The race for that final playoff spot only intensified this WPS weekend but no one seems to want it. The Washington Freedom, Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars all failed to seize their opportunities midweek. Meanwhile, all-but-official regular season champions FC Gold Pride have seemingly chosen to adjust their title run to a title walk as they earned their third straight goalless draw. But second place Philadelphia Independence and third place Boston Breakers look as if they want to pounce on FC Gold Pride’s lethargy. The pair will take their winning streaks into the remaining three weeks of the regular season.
Saturday: FC Gold Pride 0, Washington Freedom 0
A win in this one would have put Washington in firm consideration for a playoff spot. The Freedom had earned a hard-fought draw against Sky Blue FC on Wednesday and were looking to continue on a three-game unbeaten run. They Freedom did just that but were unable to come away with the three critical points. FC Gold Pride have really taken their foot off the pedal but rookie Kelley O’Hara has been the Bay Area side’s most active player. She fluffed a shot taken from outside the 18-yard box in the 6’ and had another dangerous opportunity in the 88’ when Marta found her alone in the box but again was unable to convert.
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Sunday: Philadelphia Independence 3, Atlanta Beat 2
Both Jekyll and Hyde appeared in place of the Atlanta Beat last night. The Beat is probably better than what their last place standing suggests but the team always seems to lose the plot when it matters. Case in point last night. The Beat took an early 2-0 lead over a formidable Independence team. Danish winger Johanna Rasmussen scored yet another early goal for the Beat. USWNT midfielder Lori Chalupny then tallied her first Beat goal as she coolly beat Independence goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc in the 18’. Then it all went wrong. Independence rookie Tina DiMartino had her way with Atlanta goalkeeper Hope Solo as she put two past her in the 44’ and the 60’. Philadelphia then took advantage of the shell-shocked Beat ‘keeper and Joanna Lohman scored the game-winner in the 81’. Nippy USWNT forward Amy Rodriguez provided the assist.
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Sunday: Boston Breakers 4, Sky Blue FC 0
6,021 Breakers fans turned up to see their team in what be their last home game at Harvard Stadium of the regular season. That’s the second-highest gate receipt of the 2010 season and the attendees were not to be disappointed. Boston continued their winning ways as they demolished the demoralized New Jersey side. Sky Blue FC made the fatal error of leaving Boston rookie Lauren Cheney unmarked in the box and the UCLA striker made them pay in the 18’ with a bullet header. In the 41’ rookie revelation Jordan Angeli made conjured up what appeared to be the WPS goal of the week as she chipped an effort off the turn up and above Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jenni Branam in the 41’. Then in the 49’ Breakers forward Lindsay Tarpley scored her first goal as a Breaker as she converted a rebounded shot. Then in the 80’ Spanish international Laura del Rio pulled a rabbit out a hat and dispatched a rocket shot into the upper left corner of the net. It was a fitting end for a fantastic showing from Boston.
What To Look Out For
There’s just one midweek match this week and naturally, it’s a significant one. Just one point separates the fourth place Washington Freedom from the sixth place Chicago Red Stars. A win for either side will vault them into playoff position. Both sides have underperformed as of late but each are looking to turn a new page. And what better time to do it.
Stunning: Tina DiMartino/Philadelphia Independence. The UCLA rookie helped herself to a brace last night, giving Philadelphia the comeback victory. This also seals Philadelphia’s fate in the playoffs.
Shocking: Hope Solo/Atlanta Beat. The Atlanta Beat has now lost three in a row and Atlanta’s goalkeeper is complicit in this. Including that fateful game away to Boston which spurred Solo’s Twitter outburst two weeks ago, Solo has now conceded six goals in three matches, seemingly damning the Beat to a last place finish.
Streaking: Boston Breakers. Since going nine games without a win, the Boston Breakers have now lost just once in its previous nine games. It’s an incredible feat for a team that was thought to be dead and buried.
Sputtering: FC Gold Pride. For a team that once looked like it could never stop scoring, FC Gold Pride have now gone 271 without a goal.
Stinging: Leslie Osborne/Boston Breakers. Boston’s inspirational holding midfielder got the brunt of Sky Blue FC’s frustration last night. A brutal takedown from Italian international Patrizia Panico reportedly left Osborne with a separated shoulder and left Panico with a mere yellow card.