The first part of the WPS season is over. The second part, the one with no U.S. National Team players in the fold, begins Friday night in Rochester. Earlier in the week two of the teams most impacted by the World Cup authored a trade. The Breakers sent Nikki Washington to magicJack in exchange for Meghan Klingenberg, a second round pick in the 2012 draft, and a player to be named later.
The trade is an interesting one for both teams. magicJack gets the immediate upgrade, but the Breakers may wind up with the better of things in the long run, both in terms of the players swapped and the extra parts.
Washington played five matches for the Breakers this season, starting four and chipping in one assist, but she had clearly fallen down on the depth chart. Instead of inserting Washington into a more prominent role in the absence of Lauren Cheney, Kelly Smith, and Kelley O’Hara, they moved her to magicJack for her former North Carolina teammate.
Klingenberg is a speedy, tireless flank player taken 3rd overall in January, but she only saw limited action in two matches off the bench for magicJack. She will add a much needed element on both sides of the ball for the Breakers. Head coach Tony DiCicco, who coached Klingenberg on the 2008 U-20 World Cup team that won the gold medal, complimented her on a wonderful competitive mentality.
Perhaps the most fascinating part of the deal is magicJack parting ways with next year’s second round pick, which for the moment takes them out of play for the 2012 draft. Their first round pick was traded to the Beat—to acquire the pick that yielded Klingenberg—and their third and fourth round picks were eliminated in league imposed sanctions. Could part of the motivation for the trade have been to preemptively deal the last pick for value rather than leaving it out there for the league to take?
Whatever the case, look for both players, Klingenberg in particular, to get thrown right into the mix starting Sunday when the clubs square off at Harvard Stadium on FSC.
Let’s take a look at how Week 9 is shaking out:
Friday: Sky Blue FC (2-3-1, 7 points) at Western New York Flash (6-0-1, 19 points)
Last time up north Sky Blue head coach Jim Gabarra said it “was just a little bit too much Marta for us.” That has been a problem for Gabarra (and most other coaches) dating back to his Freedom days. The Flash are still mostly intact until Brazil and Canada come calling for their World Cup players.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: Anita Asante is back to the world class form that made her among the very best defenders in WPS two years ago. She gets in passing lanes and breaks up plays as well as anyone. She’ll need to be disruptive to slow down Marta and Christine Sinclair.
Saturday: Atlanta Beat (1-6-1, 4 points) at Philadelphia Independence (2-2-2, 8 points)
Here’s how bad things have gotten for the Beat. They lost 4-0 last weekend and their coach was happy with everything other than the final score. Last time they played the Independence they went to halftime with a goal lead and a woman advantage and were still under siege for most of the second, eventually losing 2-1.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: Amy Rodriguez is part of the World Cup contingency so there will be more pressure now on Tasha Kai, who has had a marvelous beginning to her first season in Philadelphia.
Sunday: magicJack (4-1-0, 11 points) at Boston Breakers (2-5-1, 7 points)
The Breakers are without three-quarters of their starting back line, and their fourth and best alternate option—Alex Scott and Ifeoma Dieke—are both questionable for this one. magicJack’s helter-skelter style may be a problem for a Breakers side that does not overwhelm with its speed.
KEYS TO THE MATCH: The Breakers makeshift back four must click for them to have any chance of hanging in against a quality magicJack side. For the visitors, Brett Maron gets the keys to the goal which could be an area the Breakers try to exploit.
Three points of interest
1) WPS has partnered with A3 Sports Consulting for the remainder of the season. The Texas-based sports and entertainment consulting firm will work with WPS on marketing and ticket strategies. Any little bit of help can only be a good thing.
2) US Head coach Pia Sundhage constantly preaches that it could be the last player on the roster that makes the difference. That last player this year is Kelley O’Hara, chosen as Lindsay Tarpley’s replacement.
3) The Flash dismissed general manager Henrik Ambarchian on Wednesday. Assistant AJ Cecere has taken over.