Nogueira stepping up for Sky Blue FC; Ellertson proving her worth
WPS Week 9 was the first of what will be several consecutive weeks that will not feature U.S. women's national team players. It was also the final week for other select internationals, who will join their respective national teams shortly. Here are five things learned in WPS Week 9:
Nogueira has long been criticized for being inconsistent and taking days off, but her play in 2011 suggests she is overcoming habits of her younger years and evolving into the high level player she can be. Already 2011 has brought far more consistency for the former North Carolina Tar Heel as she settles into an attacking role on the Sky Blue FC's left wing.
Her success is also translating at the team level. While Sky Blue FC is just 2-3-2 with 8 points, it now rides a three-game unbeaten streak into Sunday's home match against the Boston Breakers, a team that has never won in New Jersey.
On Sunday, Ellertson ensured that Boston Breakers playmaker Kelly Smith did not see much of the ball, especially near the goal mouth. It was another successful man-marking assignment from Ellertson (primarily in the first half). However, just like the game against the Flash two weeks ago, it came in another loss -- partly since magicJack's daring 3-4-3 formation cares very little about defense. To stand out that much as a defender man marking two of the world's best players in a three back system says a lot about Ellertson, a two-time WPS All-Star.
Breakers coach Tony DiCicco looked like a genius as he inserted Klingenberg into the starting lineup immediately and the move certainly paid off. Klingenberg played a role in the first goal in Boston's 2-1 defeat of magicJack and scored a stunning in-stride volley that turned out to be the game-winner. The timing was great for Klingenberg, who showed magicJack owner Dan Borislow exactly what he is missing. Boston needed the result too, having entered the match with just two wins in eight tries.
The parity of the league was evident on the weekend, with a struggling Breakers team defeating second-place magicJack, Sky Blue FC erasing a two-goal deficit on the road to tie the Flash and the Atlanta drawing with Philadelphia. The shutout was much needed for Atlanta which has been outscored 17-1 over the past five games (all losses).