Photo by ISIphotos.com
By CHRISTA MANN
Week Eight in Womens Pro Soccer got off to an early start on Friday night, with the L.A. Sol beating New Jersey Sky Blue, 1-0, late on Friday night.
Marta played the role of goal-scorer again, netting the loan score against the same team she scored two against earlier in the season.
The Sol's victory marks the beginning of Week Eight as the match-ups get stronger and progressively more competitive throughout the weekend.
The FC Gold Pride and the Chicago Red Stars meet in the next match-up with both teams looking to rebound from a down last game. The Washington Freedom and Boston Breakers clash on Sunday in the best match-up of the weekend.
The Red Stars had some trouble getting into their usual rhythm against SBFC last week. After a strong 4-0 result over Boston and then a bye week to maintain some confidence, Chicago returned last week as a team that was way below its usual standard.
To overcome that poor performance, it will take some increased involvement by midfielders Carli Lloyd and Karen Carney. They are literally the center of this team and are essential to its success. It's not that they are the only players shooting or slotting the final pass; it's the simple fact that their efforts to switch the point of attack and to spring outside backs is what initiates the Chicago attack.
When even one the two has an off-game, as Lloyd did in Week Seven, Chicago forwards Megan Rapinoe and Lindsay Tarpley feel a burden to get the job done all on their own.
The Red Stars should regenerate their attack this week and utilize their strengths from the past.
For a team that deserves to be at the top of the table, consistent play, possession, and finishing will get Chicago back to the standard it set in Week Six. On the other hand, FC Gold Pride has the finishing and possession to win, but it must find the means to both hold off opponents and to recreate the combination that was so much a part of the team's earlier results.
When the Washington Freedom comes off the bye and travels to the Boston Breakers, the WPS and Fox Soccer Channel will televise the most competitive game of Week Eight at 6 P.M.
In a rematch of the 1-1 Week Three draw, both the Breakers and Freedom come into this one with a good bit of confidence.
Washington has scored seven goals over two games and Boston has taken the Goliath out of L.A. on back to back occasions. For Boston, goals are coming a little less abundantly than in recent weeks, but an exposed Freedom defense will certainly make a difference there.
A back line that allowed six goals in two games may finally add its new Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod to the starting line-up. No word for sure, but it's pretty much a consensus that both Katie Jo Spisak and veteran Briana Scurry have had a rough start in the nets for the Freedom. McLeod has only been with the team for a little over a week, but she should definitely take the field if she will help the Freedom earn a respectable result.
On another note, Washington will play without Abby Wambach who is serving her single game suspension following the Daniela incident. The Freedom should start Lisa DeVanna and either Claire Zimmeck or Kristin DeDycker up top.
But, make no mistake; the Boston defense will be prepared for the whatever Washington offense the Freedom has in store.
The strong attackers on both sides of the field will be the biggest concern in this game and it will be more so a question of whether the Washington defense can handle the Breakers' front runners.
Which match-ups are you looking forward to the most? Think the Sky Blue will have nightmares about Marta? Can the Red Stars attack put up a big number against?
Share your thoughts below.