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WPS Week 17: A Look Ahead

Angela Hucles ( 

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Week 17 in Women's Pro Soccer began with Wednesday match-ups between the Chicago Red Stars and Boston Breakers along with the Washington Freedom against Sky Blue FC (New Jersey). The Freedom will retake the field Saturday (CSN 5:00 PM ET)against the St. Louis Athletica while Sunday battles feature New Jersey playing host to Chicago (FSC 4:30 PM ET) and the Breakers at FC Gold Pride (Bay Area).  Keep in mind that 18 U.S. National Team players, four Canadian Nation Team players, and four England national team players will miss the weekend of competition.

In the first match-up of Week 17, the Chicago Red Stars traveled to the Boston Breakers in the third and final meeting between these two teams.  Boston had won the previous head to head battle with Chicago but approached this game with two straight losses. Chicago, on the other hand, came in with back to back wins and a vague remembrance of a 4-0 Breakers' smashing earlier in the season. 

Thanks to an Angela Hucles finish and solid defending this time around, Boston took the 1-0 win and  did it without Kelly Smith or Alex Scott who are away with the English National Team.  Chicago and Boston put up a good battle on Wednesday and both will return for more action over the weekend.

Following the Breakers victory, the second midweek game featured some great finishes and shocking defensive play in a 4-4 draw between the Washington Freedom and SBFC. On a positive note, Each team put away most of its chances. However, at this point in the season, teams should be aware of the scoreline and should understand the importance of holding the lead.

 Since match was not televised, here are the highlights from the game.

Based solely on these highlights, SBFC gave away two own-goals.  On the first, the Freedom's Lisa DeVanna was indeed onside when she received the ball from Wambach.  (If you are unsure, please pause the highlights at 2:35 when Wambach strikes the ball). The entire New Jersey defense freezes and then has no chance of catching the Australian forward. On the second, Jen Buczkowski clears basically into her own goal and does so in stoppage time.  When the game is almost over, mistakes like this cannot happen.

As for the Freedom, Washington was really only punished by one major mistake. Becky Sauerbrunn didn't track in the box and Natasha Kai seemed surprised to actually be scoring a goal. It was like Kai expected Sauerbrunn to step in front and clear the ball; but instead, the ball just awkwardly rolled down her shin and into the goal.

At any rate, four goals in one game is quite the feat in a competitive league such as the WPS. But allowing four against in a single game is by no means something to brag about.  Lucky for these teams that they both scored as many times as they did but even luckier for SBFC and Washington that they both have a weekend match-up to redeem those four goals conceded.

Weekend games begin Saturday when St. Louis travels to the Washington Freedom. With a 3-3 tie, and a 1-0 Freedom win in their previous meetings, this match should be an even and competitive game. St. Louis is on a three game win streak and Washington is coming off a '4-4 tie. Team-wise, St. Louis has the better defense and will only lose two players to call-ups.  In the absence of Hope Solo and Lori Chalupny, GK Jill Lloyden and Amanda Cinalli will keep things together.  The Freedom on the other hand seems to have Sonia Bompastor back to her old self which is good since Washington will miss Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill and Erin McLeod.  Each team has its weapons, but some shaky, midweek defending by Washington the loss of its only real keeper gives St. Louis the edge in this one.

Sunday begins with a battle between the Chicago Red Stars and SBFC. Chicago fell 1-0 in a midweek match-up and is looking to bounce back over the weekend.  New Jersey's 4-4 tie with the Freedom revealed some of the SBFC strengths and weaknesses.  Without English international Anita Asante on the back line, New Jersey's organization and cover were a bit off on Wednesday. Now, SBFC also faces a game without Christie Rampone and Heather O'Reilly as well.  The New Jersey core of player should do fine without a few key players. As for Chicago, the Red Stars may not be so fortunate.  Chicago will need a new game plan because New Jersey does well to shutdown flank play and basically the entire Red Stars offense is missing. Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley and Karen Carney are all on national team duty.

New Jersey is playing well and should take the win from a struggling Red Stars team without its best players.

In the final Sunday match-up, the Bay Area hosts Boston.  It will be a hard battle for FCGP which hasn't seen a win in its last seven games.  The Breakers come into the match-up having just defeated Chicago and are likely to take the field with a little confidence.  Boston will play the game without Angela Hucles, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Amy Rodriguez and Candace Chapman.

The Bay Area must go all-in and must fight for every half chance, quarter chance, and eight of a chance to try to ride hardwork and luck where chemistry, tactics, and possession fall short.  Boston should do well if the Breakers come out strong and use speed and combination play top to get in behind the FCGP defense. The Bay Area is without Leslie Osborne, Rachel Buehler, Nicole Barnhart and Christine Sinclair. Perhaps it will be a good thing for FCGP to try some new players in some new areas.  If anything, it definitely can't hurt.

Week 17 began with a landmark eight goals in a single game and will continue with three big matches over the weekend. National team players are missing from every team, so whether it's SBFC and Chicago, the Freedom or the Athletica, or the Bay Area challenging Boston, all competing teams have a chance to shake up the WPS standings.

Team by team, here's the breakdown of missing players:

Boston Breakers: USA – Angela Hucles, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Amy Rodriguez
England – Candace Chapman

Chicago Red Stars: USA – Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley
England – Karen Carney

FC Gold Pride: USA – Leslie Osborne, Rachel Buehler, Nicole Barnhart
Canada – Christine Sinclair

LA Sol: USA – Shannon Boxx, Stephanie Cox
Canada – Karina LeBlanc

SBFC: USA – Christie Rampone, Heather O'Reilly
England – Anita Asante

ST. Louis Athletica: USA – Lori Chalupny, Hope Solo
Canada – Melissa Tancredi

Washington Freedom: Abby Wambach, Cat Whitehill
Canada – Erin McLeod
What did you think about the 4-4 result?  Who will miss the national team players most?  Will FC Gold Pride get out last place?  Share your thoughts below.


  1. Correction for the Breakers – Candace Chapman is Canadian – and the B’s are also missing Kelly Smith and Alex Scott – both from England – and both very key players. Thanks for the great post and GO BREAKERS!

  2. Christa,

    I think Boston will be missing their national team players the most, although any time you lose Abby Wambach your team will be depleted. I think the team that will least be affected is the LA Sol due to the presence of one certain Brazilian still on the roster. Great post as always Christa.

  3. Sky Blue and Chicago will be missing 3/4 of their most important players, and Kai is playing with two bad shoulders. It is faintly absurd to expect clubs to overcome having their best players disappear at a crucial time in the season. The results this weekend are going to be almost arbitrary.

    Incidentally, are you the same Christa Mann that played in Iceland?


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