Week 5 in Women's Professional Soccer saw another top rookie forward score her first professional goal and the debut of a promising young international forward. WPS players looking for inclusion in the United States' Women's World Cup roster also learned their fate. Here are five things learned in WPS Week 5:
Also hit hard by the U.S. roster will be the Boston Breakers and Philadelphia Independence, both losing four players. Boston will face the toughest transition since three of its four starting defenders (Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler and Stephanie Cox) are on the U.S. squad. However, Philadelphia coach Paul Riley has smartly featured his U.S. players sparingly in order to ease the Independence into times without Amy Rodriguez, Lori Lindsey, Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. Val Henderson is a capable backup for Barnhart, and Veronica Boquete should soon be available up top for Philadelphia. Along with Tasha Kai and Lianne Sanderson, Boquete should do well to fill the void left by Rodriguez.
Here is the breakdown by team:
Atlanta Beat: 2
May 22 could serve as an early-season preview of the championship when magicJack travels to Rochester to take on the Western New York Flash. Both teams are currently unbeaten and playing confident soccer. That match will be wide open on a large turf field in Rochester with magicJack's 3-4-3 formation taking on the 4-3-3 of Western New York. It'll be interesting to see if magicJack will be daring enough to employ a 3-defender back line against the league's fastest forward line, which includes Marta.
That has to bring relief to Sky Blue FC fans hoping their team can claw its way out of the basement of WPS. Sky Blue FC (0-3-1, 1 point) has scored just three goals in four WPS games. Adriana is reason for optimism. She scored 10 goals in 12 UEFA Champions League matches and serves as one of Spain's go-to forwards. On Friday she scored and looked dangerous after just one training session with her new team. If she looked that good after a flight from Madrid to New Jersey followed by a seven-hour bus ride to Rochester, N.Y., imagine what she can do on fresh legs.
Center backs Whitney Engen and Candace Chapman are essentially left player for player against the opposing teams forwards. Outside backs Ali Riley and Kandace Wilson are released into the attack on practically every possession, similar to the way Dani Alves and Eric Abidal get forward for Barcelona. Riley can often be found playing in front of her forwards, which on most teams might be worrisome. However, Engen and Chapman have proved perfectly capable of defending as a pair, and Riley and Wilson can recover quickly with their superior speed.
Also critical to Philadelphia's midfield success are two unsung heroes: rookie Sinead Farrelly and defensive midfielder Jen Buczkowski. Farrelly has an eye for the killer through ball, and her technical ability on the ball is a cut above any other rookie midfielder. Buczkowski, who won the 2009 WPS Championship with Sky Blue FC, serves as the hard-tackling ball winner who sits in front of the backs.