Two of the biggest starts in WPS—Marta and Hope Solo—are scheduled to miss their respective openers this weekend.
The Flash have confirmed that passport issues have held up Marta in Brazil and will prevent her from taking part of the club’s WPS opener this weekend in Boston. Marta’s presence in WPS this season was in question after FC Gold Pride folded, but the Flash swooped in to sign her as part of their aggressive approach to putting together a roster from scratch. Marta is expected in Buffalo next week.
League rules allow clubs to make last-minute roster changes so if Marta were to arrive in time for the match the Flash would be within their rights to dress her.
The league’s other quasi-debut team, magicJack, will have to do without Solo who was suspended by the league for comments made following the Atlanta Beat’s 2010 season finale. Solo later left the Beat and signed with magicJack as a free agent. Solo’s suspension leaves Jillian Loyden as the likely starter for magicJack’s opener in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Saturday: magicJack (–) at Philadelphia Independence (0-0-1, 1 point)
Could it be that magicJack are for real and will show themselves to help the Independence break in their new stadium at Widener University? This should be one of the season’s most fascinating matches based simply on the curiosity factor. The Independence ought to be feeling good after a stoppage time goal rescued their first point of the season last week at Sky Blue. And with WPS teams having not faced each other in pre-season, magicJack figures to be at a distinct disadvantage opening the season against a squad that has already played.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: The Independence started slow in New Jersey and were a bit rusty in the defensive midfield last week. Their style can be intoxicating when properly executed so a strong start against what is essentially a new team (personnel wise as well as their name and location) could spell a long day for magicJack.
Saturday: Sky Blue FC (0-0-1, 1 point) at Atlanta Beat (0-1-0, 0 points)
To hear James Galanis tell it, the Beat’s 4-1 defeat to Boston last weekend featured stretches of quality soccer that will ultimately lead to the Beat becoming a winning side.
“I think it was a really good start for our young team,” he said. “We prepared well in the pre-season, but we were unsure of where we stood at the WPS level. I knew that the team could compete but the players needed to see it for themselves. At the end of the game the players realized that they can compete at this level. That was a big psychological accomplishment for the entire team.
“We lost 4-1 but played fantastic soccer for a lot of the game and had our opponent on their heels for most of the second half. Three of the goals we conceded were created from our own fixable errors. Apart from our errors, we did really well. I’m proud of the team.”
There is more pride in results and the loser of this one will have spotted their rivals a bunch of points to open the season.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: Player of the Week Allie Long and Carolyn Blank controlled the midfield at times for Sky Blue FC last week. If Tobin Heath starts this week it could make Sky Blue’s midfield difficult to deal with.
Sunday: Western New York Flash (–) at Boston Breakers (1-0-0, 3 points) (Fox Soccer Channel, 6pm EDT)
The Breakers have a golden opportunity to go 2-0 and let the Flash know they won’t be so easy to beat. That Marta—who has owned the Breakers—will not be there swings the tactical edge in Boston’s favor. They have a match under their belts and are likely to add Lauren Cheney and Amy LePeilbet to the mix for their home opener.
The Flash put together an excellent roster so it will be fun to see how it clicks in a challenging introduction to the top flight.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: The Flash back line figures to be very good and the Breakers are without Jordan Angeli for the rest of the season. That could be the part of the field where the Flash gain an edge.
Three points of interest
1) The Beat referred all requests for their opening night attendance to the league. That is an odd practice especially considering the announced crowd of 4,002 was a strong figure.
2) The cruelest part of Jordan Angeli’s latest injury is that she was a college teammate and remains close friends with Catherine Reynolds, the Beat player whose tackle tore up Angeli’s knee. Reynolds was shown a yellow card for the challenge.
3) Independence coach Paul Riley says Allison Falk will be out another six to eight weeks.
Weekend Roster Report:
magicJack @ Philadelphia Independence | April 16, 2011
Sky Blue FC @ Atlanta Beat | April 16, 2011
Dan Lauletta is a freelance writer based in the northeast. He has covered professional women’s soccer since the dawn of WUSA in 2001 and has attended all five pro league finals. He has also covered MLS, the U.S. Women’s National Team and several other sports in the area. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.