Photo by ISIphotos.com
By CHRISTA MANN
Week three of Women's Professional Soccer is set to kick off on Saturday with three intriguing match-ups. The Boston Breakers host the St. Louis Athletica , the Washington Freedom comes off a bye to host the Chicago Red Stars and FC Gold Pride(Bay Area) travels to a winless Sky Blue FC (NY/NJ). The undefeated L.A. Sol has this week's bye.
First up is the St. Louis/Boston clash, which features two teams that lost their season openers. If Boston starts Kelly Smith and if the Breaker’s back-line works out some organizational issues, they should come away with a good result. If St. Louis can keep its shots on frame and look to expose Mitts on the left side, the Athletica could also come away with the win. It should be a battle of two relatively equal teams, but both need to improve from opening day performances to earn a spot in the middle of the pack.
Next-up, the league’s only televised match-up of the weekend showcases the Chicago Red Stars at the Washington Freedom (Fox Soccer Channel, 6pm). Expect strong play out of Washington as it works to redeem that 2-0 opening loss in L.A. Also look for the Freedom’s back-line to shut down through-balls and play smarter defense than it did vs. the Sol. Scurry really needs to keep her back-line in check early on to prevent set pieces and to win the aerial battle.
Against the Sol, It was disappointing that Washington failed to utilize its strongest weapon in Abby Wambach. My guess is that De Vana, the Australian, takes the starting spot from Zimmeck this week because the Aussie contributed to a few more attacking opportunities. —–
Washington definitely has a lot more to prove in this game, but Chicago still has to maintain its stride. Edging out St. Louis last week, 1-0, the Red Stars must come away with a win to solidify their ability to win consistently on the road.
In the final game in this third week of competition, Gold Pride looks to build on last week’s 2-1 win over Boston while the Sky Blue (NY/NJ) looks to find its first win. Tiffany Wiemar’s creativity and Eriko Arakawa's target play could potentially put Sky Blue on its heels. Past results aside, this match-up could go either way. The Bay Area gave-up eight corners against Boston and got away with some lucky no calls near and inside their own penalty area. In fact, there was at least one questionable play in which FCGP defender Rachael Buehler came in a little late or missed the ball completely. If she doesn’t get away with those this week, look for Natasha Kai to finish off any dangerous chances and to lead Sky Blue to a home-opening win.
Who do you see prevailing in this weekend's match-ups? Can Chicago keep it going? Will Sky Blue find the net? Share your thoughts below.