Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Regular Season Ends But Playoffs Begin: A Look At The WPS First Round

The Philadelphia Independence will host the Washington Freedom in the WPS Playoffs First Round. The game will be held in John A. Farrell Stadium, on Sunday, September 19th, and will be televised on FSN (MSG+) at 2:30 pm.

That's it folks, the 2010 WPS Regular Season is over, but that means Playoffs are only getting started! The First Round of the WPS Playoffs, which will see the Washington Freedom go up against the host Philadelphia Independence at John A. Farrell Stadium, takes place on September 19th, at 2:30 pm on FSN. I had a little confusion, and almost a panic attack, when I found that none of the channels on iO digital cable were named "FSN", but not to worry. If you have MSG+ as one of your channels, its almost a 100% chance that it'll be on there. But, there's much more to the First Round of WPS Playoffs than the date, time, and channel of the game. There's predictions and some cold hard facts that we can analyze going into this match. Let's take a look!

Philadelphia Independence- I think its safe to say that the Philadelphia Independence was this year's big surprise. I don't think many people expected a rookie franchise to come out and do so well in their inaugural season. But, they did, and they really proved that they are contenders, regardless of whether or not it was their first ever season. Hence, the reason why they're in the playoffs. Philadelphia played excellently all year and was constantly among the top 4 places throughout the season. Philadelphia also boasted one of the greatest offenses all year, scoring 37 goals on the season, 2nd only to League Champions FC Gold Pride, who tallied 46. However, their goals against is at 36, so they aren't exactly boasting the greatest defense. Philadelphia was a consistent team all year, posing threats to even the most feared teams in the league. In fact, Philadelphia quickly became one of the toughest opponents to face in 2010. However, just as the season came to an end, Philadelphia began to hit a slump. In their last 4 games, Philadelphia has lost, failing to score on 2 of those occasions. This losing streak at the very end of the WPS regular season is pure bad timing, especially since they are going into the playoffs with that hanging over their heads. The losing streak will definitely be a blow to their confidence, momentum, and morale going in. And one of the hardest hits was their 4-1 loss to FC Gold Pride in their final 2010 league match. But who knows? Philadelphia might go into the playoffs with a sense of doubt and low confidence, or they can do the complete opposite, going in with their heads high, on a mission, using that losing streak as motivation to turn it around. Which Philadelphia will come to play? The consistent, on-form side that showed up for the entire season? Or will it be the one that choked and slumped towards the end?

Washington Freedom
- I think it would be fair to dub the Washington Freedom as the Comeback Queens of 2010. The Washington Freedom was a threat from early on, and was consistently among the top ranks throughout the year. However, the Freedom hit a slump around mid-season, which saw them fall from the top of the standings, all the way to the bottom, and they sat there for some time. However, the Washington Freedom turned it around completely for the last half of the season, and fought, battled, and clawed their way back into the playoffs, right down to their very last match of the 2010 Regular Season. The Washington Freedom boasts a pretty prolific offense, having scored 33 goals on the season. Of course, their defense has conceded 33 goals (pretty crazy though, since last year they scored 32 and conceded 32. I guess they have a thing with going neutral!). However, one of the biggest things the Washington Freedom has in their favor going into the first Round of playoffs, is their momentum. The Freedom are coming off a huge win, and a dramatic one too. When playoffs were on the line, they delivered, again. This will serve as a major morale and confidence boost, and gives them just the type of positive momentum they need going into their first playoff game of 2010. There is no doubt about it. The momentum is in Washington Freedom's favor. Its almost exactly like what happened with Sky Blue FC last year. The team had to battle to get into playoffs, and got through based on the fact that they had the momentum, and on the belief that if they could claw their way into playoffs, they sure as hell could fight through the playoffs and win too. That's the one thing the Freedom has that no one else does going into playoffs: The momentum and morale from battling their way to make it in.

Here's my prediction: I am a biased Freedom fan, but, this is going to be a hard one to call. Philadelphia is going in off a slump, whereas Washington is going in off a triumphant comeback. Philadelphia is still a difficult team to battle, and there is no doubt about that. Anyone who takes them lightly is in for quite the rude awakening. But, I say the Washington Freedom is going to win. They fought hard to comeback during the season, and battled until the very last game to get into playoffs, and they made it. If that isn't a huge confidence boost, then I don't know what is. The Freedom fought extremely hard to get to where they are now, and I don't think they're going to let anyone stop them. I say the Freedom will win the First Round, but I say its going to be a close, hard-fought game from both sides.

Remember: The game is on Sunday, September 19th, @ 2:30 pm on FSN (aka MSG+). Spread the word, and don't forget to watch/set your DVR's if you can't catch it live! You would be crazy to miss this game.

Good luck to both teams in the WPS First Round!

Catch you again soon,

- Denise

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