The league keeps rolling, as yet another WPS game week has come and gone. Not as many winners this week, or losers for that matter, as there usually are. But that didn't take away from how well the majority of the games were played. Let's Review and Analyze what happened this week, shall we?
The first game played was the Washington Freedom's showdown against FC Gold Pride for rights to 1st place. It was a hard fought game for both teams, as both sides were reluctant to give the opposition the lead. Eventually, the Washington Freedom would draw first blood, as midfielder Allie Long would give them the 1-0 edge. It seemed like Washington would actually hold off a heavy-hitting FCGP offense, but that wouldn't happen. Late in the 2nd half, Marta would equalize. It was bound to happen, as FCGP were the clear aggressors, attacking from left, right, and center for the majority of the match. All Washington did was defend, and there were only a few other opportunities in front of goal for them in the match. FCGP, however, attacked again and again, forcing Washington to play defense, as they wanted to outlast FCGP and keep the lead. Although Washington's defense was outstanding to hold FCGP at bay for nearly the whole match, they couldn't keep them from scoring eventually. FCGP's attack was fierce and determined, and their perseverance paid off, as against any team playing a solely defensive approach to hold a lead, you will eventually break through the defense and score. Even after Marta would put FCGP on the board for the night, they would continue to attack. However, Washington's and also FCGP's defense held steady, causing the match to end in a 1-1 tie. There were no declared winners in this match, but I think its clear as to who was the better team.
Looking at this match, its easy to say FCGP was the better side. They unleashed their offense and created plenty of chances. FCGP were persistent in their attacks, as they had Washington in a tough spot for the whole match. The Freedom were desperate to keep the 1-0 lead and snatch 1st place, but FCGP really came out swinging against Washington, as their attack barely gave them any time to breathe. As I said, FCGP were the clear aggressors. They had more chances, and spent most of the match in front of the Freedom's goal. Washington and FCGP were pretty equal going into this match, but FCGP proved themselves the better side against their top-of-the-table rivals. Its safe to say that as of right now, FCGP is definitely deserving of the # 1 place in the standings. Even though FCGP failed to score on quite a few attempts, they definitely had more chances and looked more dangerous. Still, they did fail to score very often. Even though they deserved to win, their lack of finishing on the remainder of the chances kept them tied. Also, we have to give loads of credit to Washington's defense. FCGP did fail to score, but we have to realize that the Freedom's defense worked extremely hard, and held FCGP at bay for nearly the whole match. FCGP may have looked better offensively, but Washington looked excellent defensively. Historically, Washington is home of the league's most conceding defense, but they've changed that a little this year, and it showed against FCGP...a team with one of the league's best offenses to date. That's saying something. As far as these teams go, Washington just needs to continue with their great form, and remember that holding a lead and playing defense isn't always smart. Whatever went wrong tactically with Washington against FCGP, they need to work on it. There weren't enough offensive efforts against their opponents, and they'll need to work on that, so when they do come against FCGP, they can attack more effectively, and still be able to hold steady in back. Its good to have balance, having to play too much defense is never a good thing. As for FCGP, their attacking efforts were plentiful, but not necessarily fruitful. Their defense held steady for the most part, but their finishing needed to be 100%, and it wasn't. True, Washington's defense did a great job, and it would be hard for any team to score on them that night, but still, FCGP has one of the best offenses right now...maybe they should have finished more. FCGP will stay atop the table in first place, while Washington will remain in 2nd. Nobody won or lost, but this game could prove as a valuable learning experience, as they can examine their weak points and improve on them.
The next fixture to talk about is Chicago vs. Atlanta Beat. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, but to be honest, it wasn't exactly surprising. Both teams have had trouble winning games thus far, and it wasn't surprising to see a result that yielded no goals either, as these are the 2 teams that have had some of the toughest times finding the net so far this season. The game was rather sloppy, and erratic. There were quite a few turn overs, but though each team had their equal chances, Chicago Red Stars were more of the aggressors in this game. They used Rapinoe on the right flank often, and she played pretty well. She was one of the main contributors to plays in the game. Cristiane saw the ball numerous times, but could never gain the composure to put it where she wanted it. Chicago had the majority of the possession in the match, and created more chances as well, although, as usual, they failed to score. Atlanta looked lost in this match. The addition of individual talent to the team could help in the long run, but seeing as it was their first match together as a team in ATL, the chemistry wasn't there.
Both these teams are still having major goal scoring problems. Atlanta has made efforts to fix and improve on this issue, as the Atlanta management have brought key players like Solo, Chalupny, Ellertson and Aluko who will definitely help with Atlanta's growth. The chemistry and flow of play might not be there yet, but after these teammates get comfortable with each other and learn each player's style, they will start being able to communicate more effectively and flow through plays and passes much better. As for Chicago, they have not improved on their goal scoring problems much. The same players fail to score each time, and lack composure. Chicago had the most chances in front of goal, but of course did not capitalize. In all fairness, solo did a fantastic job in goal as always, but still, this has been an ongoing problems no matter who they have faced. At times the final touch is lacking, and at other times, players do not have the composure to finish the job in front of goal. Chicago seriously needs to work on this, as it is the one thing keeping them from winning matches. As for ATL, the chemistry just needs to be built, and we might finally see ATL break out of their rut. As for Chicago, they have to start making efforts to fix their scoring problem, or they will not be leaving the bottom of the standings this year.
The last match of the weekend was Sky Blue FC vs. Philadelphia Independence. Philly's strong form did not fail, as they won against Sky Blue 2-1. Philly's goals came from striker A-Rod, and also midfield master Lori Lindsey. Sky Blue's only goal came from Laura Kalmari, who has been doing excellently this year, as she has 4 goals, tied with top scorers Eniola Aluko and Marta. The game seemed to have chances for both sides, but Philly was able to come out strong and win against the 2009 WPS Champions. Kai is back, but hasn't scored, yet. I think she will eventually get herself back on the board, and back into form, and I think she'll do it soon.
Sky Blue hasn't necessarily been doing too well this season. They've suffered quite a few injuries, and have had some problems with keeping possession, creating chances, and finishing them off. Sky Blue fought a hard game against Philly, and might be turning it around. Don't count Sky Blue out. This Cinderella Story team has had to deal with adverse conditions before, and have come out on top through it all. Can Sky Blue turn it around, and beat the odds again? Or will the competition be too strong this time around? And as for Philly, they have done excellently so far this season, and their label as a rookie team has pretty much vanished. Philly is quite the team to reckon with, placing themselves right in with the toughest of competition in the league. Philadelphia should be expected to go far this season, and with the way they're going, will probably make it to play-offs. Philadelphia is no rookie team, in fact they are quite the opposite. They have proven everyone wrong, and are a threat to every single team in the WPS. Philly has virtually no standout weaknesses. They have great form and will continue winning if they keep it up.
That's all for Week 8's analysis. Sorry that its a little delayed on the publishing...I've been busy with other obligations.
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