By DAN LAULETTA
The Breakers, Red Stars, and FC Gold Pride will host their home openers this weekend while the Atlanta Beat continue a lengthy road trip while awaiting the opening of their new stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia on May 9.
Defending champion Sky Blue FC is heading west to take on FC Gold Pride, while expansion Atlanta Beat continues its early-season road trip with a visit to Boston to take on the Breakers.
Here is a rundown of the Week 2 action in WPS:
Saint Louis Athletica @ Chicago Red Stars
The Midwest Melee returns with the Red Stars opening up Toyota Park and trying to reverse what was a lack of finishing touch in their opening night loss to Sky Blue FC. There is no rain expected, a welcome change from a year ago when the Red Stars opened in monsoon conditions.
Last year a Lindsay Tarpley goal for the Red Stars spoiled the home opener for Athletica. Tarpley now plays for Saint Louis, but has yet to see the field following off-season knee surgery. Meanwhile the player for which she was traded, Jillian Loyden, makes her first home start for the Red Stars.
Sky Blue FC @ FC Gold Pride
The new-look backline of Sky Blue FC helped shut out the Red Stars in Week 1 while the new-look FC Gold Pride failed to score a goal in St Louis. Will both trends continue in Gold Pride’s home opener or will Marta add to the three goals she scored against Sky Blue mo ’09? As good as Sky Blue’s defense is, it is not overly fast at the moment and that could be trouble against Marta and Tiffeny Milbrett.
If Gold Pride decides to do their attacking wide as in their first match it will be an interesting test for Sky Blue outside backs Keeley Dowling and Meghan Schnur. Dowling had her hands full with Kosovare Asllani last week and Schnur was outstanding on the left side. Gold Pride have still managed to score as many as two goals only three times.
Philadelphia Independence @ Boston Breakers (FSC, 6pm EDT)
The expansion Independence will set off to Boston in search of their first goal against a Breakers club whose confidence ought to be sky high after beating the Freedom to start the season.
Amy Rodriguez will return to Harvard Stadium, the sight of so many near-misses during a rough rookie season that saw her consistently pulled from games and benched for the team’s pivotal final road trip.
The Independence will welcome Allison Falk into their lineup one week after serving a suspension and coach Paul Riley is looking for an upgrade at right back where another former Breaker, Heather Mitts, is battling a hip injury. The Breakers will be looking for another quick start. In Washington they were 2-0 up before 20 minutes were played.
Atlanta Beat @ Washington Freedom
The last time teams of these names squared off it was seven years ago in Founders Cup III which turned out to be the final WUSA match ever played. Abby Wambach beat Briana Scurry for a golden goal to give the Freedom the title that afternoon in San Diego.
Wambach is back with the Freedom and Scurry is there too, albeit it as the backup goalkeeper, and head coach Jim Gabarra never left, building a top W-League club in the interim.
The Beat are a new expansion team this year looking for their first goal and win. 19-year old Ramona Bachmann missed the season-opening trip to Philadelphia with the flu and is hoping to make her WPS debut in this one.