Sky Blue FC
2009: 7-8-5, 26 pts.; fourth place regular season (2009 WPS Champions)
Coach: Pauliina Miettinen
Key Players: Heather O’Reilly, Yael Averbuch, Christie Rampone, Carli Lloyd, Natasha Kai, Rosana, Anita Asante, Meghan Schnur
Star Watch: Um, is there really one star on this team? The answer is obviously no, but one to watch might Rosana, who has been overshadowed by all of this commotion in New Jersey. The Brazilian was one of Sky Blue FC’s best players down the stretch in 2009 and will look to continue that in 2010.
X-Factor: Yael Averbuch – Averbuch is primed for a breakout season and should emerge as a young leader of this team. With the attention that Carli Lloyd, Natasha Kai and Heather O’Reilly are going to get, Averbuch should have the freedom to do well. Plus, playing with those kind of players will only make her better.
In all honesty, Sky Blue FC is loaded with talent. In truth, it is almost hard to fathom just how many superstars have assembled in the Garden State. There are nine players that have been with the U.S or at least gotten looks from Pia Sundhage in the past year, on top of international studs such as Anita Asante and Jessica Landström.
Sky Blue FC’s 2009 playoff run to a title overshadowed an up-and-down season that saw the team part ways with two different coaches before Christie Rampone took the team on her back as player/coach. This year, however, the defending champions are the odds-on favorites to defend their title based on talent alone. If this team, which resembles something of an all-star team, does not at least find its way to the final, some serious questions will have to be asked. The key will be getting all of these players on the pitch at the same time and getting accustomed to Head Coach Pauliina Miettinen. Sundhage should be smart about calling international friendlies during the WPS season, but the CONCACAF 2011 Women’s World Cup schedule still is not out and Asante (knee surgery) and Rampone (pregnancy) will miss the beginning of the 2010 season. Goalkeeper Jenni Branam will also miss the first two months, creating some goalkeeping questions. Still, great things are expected in New Jersey.
Check out the full roster here. It is mind-blowing.
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