2010 WPS Expansion Team
Coach: Gareth O’Sullivan
Key Players: Tobin Heath, Ramona Bachmann, Leigh Ann Robinson, Mami Yamaguchi, Angie Kerr
Star Watch: Tobin Heath – The No. 1-overall draft pick has see very little action in the preseason after suffering from a month-long stomach illness and it appears that the beginning of her professional career will be effected by it. There will be a lot of eyes on Heath when she does step onto the field.
X-Factor: Ramona Bachmann – Whether or not the Swiss striker’s success carries over into WPS will be critical to Atlanta’s success.
In truth, Tobin Heath is the player in Atlanta that everyone is talking about because she is the most high-profile player on the team. Beat Head Coach Gareth O’Sullivan has brought in a lot of international players that have done well in other leagues, such as Mami Yamaguchi, Johanna Rasmussen and Ramona Bachmann. However, much of this talent is unproven in Women’s Professional Soccer, and even several domestic players such as goalkeeper Allison Whitworth are relatively untested in WPS.
In a league filled with superstars, Atlanta looks to have a team full of role players outside the likes of Heath and a select few. That could play out to the Beat’s advantage as O’Sullivan looks to build team chemistry, with unsung work horses like Angie Kerr,McCall Zerboni and Kia McNeill fitting perfectly into such an atmosphere. The world-class women’s soccer specific stadium that the team will be playing in should also create a spectacular home field advantage. It is tough to truthfully say that Atlanta has one of the best rosters in the league with so many players that have not seen the field in WPS yet, but the Beat could put together a decent season if things play out how O’Sullivan and company would like. Saturday’s preseason 2-1 win over Saint Louis Athletica capped off a successful preseason in which the Beat went 6-1.
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