Photo by ISIphotos.com
By CHRISTA MANN
In Women's Professional Soccer, last week's worst performing teams became this week's best finishers as two teams got over the scoring hump on a weekend of missing players and unlikely results.
In the absence players from the Brazilian,Chinese, French, and Swedish national teams this week, a couple of WPS teams found new ways to attack while a couple others simply fell apart.
With Sky Blue FC (Jersey) taking the bye week, the L.A. Sol tied scoreless to the St. Louis Athletica, the Chicago Red Stars won 4-0 over the Boston Breakers and the FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) lost 4-3 to the Washington Freedom.
In the first match of Week Five, a winless St. Louis Athletica hosted the undefeated L.A. Sol but fell just short of the upset. As the Athletica held its third straight opponent to a scoreless first half, the absence of Marta and Han Duan playmaking abilities (fulfilling roles on the Brazilian and Chinese national team respectively) kept the Sol's scoring to a minimum.
When you take Marta out of the picture, L.A. has really has no one else who can finish off the half chances. For a team that is now experiencing its first down week, at least the tie still earned the Sol one point in standings.
St. Louis will take this week as a small victory, but holding teams to a scoreless game is only half the battle. When the Athletica has a chance to take over the second half, it must find away to keep shots on frame and to put teams away. Almost never counts.
When it's number one against number seven, the 0-0 result saved L.A. from some embarrassment. But when you're a team like St. Louis, this almost upset really only counts when Marta plays and if you win.
When the Chicago Red Stars hosted the Boston Breakers, it was a game deciding which top team would overcome the other. Chicago left no unanswered questions following the 4-0 result, but Boston left people wondering, "Where is Kelly Smith?"
Despite returning in plenty of time from international competition with the English national team, Smith rode the bench for the entire game wit no explanation. Credit Boston's Amy Rodriguez for playing her best game to date, but not even A-Rod's speed comes close to Kelly Smith target play.
In the first blowout victory in league history, Karen Carney (also Smith's fellow English national teammate) played a major role in three of Chicago's four goals. After a handball set-up the a free kick just outside the box, Carney played the ball to Carli Lloyd who scored number one.Then Rapinoe went endline off a Brittany Klein pass, cut back and scored with her left to net the second. On the third, Carney basically duplicated that exact same Rapinoe play to score the third goal just three minutes before the half.
After a 3-0 halftime advantage, Carney served a ball in that Tarpley who passed to Klein for the finish in the 51st.
Both Klein and Carney finished with two assists and a goal each.
The Breakers had a some dangerous chances towards the end, but the backline and Caroline JÃ¶nsson preserved the clean sheet.
In the final game of the weekend, the Washington Freedom defeated FCGP (Bay Area) 4-3 after losing a two goal lead. Both teams had some great finishes, but the Bay Area controlled more of the possession.
Linking-up between the backs, midfielders, and forwards, FCGP's Eriko Arakawa, Tiffany Weimer and Tina DiMartino combined well early. With near FCGP chances in the 13th and 16th minutes, Washington's first goal came as a surprise all around.
When a Bay Area foul gave the Freedom a set-piece from a good distance out, Freedom defender Cat Whitehill sent a ball in the mix for Abby Wambach who jumped over the keeper to head in the finish.
The equalizer came 12 minutes later when Weimer chipped a ball into the box for Tiffeny Milbrett who chipped it over the new Freedom starting GK, Katie Jo Spisak.
Teams went into the half tied at 1-1
Six minutes after the half, Wambach assisted the Freedom's second goal with a ball in from the left flank to Lori Lindsey's head for the finish. Then, Allie Long scored the team's third goal in the 70th minute to go up 3-1.
FCGP can credit some great attacking from right back Kandace Wilson for creating the two goals that tied things up at 3-3. On a low ball across the box, Weimer put in the first before Rachael Buehler overlapped Wilson to assist Christine Sinclair goal.
In the final minute of the game, Whitehill once again set-up for the free kick and Wambach scored on play that was near identical to the first.
The Bay Area held the better part of possession in the game; however Washington finished the final goal. Without Bompastor, the Freedom's French standout midfielder, the team was still able to put away a very good FCGP.
Also important to note, Leslie Osbourne received three stitches in her head at halftime after colliding with Allie Long early in the first half.
Overall, Week Five saw the level of come out of last week's rut. It would have been nice to have a winner out of St. Louis and L.A., but 11 goals in three games isn't too bad either.
How would you rate the weekend? What were your favorite moments?
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