky Blue’s O’Reilly and Rampone will join the Sol’s Marta, Boxx, Miyama and LeBlanc in the inaugural all-star game in Saint Louis on Aug 30. The WPS all-stars will face Swedish club Umea IK at the Anheuser Busch Soccer Park at 5:30 EST on Fox Soccer Channel.

Match Facts

WPS Championship Game
Aug. 22, 2009 – Carson, Calif. – The Home Depot Center
Los Angeles Sol – Sky Blue FC –0:1 (0:1)

Scoring Summary

16th minute Sky Blue FC: Heather O’Reilly (Natasha Kai)

Misconduct Summary:
LA – Allison Falk (ejection) 27’
LA – Brittany Bock (caution) 52’

Lineups
Los Angeles Sol: Karina LeBlanc; Manya Makoski, Allison Falk, Brittany Bock, Stephanie Cox; McCall Zerboni (35: Sharolta Nonen), Aly Wagner (62, Katie Larkin), Shannon Boxx ©, Aya Miyama; Han Duan (78, Lyndsey Patterson), Marta.

Sky Blue FC: Jenni Branam; Keeley Dowling©, Jenn Buczkowski, Christie Rampone©, Meghan Schnur; Heather O’Reilly© (83, Noelle Keselica), Francielle, Yael Averbuch, Kacey White; Natasha Kai (67, Kerri Hanks), Rosana (71: Collette McCallum).

Referee: Kari Seitz
SAR: Marlene Duffy
JAR: Veronica Perez
4th Official: Margaret Domka
Attendance: 7,812
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 72 degrees

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