Smith's knee injury not as bad as originally feared
It wasn't a sight Breakers fans wanted to see. It wasn't a sight any women's soccer fan wanted to see. Near the end of the first half of Sunday's match at Sky Blue FC, Boston midfielder and English international Kelly Smith limped off the field, favoring her right knee.
Smith has been the best player in Women's Professional Soccer this season and looks like the best player in the world right now, as well. "You never want to see a player like Kelly Smith get hurt," Sky Blue FC interim head coach Kelly Lindsey said after her team's 2-1 win.
Smith collided with her English national teammate and Sky Blue FC defender Anita Asante in the 42nd minute and, after appearing to try to walk it off, had to be subbed out of the game. Smith appeared relaxed when speaking to reporters after the game, though she was unsure what had happened to her knee.
"I think I just jarred my knee a little bit. I kicked my fellow national team player Anita and, just, I don't know what I've done, but obviously I was limping a little bit and iced it," she said. "Doctor said my ACL was all intact, which I'm happy about because I did hear some kind of crack in there."
Smith was listed as questionable due to pain in the knee heading into Sunday's game. She has been dealing with pain in the same knee since playing 90 minutes in England's 3-0 win over Norway on April 23 and receiving what the Breakers called "a bit of a knock." She sat out the Breakers' 4-0 loss to Chicago two days later. She also tore an ACL in this knee in 2002 while she was playing for the Philadelphia Charge of the Women's United Soccer Association, cutting short an MVP-type season.
"I'm just all tight on my right-hand side -- my IT band, the band that runs down the right hand side -- and, you know, my knee's had two surgeries on it anyway, so I've got to keep it strong, doing my rehab which I've been doing," Smith said. "It's real stiff right now, but fingers crossed I'll get it assessed and it'll be OK."
Before the injury, Smith netted her league-leading fifth goal of the season, easily cleaning up Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jenni Branam's bobble of an Alex Scott cross and pushing it into the goal from a few inches away. Smith said she thought it was the easiest goal she's ever scored: "I could've probably let it go in and credited it to Alex, but I'm a poacher, goal scorer, and I wanted the goal."
As of Wednesday, the word from the Breakers was that Smith appears to have a contusion and a possible slight hyperextension of her right knee. She was doing some running at practice Wednesday morning. The Breakers have a bye this week, giving Smith an extra week to get better before they host St. Louis on June 14.
That's good news for Boston. Smith has been the best player on the field for the Breakers and the best player in WPS this season. She's missed 135 minutes of action this season and Boston has not scored a goal when Smith has not been on the field. She's scored in 5 of the 6 games in which the Breakers have scored a goal.
Wilson injury update
One of the fastest players in WPS won't be showing her speed for quite some time. Kandace Wilson's doctors have told the FC Gold Pride defender that she can't even begin running for at least three months. Wilson is out for the rest of the season after breaking her hip two weeks ago in her team's loss to Los Angeles.
Wilson was injured when the Sol's Marta pushed her hard out of bounds as the two battled for a ball on the sideline in the 90th minute. Wilson fell awkwardly, injuring her right hip.
"[Marta] was getting bumped around the whole game, so I think she kind of got a little frustrated and was just trying to take it out on anyone," said Wilson when reached last week by telephone. "She kind of gave me a little push unexpected after the ball was already out and I couldn't catch my balance, and as my body was going down my leg stayed straight and my hip popped out and popped back in."
Wilson said she had no hard feelings toward Marta about the play and wasn't looking for Marta to be suspended by the league. Wilson said she would've liked to have seen the call made on the field by the referee.
"Personally, I think she deserved a yellow card. She already had a yellow card, which would've given her a red card. I don't know. Abby [Wambach] ... took out Daniela for the rest of the season and got suspended, but Marta takes me out for the season and doesn't even get a card for it," Wilson said. "I just wish the ref would've done something about it, but outside the field I have no hard feelings towards her."
The Sol declined to comment on the play.
It had been a solid season for Wilson, who was quickly becoming one of the most dynamic outside backs in the league. Her biggest highlight came in the team's inaugural win over Boston when her shot in the 90th minute was saved by Breakers goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill but bounced right to Tiffeny Milbrett, who scored the game-winning goal.
"I was so nervous because it was the first game. It was televised," she said of entering the game as a substitute with the score tied 1-1 in the 83rd minute. "I was so nervous I was shaking before I even went on the field.
"The season was great. I was just having such a good time," said Wilson. "I have no regrets towards the season thus far. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. I was having a great time."
Sky Blue FC's win over Boston capped a tumultuous eight days that saw Ian Sawyers suspended from his duties as head coach and GM; he was ultimately let go by the club.
"It was not results-based at all. It was more the style, his style of how he dealt with the staff, with the players, with his staff, with the front-office staff and his ideas how that should be done," Sky Blue Soccer President and CEO Thomas Hofstetter said of the change after the game. "The results, in hindsight, I think were the symptom. We've seen it today. They were relaxed, they played, they had fun.
"The team was unhappy, but also the front-office staff was not very happy. It was not just a team problem. It was really across the board, across the company."
Assistant head coach Kelly Lindsey has been given the interim tag. Gerry Marrone, who was previously Sky Blue Soccer's VP of sales and marketing, has taken over the GM duties.
After the win, it was all smiles from the players as they spoke to the media. "We just started fresh. There's things that happened in the past. Hakuna matata. It's the past," said Natasha Kai. "We just gotta move forward. We still have a lot more games left in the season and we're just looking forward from here."
Sawyers could not be reached for comment. He is the husband of former U.S. national team captain and ESPN analyst Julie Foudy.
1. Los Angeles Sol (6-1-2): Los Angeles is starting to look uncatchable. Heading into Wednesday night's game against Chicago, the Sol have an eight-point lead over the second-place Freedom.
2. Washington Freedom (3-2-3): The Freedom are unbeaten in their past five matches. Erin McLeod has been terrific in goal and Lisa De Vanna and Sonia Bompastor have been huge on offense.
3. Boston Breakers (3-3-2): The Breakers have another bye this week, so there's time for Smith to get better. If she's not back soon, it could be a long season for Boston.
4. Saint Louis Athletica (2-3-2): A loss to the league leader is the only blemish on an otherwise solid May.
5. Sky Blue FC (2-4-2): Sky Blue FC already has one of the better defenses in the league and the offense came to play against Boston. If that continues, it could be the start of something good for the team under their new head coach.
6. FC Gold Pride (3-5-1): Back-to-back losses to the Sol and Freedom, plus the loss of Kandace Wilson, have FC Gold Pride in a tough spot.
7. Chicago Red Stars (2-3-2): April was a great month for Chicago, but May was not. Can the Red Stars rebound in June? It won't be easy as they face the Sol on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Jacqueline Purdy covers women's soccer for ESPN.com. She also is an editor for ESPNRadio.com. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, followed on Twitter and friended on ESPN's fan profiles.