Top Stories

WPS Week 15: A Look Back

Abby Wambach 1 ( 

                                                      Photo by



In Week 15 of Women's Pro Soccer, the Chicago Red Stars finally posted something new in the win column. As New Jersey's Sky Blue FC won its second in three games, the Boston Breakers loss their first in four and the St. Louis Athletica maintained the Arch city's current trend. FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) is still looking for some type of result while the L.A. Sol conducts business as usual.

In the Midweek match-up on Wednesday, Chicago defeated the Washington Freedom 2-1 snapping a nine game winless streak after Red Star goals by Cristiane and Lindsay Tarpley pulled off the first ever WPS come from behind victory. There were good chances on both sides of the ball and even a near tying Freedom goal in the final seconds of the game. Overall, Chicago had the clear advantage, and the Red Stars could have easily won by at least an extra goal or two.

In Saturday's New Jersey upset over the Boston Breakers, Sky Blue FC defeated its East Coast neighbor for the second consecutive time when Heather O'Reilly bent the service off a corner to finish the game's only goal. SBFC goalkeeper Jenni Branam came up with some huge saves to preserve the New Jersey result, but chances on frame were relatively even between the two teams with New Jersey taking the slight (8-6) advantage.

In Sunday action, St. Louis captain Lori Chalupny netted her second goal of the season in the Athletica's 1-0 win over FC Gold Pride.  St. Louis is now holding strong in second place after a strong and consistent month of June.  This week against the Bay Area, both St. Louis and FCGP entered into the second half tied at zero. However, just as momentum began to swing in favor of FCGP, St. Louis caught another lucky break.  Lately, it seems that somehow and in someway, the Athletica continues to find a way to win.

The final game of the weekend featured the third meeting between the Washington Freedom and the L.A. Sol.  With a stoppage time goal by Marta and a devastating Sol injury to newly acquired L.A. defender Christie Shaner, the weekend ended on both a very high and a very low note.

To address the positives first, Washington played well and had some unlucky breaks with crossbars and near finishes.  Wire to wire, both teams maintained the pace of the game and intensity never wavered.  That intensity quite possibly went too far as now injury and Abby Wambach are once again the hot topics of discussion.

Tuesday's trade betwen the Sol and SBFC brought Shaner in from SBFC to replace the Sol's now pregnant Martina Franco in exchange for a 2010 third round WPS draft pick. After playing only 40 minutes over two games with SBFC, Shaner made her first and likely her last start of the 2009 WPS season with on Sunday (with the Sol) against the Washington Freedom. 

Christie Shaner went into a hard tackle with Wambach, incurred a mid-shaft fracture to her right tibia/fibula, and underwent surgery Monday on the near two month anniversary of Daniela's Wambach-induced injury.

Below are game highlights from the game.  The injury occurs around the 1:00 mark.


As you may recall, Daniela's injury occurred on May 3 when the Freedom took on the St. Louis Athletica and the Brazilian sustained a cracked tibia with damage to two knee ligaments. Both Daniela's and Shaner's injuries occurred after each of these players had already released the ball and Wambach came in for ensuing contact which coincidentally damaged the right legs of each of the two opponents.  On these particular tackles Wambach's left leg (the one with the titanium rod) is the second to make contact, and in Shaner's case, was probably the one doing most of the damage.  From the replay, it seems that something happens once Wambach's left leg comes in for the second hit.

Is it possible that these tackles would be less severe if Wambach did not have a titanium rod in her leg?  

After Shaner's injury brought that solemn cloud back over the WPS, thank goodness Marta scored the game winner in the 91st to finish the match with something positive.  

The result puts L.A. only a single win away from  the WPS Regular Season Title and in near position of hosting the WPS Championship game. As always, every other team is in a must win situation while these six remaining clubs look to finish among the league's top four.

Expect St. Louis to remain in the hunt without a doubt as SBFC, Boston, and Washington fight neck and neck for the last two playoff positions.  With some down Freedom results, it may come as a surprise that New Jersey takes a higher post in this week's SBI WPS Power Rankings.

SBI WPS Power Rankings

1. Los Angeles Sol (11-1-4)

Outlook: From top to bottom the Sol team rarely wavers and always seems to find a way to gain that positive result.  With nearly double the amount of wins as the second place St. Louis Athletica, L.A. can secure its place in the WPS Final with a head to head win against number two this week.

2. St. Louis Athletica (6-5-2)

Outlook: Sometimes the unsung hero finally gets a little recognition.  This week Lori Chalupny finished the game winner and is fittingly deserving of a little credit. That's not to say that goalkeeper Hope Solo, English forward Eniola Aluko, and midfielder Amanda Cinalli haven't also been pivotal players for this St. Louis team throughout the past month.  The important thing to remember is that after every two consecutive wins, the Athletica takes a loss.  Currently St. Louis is boasting two wins, so it is likely that the club will incur a loss against L.A.

3. Sky Blue FC (4-6-3)

Outlook: This New Jersey club has made a strong comeback over the past few weeks and has earned two wins in the last three games.  SBFC has a bit of luck on its side but has the heart to battle for every chance at a possible win.  The team is still riding on a lot of emotion, week by week, to carry on a positive momentum.  SBFC may not be more talented all around than the Washington Freedom or Boston Breakers, but lately, it has done well to finish games and to prevent goals.

4. Boston Breakers (5-5-3)

Outlooks: Boston is up one week and down the next and continually riding the roller coaster of results. It came into Week 15 with two straight wins but was unable to get anything to go against SBFC. SInce SBFC has won both head to head match-ups against the Breakers, Boston takes number four this week.

5. Washington Freedom (4-6-4)

Outlook:  The Freedom's recent results are not indicative of the team's play.  Even against L.A. this week, Washington possessed very well and had the more dangerous first-half opportunities.  Internationals Lisa De Vanna (Australia), Sonia Bompastor (France), and Homare Sawa (Japan) are doing their best to create chances, but at some point, finishing those chances must become a main priority. Washington can hang on if the Freedom learns to finish square balls across the goal and if Cat Whitehill's service can find the side netting versus the post. Three straight losses is quite a bit for a team in the top half of the table.  Without some results and better finishing in the near future, a team that simply plays well and doesn't win will simply lose, tie, and miss the playoffs.

6. Chicago Red Stars (3-6-5)

Outlook: Chicago picked up its first win in nine games on Wednesday of, but the Red Stars still have a long way to go.  This week Cristiane and Lindsay Tarpley had a bit of composure in front of the goal and made some great finishes.  Chicago continually creates wide open opportunities to score, but the Red Stars either miscommunicate or mishit the ball completely.  Defensively, things are getting a bit better, but diving in and not stepping to shots in the penalty area are major areas in need of improvement. 

7. FC Gold Pride (3-7-3)

Outlook: When will things get better for the Bay Area team?  FCGP has gone six games without a win but had some great chances to finish against the Athletica this week. For a team that started out with so much promise, the back line cannot be its only saving grace.  At some point, the attackers must put something away.

What are your thoughts on Week 15?  Was Wambach's tackle malicious? Agree or Disagree with the Power Rankings?  Share your thoughts below.


  1. “She’s an intense competitor and she’s just so much stronger than most of her opponents.The way she plays, people are going to get hurt.”

    So what exactly does that mean? Abby should play with less intensity? Not train so hard to become a physically dominant player? Just so no one else gets hurt. She gets pounded every game and she has developed her body to withstand the pounding and for that she is being made out to be some kind of villain. She had the ball and was headed toward the goal, is she supposed to back off just in case she may hurt somebody? There was no foul called or card given on the play and when play resumed the Freedom got the ball back! It sucks but, in sports sometimes people get hurt badly as Abby knows all too well.

  2. I’m hesitant to bring this up because I don’t want to open up a can of worms by suggesting it, but there is also the fact that Abby is built like and plays like…well, like a man. She’s fearless like McBride, she tackles like Gattuso, and compared to the people she’s playing against, she’s built like Jozy. She’s an intense competitor and she’s just so much stronger than most of her opponents. The way she plays, people are going to get hurt.

  3. I agree with Rufus.

    If you watch the video clip above, you can see that Wambach had possession of the ball and was chasing it down, shaner came in hard, Wambach was protecting the ball, as any forward would. There leg was broken from Abby’s right leg, no chance it was her left. they both went in with their whole body as any decent forward and any decent defender should do. This is soccer, it is physical. As someone on another site said, “go play poker, no contact there.”

    Matt: studs were down, not a foul.

  4. two-footed, studs up, mid shin. That’s a red anywhere and it’s a red for a reason. How many legs does Wambach get to break?

  5. I was at the Freedom game. In real time the Wambach/Shaner collision was on a 50/50 ball where, in real time, both players wound up at the same spot at the same time. The play was within the Sol’s 18 as Wambach was going towards goal. Anyone that thinks a forward worth anything will back out of a challenge down there is nuts. Unfortunate, but reckless — no. The ref who was right there called nothing.

    I do think the remarks about the titanium rod are over the top. Gee, how did that rod get there? Oh yeah, Wambach had her leg broken by a reckless challenge. I guess she should have retired after the injury rather than use the rod as a “weapon.” Get a grip.

  6. is the tackle malicious – no. I don’t believe anything in WPS is malicious. Was it reckless – sure you could say that but it was a 50/50 ball and it turns out Abby didn’t win it. Happens in MEN’s games ALL THE TIME. Now the kicker will be if she gets suspended again or not. Because if she doesn’t then that just shows an inconsistent refereeing trend. Not that I would be surprised. I mean – technically even for a reckless challenge (serious foul play) she should have been red carded….. no?

    Personally – I don’t think there is ENOUGH tackling in the women’s game. And you can point the problem all the way down to the girl’s youth level on that one.

    Beyond that – 15 weeks and we just had the FIRST come from behind win? That doesn’t make for excitement and fan faith if the statistical average means the first to score will always be the one to win.

    I like your factual pieces on the game coverage, but I would love to see you go out and do some more edgy controversial op-ed pieces on the women’s game.

  7. AGAIN, it looks like Abby leaves both feet and like jumps into the tackle. If you looks Shaner is defending and tackling the way you should, but sadly……she’s not going in as hard and is not as big as Wambach. I think Wambach is the only player in the WPS that tackles the hardest. Buehler is tough, but I bet Wambach would break a leg 90% of the time because of her weight, her brick/wall like nature, and the way she takes…..with TWO FEET!! She kind of goes sideways on her tackles….The way Abby tackles is the best way to get the ball from her opponent and lessen any possible injury on herself.

    Either way, thanks Shaner for a great few minutes…….Abby…maybe if you weren’t on the ground all the time…you’d actually score.

    AGAIN…..The Sol are the Kings or Queens of WPS!!!

  8. I turned on the D.C.-L.A. match the other day, just in time to watch the Wambach tackle. I watched the girl go down and said flippantly, “Abby, you’ve got to stop breaking peoples’ legs like that.” Then I saw the replay and realized the poor girl actually did have a broken leg.

    I don’t think Abby’s titanium leg has anything to do with it. She always has been and always will be a bruiser, and that’s just the way it is. My ex-girlfriend used to guard her in high school basketball and she was just a force of nature, plain and simple. I wouldn’t consider her dirty player, but she’s probably going to have to find a way to bridle her intensity before it becomes a detriment to her career.


Leave a Comment