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WPS: A look back at Week 2

Marta 1 (ISIphotos.com) 

                                                                            Photo by ISIphotos.com

The first full week of the Women's Professional Soccer League's season took place last week and the early indications are that the quality of play of the new league has fans of women's soccer thrilled.

Brazilian star Marta kept working her magic, while some new standouts emerged as well. Whether it was Eriko Arakawa for FC Gold Pride or Marian Dalmy for Chicago, or more familiar standouts such as Tiffany Milbrett and Lindsay Tarpley, WPS showed off a strong crop of talent that bodes well for the action we will see this season.

SBI's new WPS correspondent, Christa Mann, took in the action and gave us this report on week two's action:

WPS impresses in Week Two

By CHRISTA MANN

After an exciting second week of WPS action, all seven teams have finally experienced opening games in this inaugural season.
 
The one-loss Washington Freedom was on a bye in week two while the Los Angeles Sol, which defeated Washington in the inaugural WPS match, garnered another shutout to remain at the top of the league standings.
 
One major highlight from the weekend was a stellar performance by Brazilian star Marta, who netted both LA goals in Sunday’s 2-0 road victory over Sky Blue FC (NY/NJ).
 
In other action across the league, upsets revealed the clichés of women’s soccer as two strong teams experienced opening losses as an emerging crop of unknowns became the difference makers.
 
St. Louis Athletica went into its opener vs. the Chicago Red Stars considered the favorite, but failed to find the net in a 1-0 loss. St. Louis enjoyed the better of the play throughout the match, out-shooting the Red Stars 9-4, but none of those nine shots found the net for St. Louis.  On one of the few chances Chicago did have, Lindsay Tarpley ran onto a Marian Dalmy ball over the top and volleyed in the game-winner at the 78th minute.
 
To compliment this week’s element of surprise, the FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) found its way to a 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers in the league’s most exciting game to date.
 
Early on, Boston seemed a bit out of sync as there were a couple of communication mishaps between the goalkeeper and her back-line.  The Bay Area’s Japanese phenom, Eriko Arakawa, capitalized on that miscommunication to deliver the best goal of the season so far.
 
Arakawa started the play with a pass to midfield, where a quick through-ball is played into the box for a lofty near-post Tiffany Wiemer cross. Arakawa leaps for the glancing header and redirects it into the top corner in the 32nd minute.  The Breakers miss some golden opportunities in the first half but still went into halftime trailing, which led Boston head coach Tony DiCicco to shake things up in the second half by bringing on Kelly Schmedes.
 
Smith responded by scoring the equalizer in the 79th minute, but FCGP answered back with some impact substitutions of their own in Kandace Wilson and Tiffany Milbrett. The tandem paid immediate dividends as both factored in on the game-winner, with Wilson creating the chance that led to a Breakers' defensive deflection out to a wide-open Milbrett, who buries the game winner in the 89th minute.
 
Hopefully this is a sign of what is to come from more of the league. Love for the familiar names will always be there, but it is exciting to see new followings growing for the players we are meeting for the first time.
 
After the first two weeks of the season, goals like Arakawa's will set the standard as teams progress through the 2009 campaign. My bet is that with a slew of international talent, the superstars will set the bar very high, and the emerging stars will continually rise to the occasion.
 
L.A. will take a bye in week three as FC Gold Pride and Chicago look to challenge them for the top spot.

What did you think of the first full week of WPS action? Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I only saw the second half of the Breakers-Gold Pride game, but it was exciting. Nice for the home fans to see their team win, but a big bummer for Breakers fans like me.

    On Tuesday night, my wife and I got to meet the Breakers at a special event for season ticket holders. There were a lot of families in attendance, some with daughters dressed in their local soccer team kits. We all got a chance to meet the players, get their autographs, and pose for photos. I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s home opener!

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  2. I’ve watched both televised WPS games and have been mighty impressed with both the turnout and the level of play.

    See, I occasionally tuned in to WUSA games back in the day, and the problem was, I couldn’t watch them. I just couldn’t. Incredibly poor technique, errant passes, dumb mistakes… it seemed like every team had one or two good players, and everyone else was a bunch of goofy scrubs.

    This time, though, the speed of play seems much faster, everyone’s first touch is better (there was actually quite a bit of one-touch passing through the midfield… very nice), shots were harder and more accurate… both Arakawa and Smith’s goals were very nice.

    Granted, there are still plenty of bugs to be worked out, but in terms of quality of play, this seems to be a big step up from WUSA. I’m looking forward to the Boston home opener this weekend!

    Also, I’m not sure what the deal is with WPS vs MLS– in Boston, at least, the schedules are set up so there are no matchday conflicts. I’m a Revs season ticket holder already, and I haven’t committed to Breakers season tickets but I will go to at least 3 games. So no conflict here.

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  3. Ron, wow, I guess Marta made two triple stepover moves in one game. The one I was talking about resulted in a shot.And it sure did fool the defender.
    So who in the MLS can do two triple stepovers in one game?
    Oh, and she made up for it in the second game scoring two goals.

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  4. Ives i’m really glad you got a regular writer for the WPS games, thank you for that!

    Welcome Christa! i’m excited to read your continued posts! best of luck!

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  5. Gold Pride vs. Breakers, a lot of really bad play combined with some nice play. The opening half was played at such a high pace the players were clearly gassed in the 2nd half.

    There were long stretches where neither team could string together 3 passes in the midfield and some offensive forays where wide-open players went unnoticed.

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  6. I watched the FC Gold Pride game this weekend on FSC and was really suprised by the crowd turnout. A nice turnout.

    However, some of the play was terrible. A lot of very very cheap giveaways, passing the ball straight to the opposition,etc.

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  7. re: “And there is no one, absolutely no one, in the MLS that plays like Marta.

    In the first week, she was brilliant, especially her triple stepover. Who in the MLS can pull that off? ”

    You mean the triple stepover that did not fool the defender in the slightest resulting in Marta making a backpass? During the same game in which Marta went scoreless? That stepover?

    Lets not get carried away here. Marta is probably the best female player, but I suspect there are plenty of MLS players who can make ineffective stepovers and then backpass.

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  8. “In other action across the league, upsets revealed the clichés of women’s soccer as two strong teams experienced opening losses as an emerging crop of unknowns became the difference makers.”

    “revealed the cliches”? What is that supposed to mean?

    Reply
  9. #1. St. Louis was NOT the favorite in their game, they honestly only have Hope Solo as a super star, Lori is a good player, but is a good support player like Lily has been all her career. Chicago was the favorite even without Cristiane. They have solid players all over and a good bench.

    #2. Boston were the clear favorites going into the league…look at their offense. A-Rod, Lily, Hucles, Kelly Smith..

    ………………………………SURPRISING…the WORST PERFORMANCE OF THE WPS SO FAR……………………………………Heather Mitts of the Boston Breakers……………………………… She was moved to left back by Tony D. You could tell she was uncomfortable on the left as she has a very weak left foot, but obviously better than Alex Scott’s. On several occasions FCGP Right Back, Uni of San Diego standout, Leigh Ann Robinson got into the attack and beat Mitts to put in some nice crosses….but that wasn’t it….Heather Mitts got beat on both FCP Goals…Tiffany Weimer Cross and Kandace Wilson leaving Mitts in her dust.

    Could there have been a worse performance? In week one? No…but this one stood out and was on TV.

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  10. look at the stats for the game.
    something like 14-12 shots on goal, 7-4 saves, 8-9 corners. this was an offensive power match for any league. it was fun to watch and i will continue to watch. soccer is soccer. if they had a team up here, i would go.

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  11. It may seem counterintuitive but it could be Women’s soccer that makes professional soccer take off in the US.

    Look at it this way: Hemi, V8, 440, rack & pinion, ABS, blown. Most guys, fewer girls, will know exactly what I am talking about, and those guys probably have an opinion on what is best, what they like, etc. But women make more than 50% of the car buying decisions in the US.

    Drag the misses and daughter to an MLS match or agree to come with them to a WPS match? The leagues are different but it is all football and both leagues are watchable as long as you are there in person or they use good TV cameras.

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  12. It really gets tiresome listening to all of the holier than thou straw man responses that come from some people who post here. They seem far more interested in “winning” a perceived argument or looking good than having an honest discussion. They are probably the same people who try to turn everything into race.

    Tom P:

    You should probably change your name to hypocrite or phony. The post has nothing to do with gender jacka@s!

    The whole point of the post is that WPS will not succeed at this time. The sexist response is absurd. Get off your high horse.

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  13. At the Sky Blue with the family. You have to wonder who decided to give the league to LA. Boxx, Marta and Miyama were just a cut above. Really working well for each other. To think they had Aly Wagner as a sub.

    Capacity crowd at a pretty un-soccer friendly stadium. There were kids club teams from all over the tri-state area. Hope they get a good draw for the second game. I won’t catch them again until they are at Rutgers.

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  14. Aristotle – you should change your name to Archie Bunker.

    The 2 leagues do not compete for the same $ and actually complement each other. I watch whichever one is on when I have time and whole heartedly support all soccer regardless of gender in this country.

    It really is idiotic comment and people ought to think before spouting off on these boards.

    Yeah- you’re right- you are getting flack because when you posted that comment you were seeking flack.

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  15. I had to mention this to my wife, who hates soccer, the other day .. that the WPS play has really surprised me. The quality is impressive.
    And there is no one, absolutely no one, in the MLS that plays like Marta.
    In the first week, she was brilliant, especially her triple stepover. Who in the MLS can pull that off?

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  16. if you like Heather Mitts, you’ll really like Alex Morgan (US U-20) when she hits the league in a year or so…

    The Chileans were totally gaga…

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  17. @ aristotle – MLS owners =/= WPS owners. there’s very little overlap between the two. Why are you threatened by WPS? You don’t seem to have spent much time or thought on the subject. (WUSA?)

    As a longtime MLS fan I am not concerned about WPS in any way diminishing MLS’ prospects. The two leagues may even benefit from each other in small ways. I don’t understand why you think WPS will damage MLS. Cooties?

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  18. Andrew C.

    No one said:

    “it’s the job of women’s soccer in America is to lie down and wait for men’s soccer, in the guise of the MLS, to get itself going strong to whatever definition you’ve decided strong would be.”

    Those are your words. A Women’s League will NOT survive at this time, and yes, that will be a problem with WPS and it’s horrible business plan, mainly it’s timing.

    Thanks for trying to make it into some kind of sexist argument.

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  19. Cause having more soccer being played is a bad thing.

    Also, it isn’t really, last time I checked, the job of women’s soccer in America to lie down and wait for men’s soccer, in the guise of the MLS, to get itself going strong to whatever definition you’ve decided strong would be. WPS has attracted the best players in the world to the US. That is not a bad thing. That is, in fact, a very good thing.

    If that’s going to ruin MLS, well, that sounds an awful lot like a problem with MLS and not WPS, doesn’t it?

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  20. Some people won’t like this, and I’m not saying it to be mean, but I wish WUSA or whatever they are calling it this time, would just stay dead. Until MLS establishes itself as being on a strong footing, a women’s league will only hurt MLS, and it will never survive under these conditions anyway. The question is how much damage will it do to MLS before it folds this time?

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  21. Joe: I dunno, you mean we can expect about ten thousand fans for a St Louis Men’s Team? based on the logic that the Sol drew 12k, and the Galaxy about double that, we just double the numbers, right?

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  22. There were 5,000 plus at the St. Louis game. See that MLS? 5,000 at a women’s soccer game. Imagine what turn out would be like for a league and sport that historically has a much larger following.

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  23. FC Gold Pride Vs. Boston Breakers was a good match to watch…too bad the same can’t be said about listening to the commentators. Can we PLEASE get someone who knows the game and doesn’t fill in the space with stupid commentary? For 90 minutes all we heard about Boston was how great Kristine Lilly was (and yes, she is a great player), but not once did they mention that Kelly Smith was dominating the back line of FC GP.
    Also, not impressed with A-Rod at all…missed a sure fire assist if she hit Lilly inside the 18…instead, gave a great pass back to the keeper.

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  24. I watched the Gold Pride / Breakers match yesterday and came away impressed with the quality of play and the size of the crowd.

    Reply

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