League leaders FC Gold Pride pull further ahead
League leaders FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) pulled further ahead in standings during Week 5 of WPS as second-place Philadelphia Independence lost their first game, while the Atlanta Beat opened their new soccer-specific stadium, KSU Soccer Stadium, with the fourth-highest all-time attendance in WPS history.
On Saturday, FC Gold Pride (4-1-0) blanked the Chicago Red Stars (1-3-1), 2-0, on a dazzling strike by Tiffeny Milbrett and 2009 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Kelley O'Hara's first goal of her WPS career. Milbrett hit the cross bar with her initial shot but the ball bounced back to the former national team star. She collected it, controlled it in the air with one touch and then sent a second laser of a shot in the span of several seconds that -- this time -- found the back of the net.
FC Gold Pride's victory moved the Bay Area-side three points clear in the table, as Philadelphia (2-1-2) dropped a 2-1 decision to Saint Louis Athletica (2-1-2) -- the first loss of the year for the expansion Independence. In Saturday's other game, long-time rivals Washington Freedom (2-2-1) and Boston Breakers (1-1-3) played to a 0-0 tie in blustery, cold conditions at the Maryland SoccerPlex, which saw Abby Wambach leave the field in the final minutes following a hard collision with Breakers goalkeeper Ashley Phillips.
On Sunday, the Atlanta Beat (0-4-1) inaugurated KSU Soccer Stadium, the first stadium built specifically for a WPS team, as 7,248 fans came through the turnstiles to watch their home team Beat outshoot the defending WPS champions Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY) by 25-9 only to lose 1-0 on an unlucky own goal by Leigh Ann Robinson in the second half. Sky Blue FC (3-2-0) were paced by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who leads the league in shutouts and goals against average, and made repeated saves on Atlanta's young forward Ramona Bachmann, who showed her talent and ability on many occasions with the ball as well as her inexperience with several missed opportunities to finish.