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The Equalizer 2011 WPS Predictions

WPS kicks-off on Saturday, although it seems like just yesterday that FC Gold Pride beat the Philadelphia Independence 4-0 in the WPS Championship.  With season three now upon us, the staff here at The Equalizer takes a shot at predicting the wildly unpredictable WPS season.  Dan Lauletta, Tim Grainey, Giovanni Albanese Jr., Nell Rodriguez and Jeff Kassouf all submitted their predictions for how the WPS standings will look at the end of the regular season.  The votes have been compiled and, as expected, there is a consensus about which team will be at the top and which team will finish at the bottom.  Everything else seems to be a toss-up.

Below are the compiled rankings of all five predictions put together.  Each member of the staff submitted table predictions.  A first place vote counts for six points, a second place vote for five points and all the way down to a sixth place vote being worth just one point.  Here are the combined rankings with comments, followed by a look at how each person voted:

  1. Philadelphia Independence (29 points)

    “With the exception of Amy Rodriguez and Nicole Barnhart the rest of the Independence roster should be available throughout the season.  That consistency plus Head Coach Paul Riley’s aggressive style and willingness to tinker with his lineup from week to week makes them the pick to lift the trophy come August.” – Dan Lauletta

    “Val Henderson is a No. 1 in Paul Riley’s book anyway, so the absence of Nicole Barnhart means little.  Losing Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez to U.S. duty also won’t hurt with the likes of Veronica Boquete and Christina DiMartino.  An improved back line will be together the whole season, which is what the Independence needs to improve on its 2010 runners-up finish.” – Jeff Kassouf

  2. Western New York Flash (24 points)

    “Alex Morgan should be Rookie of the Year, linking well with Marta up front the way then rookie Kelly O’Hara did last year at Gold Pride. The Flash should earn a second consecutive league crown, to go with their 2010 W-League title.” – Tim Grainey

    “With the majority of the key players from last year’s champion, FC Gold Pride — Marta, Christine Sinclair, Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson, etc. — on the expansion club, I don’t see how you can’t have them to start at No. 1. Plus, they have the world’s best player.” – Giovanni Albanese Jr.”The Flash could stand to have eight players headed to the Women’s World Cup and while some, such as Ali Riley, will barely miss any WPS action, the Canadian and U.S. player could miss significant time.  That could bring some adversity to the Flash.” – Jeff Kassouf


  3. Boston Breakers (16 points)

    “With Amy LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler in the back, Leslie Osborne in the midfield, and throw in the likes of Jordan Angeli, Lauren Cheney, Alex Scott and Kelly Smith …scary.” – Giovanni Albanese Jr.

    “Head Coach Tony DiCicco has a stable roster but he might just have stayed too pat for too long and the team could struggle with complacency. Another slow start could spell the end of DiCicco’s reign in Beantown.” – Tim Grainey”The Breakers are absolutely the best team on paper but will be the hardest hit by any interruptions created by the US National Team.  They have far and away the best back line in WPS, but all four of them – Alex Scott, Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, and Stephanie Cox – are scheduled to go to Germany this summer.  If they all come home healthy and fit this is the team to beat come playoff time regardless of where they finish.” – Dan Lauletta

  4. magicJack (15 points)

    “While other teams will have to deal with U.S. internationals being gone all week and flying up the East Coast for weekend matches, magicJack players will practically be in the same town as their team even when they are training with the U.S.  That should allow Shannon Boxx, Christie Rampone, Hope Solo and Abby Wambach to leave their mark.” – Jeff Kassouf

    “Talented? Yes.  Good team? No one knows.  The erstwhile Washington Freedom have a talented roster but the combination of National Team call-ups plus the air of uncertainty surrounding the entire organization makes it impossible to pick them any higher than this.  I’d like to see them prove me wrong.” – Dan Lauletta”The dream team turns into a nightmare as owner Dan Borislow’s squad plays before crowds smaller than your average everyday U-15 match. A blatant disregard to promotion combined with the league’s smallest stadium in the back of beyond (Boca Raton—really?) translates to no publicity, no crowds, no atmosphere and no passion from his U.S. international loaded team. Will they return in 2012? Who cares as long as they finish 2011 and WPS can expand for 2012. The team’s legacy may be the unique product branding of the team—that’s okay but the product of women’s soccer seems to have been lost in the process.” – Tim Grainey

  5. Sky Blue FC (14 points)

    “All they need is health and they will be fine. One thing’s for sure, there won’t be any all-star break season-ending injuries.” – Giovanni Albanese Jr.”Sky Blue might not have enough depth to repeat their 2009 title success but they should easily capture a playoff spot and could rival Western New York for the team scoring lead in WPS.” – Tim Grainey”It’s hard to believe, but 19 months after being crowned the inaugural WPS champions, only Heather O’Reilly, Jenni Branam, and Karen Bardsley remain from the 2009 squad (a fourth, Anita Asante, is back after playing elsewhere in 2010.) and Branam and Bardsley are both goalkeepers.  Given the proper time Gabarra will get them where they need to go, but this does not appear to be the year it happens.” – Dan Lauletta

  6. Atlanta Beat (7 points)

    “Many have selected the Beat to finish last again in 2011 but I think they will make the playoffs. What can I say–I believe in James Galanis. He has a plan and a vision and though seen as having the league’s least “recognized” roster, Galanis has quietly been building a quality squad.” – Tim Grainey

    “While the Atlanta Beat seem to be making strides toward being more competitive than first thought, it is still tough to see this team earning a playoff spot.  Atlanta could sneak into the final spot if things really go right (the team hits a hot streak while other teams are crippled by international call-ups), but it seems unlikely.  If WPS survives, this could be a good squad in two years’ time.” – Jeff Kassouf

How We Voted –

Jeff Kassouf:

  1. Philadelphia Independence
  2. magicJack
  3. Western New York Flash
  4. Sky Blue FC
  5. Boston Breakers
  6. Atlanta Beat

Dan Lauletta:

  1. Philadelphia Independence
  2. Boston Breakers
  3. Western New York Flash
  4. magicJack
  5. Sky Blue FC
  6. Atlanta Beat

Tim Grainey:

  1. Philadelphia Independence
  2. Western New York Flash
  3. Sky Blue FC
  4. Atlanta Beat
  5. Boston Breakers
  6. magicJack

Giovanni Albanese Jr.:

  1. Western New York Flash
  2. Philadelphia Independence
  3. Boston Breakers
  4. Sky Blue FC
  5. magicJack
  6. Atlanta Beat

Nell Enriquez:

  1. Philadelphia Independence
  2. Western New York Flash
  3. magicJack
  4. Boston Breakers
  5. Sky Blue FC
  6. Atlanta Beat

With

Amy LePeilbet and Rachel Buehler in the back, Leslie Osborne in the midfield, and

throw in the likes of Jordan Angeli, Lauren Cheney, Alex Scott and Kelly Smith …

scary.

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