Week 4 in Women's Professional Soccer saw the Los Angeles Sol extend their winning streak and unscored-upon streak to three games as they toppled California rivals FC Gold Pride, 1-0, on a hot day at the Home Depot Center. Chicago was the last of the seven teams to play host to its season opener and also featured the first scoreless draw in league history as the Red Stars tied Sky Blue FC. Meanwhile the Boston Breakers took sole possession of second place in the WPS standings, becoming the first team to score three goals in a game with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Freedom.
Boston 3-1 Washington
Everything that seemed to be trending in the right direction for the Washington Freedom was turned on its head Saturday night, as the visiting Boston Breakers left the Maryland SoccerPlex with a 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of 4,232.
After a quiet first half, things got going in the second starting with Kelly Smith's penalty kick in the 56th minute. Freedom goalkeeper Briana Scurry fouled the Breakers Angela Hucles in the box giving the Breakers the penalty kick. Smith buried the kick and gave Boston a 1-0 lead.
"The first half was really substandard for both teams," Freedom coach Jim Gabarra said to reporters. "I think it was tentative, we didn't have good pressure on the ball.
"The second half was better -- a bounce here or there, you go ahead 2-1, I think the game's probably over."
Washington (0-2-1) responded in the 60th minute to tie the score at 1-1 as Lori Lindsey took a pass from Rebecca Moros and put it past Boston goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill. Boston (2-1-0) added its final two goals in a five-minute span as Christine Latham headed the ball past Scurry in the 76th minute and Angela Hucles scored the final goal of the match in the 81st.
"That ball had eyes," said Scurry, who got a finger on Latham's header. "Latham got up well for it. It was like that in the first half too but fortunately we were able to get our heads on the ball.
"You've got to be careful, you've got to be tight. You've got to have everybody in position at every moment with [Boston] because they have such great attacking weapons. They're going to punish you if you're not careful."
Washington had a chance to take the lead in the 72nd minute when Hucles was called for a handball inside the goalie box. Luckenbill had Abby Wambach's penalty kick pegged though and stopped the shot. And even though the expectations continue to grow for Wambach to finally score, Scurry says more patience is still needed.
"Abby's getting into it," Scurry said. "She had a major injury. Sometime these things take time and I'm sure she's doing everything she can to get back to herself. Eventually she will get a goal and I think after she gets one, she'll get plenty."
After a two-game home stand yielded only one point, Washington will hit the road in search of its first WPS win as the team will face FC Gold Pride next Sunday, April 26 in Santa Clara, Calif. The Boston Breakers head to Chicago to play one of two unbeaten teams in WPS when they face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, April 25.
Los Angeles Sol 1-0 FC Gold Pride
The Los Angeles Sol defeated FC Gold Pride (Bay Area), 1-0, on a scorching Sunday afternoon at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. L.A. claimed its third consecutive shutout victory of the season and move to the top of the WPS standings with nine points in three games. It was the first matchup of the regular season between the two WPS teams from the Golden State.
"It was great to see the excitement today," said Los Angeles Sol coach Abner Rogers. "There were a lot of great scoring opportunities for both teams. You usually don't see that type of excitement in a 1-0 game."
After trading scoring opportunities for the first 44 minutes of the game, Japanese international Aya Miyama ran onto a through ball that gave her a one-on-one scoring opportunity in the closing moments of the first half. But with pressure from FC Gold Pride (1-1-1) keeper Nicole Barnhart, Miyama was forced to take a quick shot six yards out that grazed the outside of the right post.
With halftime providing the Sol with an opportunity to escape the heat and regroup, Los Angeles opened the second half with a new energy and a new formation that allowed it to set the tone for the rest of the game.
In the 47th minute, midfielder Aly Wagner chipped a ball over the back line that found Marta running in stride through the 18-yard box. Marta settled the ball down, took a quick touch and placed it past Barnhart into the back of the net.
"Marta made a great run and was in the gap," said Wagner. "I played a ball over the backline into an open space and she did a great job finishing it."
The Los Angeles Sol travel to face Saint Louis Athletica on Saturday, April 25 at 4 p.m. ET. FC Gold Pride returns to the Bay Area to host the Washington Freedom on Sunday, April 26 in the national television game (6 p.m. ET).
Sky Blue FC 0-0 Chicago Red Stars
A matchup of the Windy City against the Big Apple finished as the first scoreless draw in WPS history Saturday in Chicago. Three games into their inaugural season, the Chicago Red Stars (1-0-2) remain unbeaten after earning a 0-0 tie with Sky Blue FC (0-1-2) in their home opener before 5,824 fans at a rain-drenched Toyota Park Sunday night.
Red Stars forward Lindsey Tarpley had a strong chance for her third goal in as many games in second-half stoppage time. Karen Carney played a shot from the right side of the box to Tarpley, who had a good look but hit it right at Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jenni Branam.
The shot was one of 18 Chicago recorded, but the Red Stars only put four on goal. One came on a spectacular bicycle kick attempt from midfielder Megan Rapinoe in the 38th minute. After Sky Blue FC starting goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made an initial stop on a shot by midfielder Carli Lloyd, the ball ricocheted to Rapinoe at the top of the box. She played it beautifully on the bicycle attempt, but Bardsley was able to recover in time to parry it over the net.
Sky Blue FC had one of the game's best scoring chances early on in the game. Midfielder Collette McCallum made a run up the right side, crossing to Sarah Walsh on the left edge of the box. As Red Stars keeper Caroline Jonsson came out to challenge the play, Walsh got a shot off that hit the cross bar and bounced out of play.
Jönsson put forth another solid effort in net, stopping all three of Sky Blue FC's shots on goal to record her second clean sheet of the season. Sky Blue starting keeper Bardsley recorded four saves before leaving the game at halftime with back spasms. Branam posted two saves in the second half for a combined six saves for the visitors, who were outshot 18-7 in the contest.
"It was great to be a part of history here in Chicago -- it was a good crowd and the fans in Chicago are hardcore just like the fans in New Jersey," said Sky Blue FC coach and GM Ian Sawyers. "Coming away with the point on the road is not the perfect outcome. We played much better in the second half and created more chances."
The Red Stars return to action next Saturday for their second game on a five-game home stand. Chicago will host the Boston Breakers, while Sky Blue FC have an off week before traveling to the Bay Area on May 3 for a game against FC Gold Pride.