he WPS regular season is officially over and the WPS All-Star Game roster is now finalized with the seven at-large selections by Commissioner Tonya Antonucci and LA Sol and All-Star Team Head Coach Abner Rogers. Between the 18-woman roster and the five players voted as starters that have been replaced due to the 2009 European Championships, a total of 23 players can call themselves All-Stars in this inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer.
The WPS squad will take on Swedish powerhouse Umeå IK in Saint Louis on August 30, but there are still many high-quality players out there who will not be making the trip to the Gateway City that may have been selected as all-stars if the game featured two all-WPS teams.
Logistically, it makes sense for the league to have one team playing an international opponent, similar to how Major League Soccer has run its mid-summer showcase since 2003. With only seven teams in the league, having two teams of 18 players play each other in the All-Star Game would mean that some less deserving, average players might lay claim to being all-stars. The last thing the league would want is to have almost one quarter of the players be all-stars. It would take away the credibility of the game and would overshadow some of the true standout players of the season.
While it’s hard to say there are any significant snubs from the stellar 18 player roster that will represent Women’s Professional Soccer at the end of the month, there are certainly some high-quality players that have been left on the outside looking in. They may not have made the First XI, replacement slots, or have been granted an at-large bid by Antonucci or Rogers, but the following players have earned the honor of making the The Equalizer’s Second XI.
These are players that have had good seasons but may have gone under the radar or just needed to have a few more great games to make it to the big show. Surely, they would be happy to line up against the current First XI for the WPS All-Star Game. How do you think this team would fare against the current First XI? Share your thoughts by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, the Second XI will be playing a transitional 5-4-1 into a 4-4-2 for its formation. I just couldn’t cut back on these five defenders, so going forward into this attack, the likes of Becky Sauerbrunn and Stephanie Cox would become more of flank midfielders. Or, maybe the ever-versatile Brittany Bock could push up to forward.
Goalkeeper: Caroline Jönsson, Chicago Red Stars – It was very tempting to put Allison Lipsher in goal for this team with a goals against average of .58, but she split the season with Kristin Luckenbill (who knows why?). Jönsson was stellar in goal for an average Red Stars team, putting up four shutouts and a 1.25 GAA while playing every minute for Chicago.
Defender: Becky Sauerbrunn, Washington Freedom – Sauerbrunn possesses the necessary work ethic and offensive abilities to give the Freedom an extra threat out on the right flank when she overlaps. She only has one goal to her name this season, but is a big part of Washington building its attack from the back.
Defender: Rachel Buehler, FC Gold Pride – I, as others, have been somewhat critical of Buehler, but she has done well with a struggling FC Gold Pride team. She goes somewhat unnoticed out there, but what defender gets as much credit as she should? Buehler could surely hold together the Second XI’s back line.
Defender/Forward: Brittany Bock, Los Angeles Sol – This was a toss-up between Bock and teammate Allison Falk, but Bock is versatile enough to play forward and give this squad an extra attacker when needed. The former Notre Dame standout did well in the back for LA and added two goals on top of her defensive efforts. She’ll be one of the x-factors in this lineup as she pushes forward. Where she plays would depend on how the game goes and what formation might be needed.
Defender: Anita Asante, Sky Blue FC – Asante has quietly had a solid, consistent season at center back for Sky Blue FC. Unfortunately for her, she is always going to be overshadowed on her own defensive line by the likes of U.S. standout Christie Rampone. Sky Blue FC may have had some iffy defensive performances (4-4 draw at home with Washington on July 15), but the English international has been a key part of the squad that somehow overcame adversity to get into the playoffs.
Defender: Stephanie Cox, Los Angeles Sol – Cox is yet another great player that gets lost in the sea of all-stars in Los Angeles, but she is a big part of why Karina LeBlanc had such a great season. Like Sauerbrunn, she is another outside back that can get forward into the attack, something that sets her above the rest of the pack.
Midfielder: Lori Lindsey, Washington Freedom – Lindsey has done well for Washington as a holding center midfielder, a position that gets very little credit in the boxscore. She holds the ball up well and still finds a way to get into the attack and combine with strikers Abby Wambach and Lisa De Vanna.
Midfielder: Rosana, Sky Blue FC – After seeing her play live twice in the past week, I was reminded of just how magical the Brazilian midfielder is on the ball. Her goal against the Freedom on Saturday was easily one of the best of the season – a beautifully placed shot to the upper 90 after a long solo run – and her footskills truly are a treat to watch. Could you imagine Rosana going up against First XI replacement selection and fellow Brazilian Formiga in an all-star game? Then factor in Cristiane and Marta on that First XI and you would have a free footskills clinic going on in Saint Louis.
Midfielder: Angela Hucles, Boston Breakers – This Boston and U.S. Women’s National Team standout did well in the midfield for Boston this season. She only found the back of the net twice, but her efforts were overshadowed by Kelly Smith, Kristine Lilly, and even more marketable names like Heather Mitts.
Midfielder: Kacey White, Sky Blue FC – In 19 games, White registered three goals and utilized her exceptional speed to deceive defenders across the league. Statistically, she does not match up to teammate Natasha Kai, but Kai completely underperformed this season even while leading the team in goals. White, meanwhile came out of nowhere to be a nice addition for Sky Blue FC.
Forward: Lisa De Vanna, Washington Freedom – De Vanna is one of the fastest players in the league and tallied six goals and five assists while teamming up with Wambach up front. White can overlap her to create one of the fastest combinations imaginable on the attack.
Honorable Mention: Daniela, Saint Louis Athletica – Up until she broke her leg against the Freedom on May 3, Daniela was developing into one of the most exciting players to watch in WPS. It’s unfortunate, but I know we all wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her in this showcase next year.
Head Coach: Jorge Barcellos, Saint Louis Athletica – Barcellos led Athletica to a second place finish and could just be on the verge of a championship. He is only two wins away from glory.
For those who will surely scream about their favorite player being snubbed from even the Second XI, here is a list of players that just missed the cut: Goalkeeper Allison Lipsher, Boston Breakers; Defender Allison Falk, Los Angeles; Midfielder Leslie Osborne, FC Gold Pride; Midfielder Homare Sawa, Washington Freedom; Midfielder Aly Wagner, Los Angeles Sol; Forward Lindsay Tarpley, Chicago Red Stars; Forward Christie Welsh, Saint Louis Athletica; Forward Rebecca Moros, Washington Freedom.Below is the full (and real) roster of 18 players that will represent Women’s Professional Soccer against Umea IK on August 30.WPS All-Star Team StartersName Position – Team CountryKarina LeBlanc GK – Los Angeles Sol CanadaTina Ellertson D – Saint Louis Athletica United StatesAmy LePeilbet D – Boston Breakers United StatesChristie Rampone D – Sky Blue FC United States*Formiga M – FC Gold Pride Brazil*Aya Miyama M – Los Angeles Sol Japan*Shannon Boxx M – Los Angeles Sol United StatesLori Chalupny M – Saint Louis Athletica United StatesMegan Rapinoe M – Chicago Red Stars United States*Cristiane F – Chicago Red Stars Brazil*Marta F – Los Angeles Sol Brazil*next highest vote-getter to replace First XIWPS All-Star Team At-Large Selections (Commissioner/All-Star Team Head Coach) Name Position – Team CountryBrittany Klein M – Chicago Red Stars United StatesKristine Lilly F- Boston Breakers United StatesHeather O’Reilly M – Sky Blue FC United StatesChristine Sinclair F – FC Gold Pride CanadaHope Solo GK – Saint Louis Athletica United StatesAbby Wambach F – Washington Freedom United StatesCat Whitehill D – Washington Freedom United StatesThe five players who were replaced due to international duty: Alex Scott (D, Boston Breakers), Kelly Smith (M, Boston Breakers), Camille Abily (M, Los Angeles Sol), Eniola Aluko (F, Saint Louis Athletica) and Sonia Bompastor (M, Washington Freedom).
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