Monday, April 25, 2011

Piteå drops its first game of the season

After starting off to a 1-0-1 record, Pitea lose to their first match of the season to 2009 Damallsvenskan Champions.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Piteå squared off against Linköping for the second time this season. Piteå were pushed into their end in the early going of the match.

Suddenly in the 4th minute something horrifying happened. Pitea defender Faith Ikidi collided with Madelaine Edlund and crashed into the fence behind the goal. She suffered a broken leg and was sent to the hospital. This serves ad a major blow for Ikidi. Not only is her club season is in jeopardy but also her chances of playing in the Women's World Cup with Nigeria are at a stand still. (Canada will face Nigeria July 5)

As unfortunate as this injury was, play must go on and Lena Blomkvist stepped in for her teammate.

Linköping continued to press. 32 minutes in, Linköping were awarded with a free kick that reached Kirsten van de Ven who quickly blasted the ball past Labbe. 

The second half, Linköping picked up where they left off--dominating. After creating a number of opportunities, Josefine Öqvist  scored off cross from Katrin Schmidt. 

The game ended 2-0 for Linköping. Piteå shouldn't feel bad about this loss though. They lost to a really good team. Labbe in particular played a great match allowing only 2 goals on 21 shots. 

Atlanta and Western New York draw in WPS week 3

A classic tale of two halves.

After surprisingly earning three points against Sky Blue last week, Atlanta squared off against the Flash who themselves got a W in week 2.

Just two minutes in, Christine Sinclair scored her second goal of the season. Brttany Bock stole the ball from Atlanta, sneaking it to Sinclair who took one touch stepping just outside the 18 and shot the ball without even looking at the net.

The match looked like it was going to go according to plan. Flash dominating play and Beat struggling to keep up.

On the contrary.

After the opening goal, the game was no more exciting than watching Donald Trump's hair fall off.

WNY did dominate the first half, but their forwards weren't producing much. It seemed like the same thing happened over and over again. Atlanta gain possession and made their way down the pitch. Flash break-up play. Ali Riley brings the ball up. Forwards don't connect. Repeat. Needless to say, I don't blame my baby cousin for falling asleep.

However, the bottom half was a completely different game. Right from the get-go Alex Morgan and Flash captain, Caroline Seger connected in the 47th minute and almost produce a goal but the shot whistled high.

Finally, in the 57th minute after being shut down all afternoon by Flash defense, Lori Chalupny tied it up with a screaming strike 20 yards out that hit the inside of the post and in.

Just nine minutes later, second half sub Marta scored a rare header when Sinclair crossed the ball in the 6 yard box, putting the Flash back in the lead.

Back and forth action continued.

Similar to Chalupny's goal, Carli Lloyd leveled the score cutting inside and firing her shot 20 yards out that dipped just under the cross bar.

Play only picked up from there and it became a battle of the 'keepers.

In the 78th minute, Harris tipped Kristina Larsen's bullet over the net.

Then a series of WNY opportunities were turned away by WPS Player of the Week, Alli Lipsher. Most notably she just barely got her finger tips on a hard left footed shot taken by Sinclair that hit the crossbar.

The last minute effort from each side was too late as the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Breaking down Canadians play:

Candace Chapman: In her second straight start of the season, Chappy had little to do in this match due to the lack of Atlanta offense. She took two free kicks. Stepped up late in the game saving Flash from a late Beat goal and made a few offensive runs. Routine game for Chapman.

Kelly Parker: Coming off the bench in the 80th minute, Parker made an immediate impact. Battled hard for the ball, and speedy as usual. Shooting a one-timer shot off a Sinclair pass nearly gave the Flash a goal. Ok, it was offside, but it's nice to see Parker's skill still there after coming off an injury. I feel like a one-woman-Kelly-Parker-ad, she needs to be considered for Canada's WWC roster. At least the next training camp in May.

Christine Sinclair: Also getting her second start of the season. Right from the opening minutes, Christine continued to prove she is one of the world's best by scoring the early goal for WNY. She wasn't able to get too many touches but made the most of what she got. Sinclair set up a beautiful cross on Marta's goal. She also produced many shots on target. She even came back to help out the back line a few times.

Player(s) of the match: Couldn't pick one.

Ali Riley: Continuously made runs up the left flank causing trouble for Beat defense. Created dangerous plays for the forwards and playing physical. Everything you could ask from her, she delivered.

Alli Lipsher: Once again coming up big for Atlanta. Despite giving up 2 goals, Lipsher made big saves for the Beat securing the draw. Don't be surprised if she starts next week.

Lloyd and Chalupny's 1-man show goals deserve a mention. Two incredible snipes that fooled the 'keeper from well out.

Marta also gets a shout out. Coming on in the second half, we got to see that Brazilian flare. Not looking as fit as we normally see her but she still made some great plays. Most notably showing some great technique with her flick on header goal.

WNY didn't come out stomping Atlanta like we all expected. The forwards weren't connecting with Caroline Seger like we saw last week. A lot of the miscommunication probably has to do with the fact these women don't get to play together that often due to international commitments. This team would be unstoppable with more time together.

Credit to Atlanta for holding their own. Playing a 4-1-4-1 format, they completely shut down WNY disallowing them space. The Beat came out to play and with the help of players like Whitehill, Chalupny, and Lipsher they were able to get 1 point over the much acclaimed Flash.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Labbe with Pitea IF

Leaving early from a month long training camp in Rome with the national team, Stephanie Labbe headed to Sweden to play in her 3rd season with Pitea IF in the Damallsvenskan league. 

This past weekend, Steph started for Pitea in their home-opener. Pitea stomped past  Dalsjöfors GoIF winning 5-0.

Fiona O'Sullivan knocked one home in the first half. 

Pitea came out all guns blazing in the second half. 

MVP of the night, Jennifer Nobbis scored the second goal. Pitea's third goal came from June Pedersen. Labbe launched a monster of a kick up the field to Pedersen who burried the ball in the back of the net.  Josefin Johansson and Ericka Carlson finished the scoring with the fourth and fifth goals.  

Dalsjöfors GoIF's Emelie Johansson nearly scored the first goal of the game as her shot beat Labbe but ricocheted off the crossbar. 

Last week Steph was able to preserve a 1-1 draw vs 2009 Damallsvenskan champions, Linköping. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

3 Canadians take part in Flash victory

Sunday April 17th, 2011  the Western New York Flash competed in its inaugural WPS regular season match. Their first victim were the Boston Breakers who just last week bulldozed over the Atlanta Beat in a 4-1 victory.

Right from the get-go both teams battled for possession. WNY created the majority of opportunities, but the Breakers came roaring back in the bottom half of the 1st. It wasn't till the 66th minute where star striker, Christine Sinclair opened the scoring. Rookie Alex Morgan sent a a sqaure ball to Sinclair who took one touch then snuck it past 'keeper Alyssa Naeher.

In the 90th minute, Gemma Davison made a bullet run and whistled the ball past Naeher giving the Flash a 2 nil lead.

In stoppage time, English international, Kelly Smith added more excitement to the game capitilizing on a Cheney rebound that robbed Ashlyn Harris of a clean sheet. The last minute push was a little too late for Boston and the WNY Flash earned its first franchise W.

Breaking down Canadians play: Let's start from the back line up.

Chandace Chapman: Flash seemed to have major defensive problems early on allowing Boston in behind their back line. With a few adjustments Candace was able to effectively break up chances and make offensive runs. Probably her most memorable highlight of the night was late in the game where she blocked a dangerous Breakers shot with her body. All in all good start to the season.

Kelly Parker: Fresh off a foot injury, Parker made a late appearance. She probably played a total of 3 minutes but what from what I saw she's looking fit and hungry. I can't say anything bad about this woman. Agile, fast, great on the ball, quick reflexes, energetic. What I'd really like to know is whether or not she'll be called up for Canada's next training camp. Huge asset to Canada's mid section IMO.

Christine Sinclair: Early in the 1st half Sincy had a great chance to put her side up 1-0 but decided to pass. I see what she was trying to do there, Morgan would have been wide open had that pass gone thru, but Christine really should have been selfish and taken the shot. However she made up for it by scoring WNY first ever goal. Her touch and speed showed up today. She even made some defensive plays.

Credit definitely needs to go to WNY teammates, Alex Morgan and Caroline Seger. It is really hard to wrap my head around the fact that this was Morgan's WPS debut performance. She plays like a veteran. Calm on the ball, able to get past players 1v1 and fast, soft spoken and carries herself well off the pitch. She did miss an open netter to score WNY's first goal but that's one mistake out of the dozens of good things she produced. I absolutely love the Seger-Morgan-Sinclair combo. It's great to watch and can only get better. Christine's comments on the game: “They’re a stacked team, and to come here and get a win, it’s very positive. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. Because of international duties, we haven’t played together too much during the preseason. We’re only going to improve with more time together.”

Player of the Match goes to Caroline Seger. Dominant from start to finish. Seems like every 2 minutes she had the ball at her feet or involved in the play somehow. She had a chance to score early on but her shot was cleared off the line. Caroline is just an all around player, able to help out defensively and create chances up front. Considering the team as a whole haven't been together for long, Seges clicked well with Morgan and Sinclair. It'll be really exciting to see how they fair when they train more often. Marta will be a great addition too.

WNY Flash take on Atlanta Beat April 24th at KSU Soccer Stadium. You can watch live on FSC at 6pm ET.

Boston starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Alex Scott, Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet (Ifeoma Dieke, 80'), Stephanie Cox (Elli Reed, 85'), Leslie Osborne, Keelin Winters, Kelley O'Hara, Taryn Hemmings (Liz Bogus, 69'), Lauren Cheney, Kelly Smith

WNY starting XI: Ashlyn Harris, Candace Chapman, Whitney Engen, Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson, Brittany Bock, Becky Edwards, Caroline Seger, Kaley Fountain (Gemma Davison, 64'), Christine Sinclair, Alex Morgan (Kelly Parker, 90+)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Update: April 5th, 2011

Few things to catch up on

Firstly I've learned more information on the match v Sweden after finding a few game reports.

Swedish head coach, Thomas Dunnerby started his 'A' lineup with the sole exception of the 'keeper. He wanted to see how No. 2 'keeper Sofia Lundgren would hold up as a starter, and what a great decision he made. Apparently she made a huge impact in the game making a series of saves to secure the 1 nil victory.

The Swedes got off to a quick start scoring at the 9 minute mark. Charlotte Rohlin, a fullback  who likes to make offensive runs got on the end of a free kick from Antonia Goransson.

Captain, Christine Sinclair had a great opportunity to even the score but Lundgren got a touch on it.

Scary moment for Big Red as Linda Forsberg had a chance to mark a second goal for Sweden but the ball crashed off the crossbar.

After the game, Sinclair tweeted "Tough to lose a game you think you could have won. Lesson learned, 84 days until the World Cup."

Dunnerby comments "We played a lot of long balls in the first half, but in the second we decided to play more for the ground and it flowed very well for long spells, We played our way to a few well-placed and could have done any more goals."

As much as I love to see this team win, I feel like it was a good loss and came at the right time. After coming off a great 2010 season and winning the Cyprus Cup last month, losing puts things in perspective. Learn and move on. Regardless of the score, friendlies don't count for anything other than experience.

In January, Canada beat Sweden 1-0 at the Four Nations Cup in China.

In other news: During their down time at camp, the ladies have made some pretty funny video blogs about their life in Rome:

Our Game Magazine Blog Part I
Our Game Magazine Blog Part II

Also the ladies are campaigning to get teammate and goalkeeper, Erin McLeod on the Ellen show. If you can, help them out by tweeting the link to @TheEllenShow. Check out Erin showing off her amazing signing talent:

Erin McLeod signing during free time

On another note, Christine is teaming up with espnW writing blogs about their road to the World Cup. Check out the first installment.

Christine Sinclair's Rome: soccer and gelato

Across the pond, the US women's national team competed in a friendly against England. USA fell short to England for the first time in 22 years. Check out All White Kit for an in depth analysis.

It has also come to my attention that Canada has a few more friendlies lined up. I heard at the end of May there should be one. Confirmed on Rhian Wilkinson's website, none of the games will be played in Canada.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Update: April 2nd, 2011

  Today the Canadian women's team engaged in a closed friendly match against Sweden.

  Sweden starting XI: Lundgren, Rohlin, Segerström, Thunebo, Schelin, Görannsson, Nilsson, Öqvist, Forsberg, Dahlkvist, Fischer

  Canada starting XI: LeBlanc, Zurrer, Kyle, Wilkinson, Matheson, Chapman, Sinclair, Schmidt, Tancredi, Filigno, Nault.

  Note: Line-ups written in numerical order tweeted by @CanadaSoccerEN. If I were to re-write it by position it would look like this:

LeBlanc, Nault, Chapman, Zurrer, Wilkinson, Kyle, Matheson, Schmidt, Tancredi, Filigno, Sinclair.

  Since this was a closed match, no broadcast was available so naturally I have no idea how the match panned out. However I do know the final score was 1-0 for the Swedes. Goal scored by Rohlin in the 1st half. As we all know, results don't reflect play. Based on Karina LeBlanc's tweet about the game she stated the ladies created some dangerous chances. Em Zurrer tweeted "we were unfortunate to not score at least 1 of our many chances but overall (good) performance."

  Relying on assumption and tweets I have come to the conclusion  that this was a good loss for the women. Losing puts things in perspective. Best the loss come now than in the World Cup. Learn from mistakes and build. Of course, a championship team already knows this.

In other news: WNY Flash played in a pre-season game against Niagara University. An outstanding 11-0 win for the expansion team. Canada's Kelly Parker capitalized on a scoring opportunity. Other goal scorers: Seger (5), Fountain (3), Goebel (2).

Also, today is Candace Chapman's birthday. Happy Bday, Chappy!!

Report and video courtesy of Radio Canada (in French but video on the Sweden goal):