Way to make an impression in your first start of the season. Danesha Adams didn’t disappoint her Philadelphia Independence teammates or her coach Paul Riley when she turned her start into a one-goal, two-assist performance.
"In fairness to Danesha, she has worked extremely hard over the last 15 weeks to get herself physically fit and mentally prepared,” said Riley. “She has been focused and sharp in practice and I'm very happy she grasped this opportunity with both hands.”
It didn’t take long for her to take advantage – of both her opportunity and a Sky Blue FC team without its regular starting keeper Karen Bardsley.
In just the fifth minute, Amy Rodriguez crossed a ball her way from the right flank and Adams volleyed it home past Sky Blue FC replacement keeper Kristin Luckenbill for the game’s first goal. Adams returned the favor to Rodriguez in the 18th minute, sending a through ball to A-Rod who buried her shot past an onrushing Luckenbill.
Sky Blue drew within one and 11 minutes into the second half, Adams made sure the Independence would be the team to claim sole possession of second place with the win – on top of bouncing back from a tough home loss a week ago to the first-place FC Gold Pride – by assisting on a Joanna Lohman goal, making it a 3-1, insurmountable lead. (Philadelphia went onto win 4-1 and jumped into second, five points behind the Pride.)
“Her goal was top shelf and her assists on the other goals showed her terrific soccer mind,” said Riley.
Riley already has an issue to be dealt with on a weekly basis with his two top-notch goalkeepers in Karina LeBlanc and Val Henderson (LeBlanc earned the start against Sky Blue FC this week). Now, with the emergence of Adams, there is more lineup tinkering he will have to deal with each week. It’s something Riley will embrace.“I hope she grows from this and becomes a major force in the WPS season,” Riley said. “I certainly believe she has the ability and I'm hoping she continues to give me a lineup dilemma every week.”
A season ago with the Chicago Red Stars, Adams got two starts in 12 games and logged 349 minutes, but failed to record any points. Adams has played in five games thus far for the veteran-laden Independence, totaling 115 minutes of playing time. In her start on Saturday, Adams recorded her first WPS points, getting her goal and two assists in 87 minutes of action.
“I’m just happy for Danesha after her disappointments last year at Chicago Red Stars, but this year she has been nothing but professional since day one,” Riley commented. “She earned this start and has proven to me that not only can she compete at this level, she can be a major force at WPS level."
Adams and the Independence have two games this week before the brief break for the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. On Wednesday, Philly heads to Georgia to take on the Atlanta Beat at 7:30 p.m. ET; and on Saturday night, Philadelphia hosts Washington at 6 p.m. ET.
Goal.com contributor Giovanni Albanese Jr. covers FC Gold Pride for Tri-City Voice newspaper in Fremont, Calif. For more on him, follow him on Twitter @GAlbaneseJr
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