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WPS Extra Time: How to silence the critics

Giovanni Albanese Extra Time

How exactly do you take the focus off all the negativity? In the case of magicJack, their only attempt at silencing the string of critics — myself being smack dab in the front of that proverbial line — is to win. Nothing more will suffice; that still may not be enough.

Say what you want about the match a week ago at Western New York against the Flash, but magicJack was ultimately dominated on the scoreboard, 3-0, essentially hitting rock bottom, what with all the controversy from the front office (if there is even an office to speak of). They returned to their home field at FAU Soccer Field — the ultimate home-field advantage — and placed a hurting on the Atlanta Beat to the tune of a 4-0 clip.

It was a perfect rebound effort on May 28, netting two goals in each half, and running away with the win. MagicJack was led by the one player who they need to lead them if they expect to advance deep into Women’s Professional Soccer’s playoffs. That woman, of course, is Abby Wambach.

Wambach was clinical in her precision, putting in three goals on the night — all of the unassisted variety. She got the scoring started in the ninth minute, getting behind the Beat defense and putting in a shot past Allison Lipsher. Sarah Huffman made it 2-nil in the 12th minute and Wambach put in goals in the 64th and 89th minutes to finish the scoring.

MagicJack applied the pressure for the entire match, taking 16 shots, 10 on target. Meanwhile, the defense only allowed four Beat shots, and none that were on frame, giving Hope Solo an easy clean sheet.

Next up for Wambach and Solo — along with backup keeper Jill Loyden, midfielder Shannon Boxx and defenders Christie Rampone and Becky Sauerbrunn — is preparation for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Reserves will have to be able to hold the fort for the vets, who went off with a stellar tune-up match (Boxx and Loyden were not used in the match).

At least for one week, attention came off magicJack’s problems and went on the field where, believe it or not, the club is not too bad — even without a real coach nor any fans; only 864 people were in attendance to watch.

Things to look for this week

It’s now time to see who has the most depth in WPS. There are four weeks of matches prior to the two-week World Cup hiatus. When play resumes on July 6 — just after World Cup group play — presumably many of the WPS players will still be gone. All the players will return to WPS at the conclusion of the Cup on July 17.

We’ll all get a glimpse into the non-World Cup players of WPS this weekend, featuring the FOX Soccer match-up of the aforementioned magicJack going to Cambridge, Mass., to take on the Boston Breakers at Harvard Stadium this Sunday at 6 p.m. Also in action is Western New York, looking to stay unbeaten, hosting Sky Blue FC on Friday night at 7:30; and Philadelphia hosts Atlanta on Saturday, kicking off at 7 p.m.

Power Rankings

1. Western New York Flash

2. magicJack

3. Philadelphia Independence

4. Sky Blue FC

5. Boston Breakers

6. Atlanta Beat

Player of the Week

You score a trifecta of goals, there is no looking past that for player of the week honors. MagicJack’s Abby Wambach put in her second, third and fourth goals of the season — a fine tune-up just prior to heading to Germany for the FIFA Women’s World Cup — to lead her club to a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Beat.

Quote of the Week

“They are both fantastic individuals as locker room personalities, and they have this never say die attitude which I think can help us a lot.” Atlanta Beat coach James Galanis mused after acquiring Kelly Parker and Julianne Sitch from Western New York in a trade on May 26 for a first and second round pick in the 2012 WPS Draft.


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