July 27, 2010 > FC Gold Pride continues its winning ways
FC Gold Pride continues its winning ways
WPS' top team wins two on the road to extend win streak to five
By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
FC Gold Pride just continues to win - no matter what the style, nor the players who contribute. Last week, the Pride went on the road to win twice and extend its Women's Professional Soccer-best fifth straight game.
In the Pride's first line of work for the week, they went into Boston on Wednesday, July 21, to take on a Breakers club that had won three straight going into the match. All things looked as if it was going to go the Breakers way when Jordan Angeli scored a goal in the 30th minute, but the Pride bounced right back.
Six minutes after Boston went up 1-0, Christine Sinclair evened the match with her eighth goal of the season in the 36th minute. It was pivotal to get that goal, according to Sinclair.
"It was huge in this league to come back. It doesn't happen often when you fall behind," said Sinclair. "So to respond that quickly was obviously very important for us."
And the Gold Pride completed its come-from-behind win when, just nine minutes later - and just prior to halftime - Marta scored to put the league leaders up for good. Marta, a two-time WPS all star, WPS MVP, four-time FIFA World Player of the Year, added to her mantle when she shot a rocket past Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher, totaling 11 on the season - a new WPS record.
More importantly, it gave the Gold Pride a 2-1 lead, which they would hold onto for victory. Despite them winning their fourth straight, and ending Boston's streak at three, Breakers coach Tony DiCicco thought his club performed admirably.
"I was proud of the way the team played and we are still in the hunt here," said DiCicco. "But this was a game that I think we really could have gotten a result from."
But in the end - outplayed or not - the Gold Pride left Harvard Stadium with its fourth straight, and the 3,064 fans bumming over a one-goal defeat. (Boston later went to Chicago on Sunday, July 25, and beat the Red Stars, 3-1, to jump into third place - they were sixth entering the week - which surely made their fans ecstatic.)
Gold Pride left Harvard Stadium, jumped on a bus, and rode down to Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., for a Saturday, July 24, tilt with Abby Wambach and the Washington Freedom. (The typical six-hour ride from Boston to Maryland took the club 12 hours due to excessive traffic on the interstate highway.)
Twelve hour trip or not, the Pride were rested, and came out holding onto possession. Washington hadn't won a game since May 30, and its streak continued on Saturday when the Pride handed them a 4-1 loss on their home field in front of 4,809 of its fans.
With temperatures reaching triple digits, Gold Pride came out looking to possess the ball and conserve its energy. When they had the opportunity to strike, they did. Its first quality chance came in the 18th minute and they made good on that.
Tiffeny Milbrett ran at her defender and was dispossessed. But the deflection by Becky Sauerbrunn went right to Sinclair, who streaked into the box before sliding a pass over to Milbrett in the goal mouth. On her first attempt at goal, Milbrett was stopped by Erin McLeod. However, the rebound popped up to Milbrett's head and she batted it in the goal for the 1-0 edge.
Wambach equalized the game in the 42nd minute when she collected the rebound off of Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart from a Beverly Goebel shot. At the half, the two sides were deadlocked at 1-apiece.
But the second half was a different story. While the Pride continued to possess the ball well, they put home three goals - two by Marta, one by Milbrett - to blow the game wide open.
Marta's first of two, the game winner, came in the 59th minute. Sinclair faced up and got the ball with her back to the goal, turned and sent a through ball to space for Marta. And WPS' leading scorer added to her total, tallying her 12th of the season by nutmegging McLeod for the go-ahead goal.
Then, in the 84th minute, Marta had a replica goal to the one she scored off McLeod and the Freedom in the Pride's 3-2 home win over DC on July 11. In that game, Marta dribbled around McLeod before calmly sliding the ball in for a then 2-0 lead.
On Saturday, Marta again had the ball in the box and faked McLeod left before cutting right, then sliding the ball in for a 3-1 lead. On the play, McLeod was severely injured (what looked to be a ligament tear) and needed to come off the pitch.
Already having used its three subs, defender Cat Whitehill manned the net for the final six-plus minutes. Whitehill was picked apart by a perfectly-placed Milbrett shot in the 89th minute. Sinclair played a ball to the former U.S. national team midfielder, who showed her goal-scorer's touch, burying the upper 90 for her second goal of the match and the 4-1 lead.
FC Gold Pride improved to 12-3-1, totaling 37 points with the win, and extended its lead in first over the second-place Philadelphia Independence (7-5-3, 24 points) to 13 points. Washington (4-6-5, 17 points), now on an eight-game winless streak, dropped out of the WPS top four, and on the outside of the playoff picture.
Next up for the Gold Pride, they look to win its sixth straight game at the venue the streak started - KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. There, they will take on the Atlanta Beat (3-7-4, 13 points) on Sunday, Aug. 1, at 2 p.m. It can be viewed on Fox Soccer Channel, or via webcast on www.womensprosoccer.com.