Athletica and Sky Blue earn first wins
Week 7 in Women's Professional Soccer demonstrated parity in the league's first season. Two teams, Saint Louis Athletica and Sky Blue FC, earned their first wins in league play, while the Chicago Red Stars dropped from the unbeaten ranks. Meanwhile, the top two teams in the league played to a scoreless draw in Southern California, keeping the Los Angeles Sol at the top of the WPS table -- a spot they've held since Week 1.
Saint Louis Athletica 1, FC Gold Pride 0
Last week, the Athletica (1-2-2) scored their first goal of the WPS season on Saturday night, when in front of a crowd of 3,860 they recorded the franchise's first win by defeating FC Gold Pride 1-0.
"I feel a lot more relaxed," Athletica coach Jorge Barcellos said. "It is kind of hard when you are representing a town and a city and you can't get a win in four games. When you get the win you are relieved that you finally got what you are looking for."
Captain Lori Chalupny provided the game's only goal when her corner kick bent around Gold Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart in the 16th minute. The Athletica's back line helped preserve the lead for its second shutout of the year. With the loss, the Gold Pride fell to 2-3-1.
"I was looking far-post trying to challenge the keeper since it was one of the first corners of the game," said Chalupny. "I can't say I meant to do that, but sometimes you get lucky. Those are the ones you put your head down and say, 'We got some luck on our side.'"
Sky Blue FC 2, Chicago Red Stars 0
For the first time this season, Sky Blue FC put together a complete effort at both ends of the field and the result was the team's first WPS victory. Sarah Walsh connected early in the first half and Natasha Kai added a second-half goal as Sky Blue FC claimed a 2-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park.
Jenni Branam needed just three saves to post the shutout for Sky Blue FC (1-2-2), which vaulted into a tie for fifth place in the standings with five points. The loss was the first setback of the season for Chicago (2-1-2), which could have climbed into first place with a win.
Sky Blue FC and Chicago tied 0-0 in their first meeting of the season on April 19.
"Obviously to come in playing such a strong side in Chicago we knew we had our work cut out for us, but we had a great week of practice -- we re-established our structure, talked about our goals and getting results," said Sky Blue FC general manager and coach Ian Sawyers. "I was very proud of the way the team played today -- they played with a lot of heart and a lot of poise. We started scoring goals which is a good sign for us because we have some good goal scorers."
Los Angeles Sol 0, Boston Breakers 0
With first-place in the WPS standings on the line, the Los Angeles Sol (3-1-2) and Boston Breakers (3-2-1) played to a 0-0 draw Sunday afternoon in their rematch at the Home Depot Center. The game came one week after a 2-1 victory by Boston at Harvard Stadium dropped the Sol from unbeaten ranks.
The Sol had the best early chance in the sixth minute, when Marta's through ball found forward Han Duan in stride outside the penalty area. Duan's low shot was steered aside for a corner by Boston goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill.
Duan would come close again in the 38th minute when running onto a long ball by Shannon Boxx. However, Duan's effort banged off the left post.
"I thought we played a good first half but we lacked quality finishing," said Los Angeles Sol coach Abner Rogers. "Boston is a very good team and you're not going to get many opportunities to score against them. The chances were there today, but we need to finish better."
Los Angeles hosts Sky Blue FC this week in the first Friday night game of the season, while Boston hosts the Washington Freedom in Sunday's nationally televised game.