CARSON, Calif. --The Los Angeles Sol and the Boston Breakers of Women's Professional Soccer battled to a scoreless tie on Sunday, in some ways befitting their positions as the top two teams in the league.
The Sol dominated the first half of action, creating some excellent
chances at goal. Boston rallied to turn in a second half where they saw
more of the possession and manufactured opportunities of their own, but
nothing came together completely for either team to score.
Eager to avenge their only loss in league play thus far, when they fell
to the Breakers in Boston, the Sol came out energetically on their home
Star forward Marta was in the mix immediately. In one thrilling run,
she beat two Boston defenders, changing directions with the ball so
quickly that one defender fell down trying to stop. However, once Marta
crossed the ball into open space in front of the goal, it became clear
that the effort was a waste, as no Sol teammate had yet arrived in that
prime position for the score.
The Sol's other forward, Han Duan, also saw an excellent chance go for
naught. The Chinese striker gathered in a long pass, getting behind the
Breakers' defense in the 38th minute. Duan cut to the inside to avoid a
defender and then slotted past the charging goalkeeper, Kristen
Luckinbill. Unfortunately for Duan and the Sol, the ball hit off the
Without a single shot on goal in the match, Marta seemed to be focused
on setting up her teammates, though Sol coach Abner Rogers lamented
that generosity somewhat.
"We would like her to be a little bit more selfish," Rogers explained,
though he also mentioned attempting to send players forward to meet
Marta's speedy runs. "We're trying to get players a little higher on
field to help her out."
Breakers star Kelly Smith acknowledged that even without shots on goal, Marta was a handful to deal with.
"She's just so fast and skillful; she's so hard to defend," said Smith. "She is the best player in the world."
Despite a couple of golden looks at goal, the Sol couldn't finish and the teams went into the break tied at nil
Breakers coach Tony DiCicco probably pushed his team to respond in the second half, and Boston did maintain better possession.
The East Coast team also brought more of an edge to their play. Angela
Hucles was given a yellow for a tough foul on Aya Miyama, after the
first half saw no cards at all. In the second half, however, four were
eventually handed out, two to each squad.
With Boston improved the Sol struck more on counterattack, trying to disrupt Boston's passing game.
the 52nd minute, Marta played a little defense racing back to gather a
ball that was bouncing free near the edge of the box. She cleared it
with an overhead semi-bicycle kick that drew cheers from the crowd.
Smith and Kristin Lilly controlled most of passes for Boston, but had trouble breaking any players free with goal chances.
"I think the heat affected Kelly a little," said DiCicco, explaining
that the weather in Southern California, especially with the 1 p.m.
kickoff, was much warmer than in Boston.
Stephanie Cox of the Sol was charged with keeping Lilly in check and managed her former U.S. women's national teammate well.
"It's different in a game, when you have to bump them and stuff," said Cox of facing other USWNT players. "But it's a good challenge, because they are key players."
In the 70th minute Marta again broke free, beat a defender into the box
with one move, then touched a pass back to Duan. Unfortunately, Duan
passed up a shot with her unfavored left foot, then lost the ball
before she could shoot with her right.
Boston created a couple of late corner kick chances, but Karina LeBlanc
punched out the most threatening of Lilly's kicks into the box and the
game finished all even, with the squads splitting the points.
"We didn't win the game, but we're happy with some aspects of our game,
because we've come away from home and we haven't lost," said Smith. "We
didn't have too many shots on target to threaten the goalkeeper. LA had
a couple of good chances in the first half, but it wasn't their day."
As a promotion for that game, the Sol had promised attending fans that
a win in the game would result in a free ticket for everyone at the
match. However, Rogers denied feeling any pressure from the
"I wasn't even aware of that; I stick to what I need to do," said Rogers.
To him, the crux of the game was clear. "In the first
half, we were the better team and we created opportunities -we just
didn't put them away," Rogers said.
Andrea Canales, Goal.com
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