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WPS Monday Kick-Around: All-stars and internationals

Yes, it’s Tuesday, not Monday.  Forgive me, but there is this little World Cup taking place in South Africa.

This week it is time to get straight down to business.  Everyone knows how the weekend’s results went in Women’s Professional Soccer, so in order to not repeat those, check out the scores and match reports here:

Chicago Red Stars 2-2 Washington Freedom

Sky Blue FC 2-1 Boston Breakers

FC Gold Pride 3-1 Philadelphia Independence

Well, touching on those just a little bit:

Chicago is now on a three game unbeaten run after a dramatic comeback to tie the Freedom 2-2.  Cristiane scored both goals, but Casey Nogueira inserted life into the squad and assisted on Cristiane’s second goal.  Anita Asante was inserted into the midfield as a second half substitute, which is interesting given her status as one of the league’s best defenders last season.  Natalie Spilger was red carded for violent conduct toward Freedom forward Abby Wambach, although video evidence is yet to surface.

The Boston Breakers lost to Sky Blue FC on a 90th minute penalty kick created by Lauren Cheney’s tackle.  Cheney has been less than spectacular for weeks and the insertion of newly acquired Lindsay Tarpley does not seem to have helped.  Boston is yet to win at home and has not won a game since the April 10 season opener at Washington.  Things look a bit grim in Bean Town.

Despite a 3-1 loss, Philadelphia looked good in the first half Sunday.  Heather Mitts and Tina DiMartino combined well on the right side of Philly’s attack and exposed FC Gold Pride left back Kristen Graczyk on several occasions.  However, the story of the day was, yet again, Marta.  Caroline Seger ended up playing even while being listed as “out,” but Allison Falk went down with a knee injury that Head Coach Paul Riley speculated might cause problems in the back for his team.  Falk went down in the 24th minute when she got tangled up with Shannon Boxx.

“It’s not good.  Not good,” Riley said.  “Larsson is going away too this week so we lose Larsson as well.  So if we lost both of them we would be in serious trouble I would think at the back.”

Players on the outside looking in of the All-Star Game:

Check out the All-Star reserve players named Monday.  Who do you think belongs and does not belong?

  • Ali Riley, FC Gold Pride defender – Riley was just honored by Oceania and has started the season out well for one of the top defenses in the league.
  • Kandace Wilson, FC Gold Pride defender – She might be listed as a forward, but she has been stellar as the outside back opposite Riley.
  • Leslie Osborne, Boston Breakers midfielder – Yes, Boston is struggling, but I have been impressed with Osborne’s ability to control the middle of the park – not on an entirely consistent basis, but a solid one.
  • Allie Long, Washington Freedom midfielder – Long may have her faults, but she has scored some of the best goals of the year thus far.  She’s not at this level yet, but it is a talking point if only from the perspective of scoring some glamorous goals.
  • Tiffeny Milbrett, FC Gold Pride forward – Speaking of great goals, Milbrett had one a few weeks ago and continues to impress even as one of the older players in the league.  Like Kristine Lilly, Milbrett seems to defy age and time.
  • Heather Mitts, Philadelphia Independence defender – If she wasn’t battling injuries through the early part of this season, she would have surely been in the mix for Atlanta.

In all honesty, I am not sure that any of these players should have cracked into the All-Star Game, because I actually think it is already being stretched too thin.  While I love the pick ’em format of the All-Star Game, 36 players being selected to the game seems to be a bit much.  Most of the starters are very deserving, but comparatively, the reserves certainly drop off a level (at least based on 2010 performances).  That is an over-generalization since some (Kelley O’Hara in particular) were on my list of all-stars, but it may be a bit much to have 36 all-stars in a league with only seven teams.

FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya will be in charge of one of Marta’s hand-picked team at the match and he was quick to praise those around him for that honor.

“I’m honored and I really have to thank our team and our coaching staff because without them I wouldn’t have had a shot at it,” Montoya said.  “I mean, it’s a team so it’s hard when you just pick one person.  The first thing I want to do is take my coaching staff.  But, no it’s an honor and I can’t wait.”

Gone Abroad

As mentioned by Riley, Larsson, of course, will be missing for Philadelphia’s next two games due to Sweden’s World Cup Qualifying matches.  Those will hit all WPS teams pretty hard as European players head over to play qualifiers.  With the Women’s World Cup fast approaching, WPS must figure out how to deal with losing a large base of players for Germany 2011.  Read my thoughts on that here.

Camille Abily is one of those players that will be away with France.  She started her first match since returning from injury Sunday and put in a solid 62 minutes of work.

“It was a little hard because I need to work a little more,” Abily said.  “But I was so glad to play with the team and I’d like to do the best that I can and we won so it’s very good.”


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