WPS Previews: Week 20 Part Two

There are three games left. Three teams are still vying for two playoff spots. Saturday night, things could become a bit more clear. But with the final whistle in Sunday's first match, the playoff field will be set.
The final week of the Women’s Professional Soccer inaugural season is here. Week 20 wraps up with three games and three teams still trying to secure a playoff spot. There are two up for grabs. There are three playoff games. The first match will feature team no. 3 and no. 4 on August 15th at 4:00 p.m. ET. August 19th, Saint Louis Athletica will host the winner of the first match. And August 22nd, the Los Angeles Sol will host the championship match.
 

Washington Freedom vs. Sky Blue FC, Saturday August 8 at 7:00 p.m. ET, Maryland SoccerPlex, Germantown, MD


The Washington Freedom and Sky Blue FC enter Saturday’s match with identical records of 7-7-5, 26 points. There are many scenarios that could lead either club to the playoffs. However, the easiest solution is a win. A win by either club gives the team 29 points and a sure ticket to playoff action.

Sky Blue recently went through a third coaching change. But a familiar face – captain and interim head coach Christie Rampone leads the club in its final regular season match. Rampone debuted Wednesday as head coach and saw the club to a 2-0 win over FC Gold Pride. Rosana and Natasha Kai each tallied goals in the win. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley received the starting nod just before game-time and led the club to a shutout.

Washington wins the tiebreaker with Sky Blue, at this point. The clubs have met twice with the Freedom earning a win and a draw against SBFC. The last time out, the Freedom dropped a 3-2 decision to FC Gold Pride, keeping them idle in the standings. But the two goals help them remain top of the league in goals scored with 29. However they’ve also allowed more goals than any other club with 31.

In their last five matches, Washington has earned a 3-1-1 record, outscoring opponents 11-9. Sky Blue has posted a 2-1-2 record in that span. Since the beginning of June SBFC has lost just three matches with seven goals (five allowed) and three shutouts.

The last time Washington and Sky Blue faced off the teams exploded for a 4-4 draw. This time out, even more is up for grabs, with the winner heading to the playoffs. Expect Sky Blue to keep up the intensity, but Washington to hold strong. It will be a battle until the final whistle.


Boston Breakers vs. Los Angeles Sol, Sunday August 9 at 6:00 p.m. ET, Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, MA


The Boston Breakers  (7-8-4, 25 points) need just one point to make the playoffs… in theory. Again there are many scenarios for the fifth-place Breakers. They’ll know for sure when they hit the pitch Sunday evening what their chances are. It all depends on the Washington-Sky Blue contest. But again, their best way into the playoffs is to earn a win.

Boston needs this win if the club has any hopes of making the playoffs. The Breakers have dropped their last two matches by 1-0 results to the Washington Freedom and Saint Louis Athletica. Prior to that they were on a three-game unbeaten streak, with a 2-0-1 record. The Breakers lead the season series with Los Angeles 1-0-1. But what really matters, is where they stand against Sky Blue and Washington. Boston would win the tiebreaker over Washington, but would fall to Sky Blue.

The Los Angeles Sol (11-3-5, 38 points) will play their last match before hosting the championship on August 22nd. They’ll look to fine-tune the lineup and continue on their dominating campaign. The Sol has many records on their side – most wins, most shutouts, fewest goals allowed, most goals by an individual player, greatest goal differential. They defied the odds in their inaugural campaign, becoming the must-beat team of the WPS. Only three teams have accomplished that feat – Boston Breakers, Saint Louis Athletica and Chicago Red Stars They’ll most likely take it a little easy, but will still be pushing for the win.

Los Angeles has lost two of its last three matches, posting a 2-2-1 record in its last five games. Losing isn’t something the Sol has gotten accustomed to. But that being said, Los Angeles has still managed to outscore opponents 6-4 during that span with three shutouts.

Boston has everything on the line heading into this match, while Los Angeles will just look to perfect their skills. The Breakers have had success against Los Angeles, can they keep it up for the big game? Expect it to be possible, but not too probable.


FC Gold Pride vs. Saint Louis Athletica, Sunday August 9 at 8:00 p.m. ET, Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA


FC Gold Pride (4-10-5, 17 points) will be looking for a win to tie them with the Chicago Red Stars (5-10-5, 20 points) for sixth place in the standings. The Pride finally found its winning combination last Saturday earning its first win since May in a 3-2 victory over Washington. In their last five matches, FCGP has earned a 1-2-2 record.

But in the fourth meeting of the season between these two clubs, it’s Saint Louis that has the advantage. Athletica has earned a 2-0-1 record against FCGP, including outscoring them 3-1 with two shutouts.

Saint Louis (10-6-3, 33 points) is relatively unbeatable lately. The last time out, Athletica earned a solid 2-0 win over the Red Stars to end Chicago’s season. Saint Louis has earned a 3-1-1 record in its last five matches, including four straight unbeaten games and three shutouts. Athletica is in great post-season form.

Saint Louis already earned a second-place finish in the standings and will host the WPS Super Semifinal on August 19th. They’re peaking at the right time and will use this final match to fine-tune their skills for the playoffs. FC Gold Pride has their pride on the line. But Athletica may just be a roadblock in their hunt for a sixth-place finish.
 
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