Finally. All the talk, all the blather, all the hype - that's over and done with. At last, at long long last, we can talk about on-field action again.
Weird day in WPS yesterday. Just when I thought teams were starting to gel, something like this happens. The joy of parity - fifth place New Jersey strolls into Cambridge, punches the Breakers in the snoot, then botch a 3-1 lead at home. You can neither figure out, nor ignore, any team's chances, even this late.
But I'll give it a shot.
1. I really think Los Angeles is giving off a serious "We're going to be upset in the final" vibe. They're very lucky there are so many defenders apparently waiting for calls that, say, the Washington Freedom refuse to make. This week, the Sol added Atlanta Beat and Canada veteran Sharolta Nonen in for the injured Shaner in for the pregnant Franko. Presumably she and LeBlanc won't have too many jitters, but if Nonen is still that darn good, well, where has she been, huh? Even Tiffeny Milbrett came back.
The Soldiers can take the next three games off and still probably host the final - and they probably will. This is me being pessimistically defensive about actually seeing a winner in the HDC this year, but I got a bad feeling. I mean, I thought I saw effin' Jim Rome on the Sol home page! (standing behind Marta posting for a picture on the red carpet. If it isn't him, then it speaks very poorly for my mental state. And if it was him, why wasn't I reading to day how Marta clocked the guy?)
2. Saint Louis has to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now. The Athleticans have at least a game on everyone except the hapless Pride, and were the second professional women's club to win in Carson, like, ever. And former Solarian defender Kendall Fletcher has the secret to irritating Marta - defend against her. Theoretically, the A's can't win at home - but then again, they may still be getting used to playing in Fenton (the home of happiness! - never mind). The Green Mile are tough, determined, fully equipped with shoulder chips thanks to people like me writing them off before the season, and even have Daniela's season-ending injury as inspiration. They'll be very annoying underdogs indeed, unless Boston beats them at home.
FC Joan of Arch (GOD, I'm hilarious) finishes the year with four games in the Beer Garden. All told, they'll play everyone but LA in the home stretch, who they already beat. They won't finish first, but they can go ahead and schedule the semifinal, and get to work on not choking in that game.
3. As of this writing, the Breakers have six wins, six losses, sixteen goals for, sixteen goals against. If the season were to end today, Breakers fans would be spared two more home games, including a rerun of Sunday's crash-landing against New Jersey. Whether it's the Harvard turf, or FSC cameras unable or unwilling to adjust to soccer in sun and shadow, watching Breakers home games on the teevee is a real chore. At least we didn't see yesterday's game. I don't know for a fact it was garbage, but...
At home. Against the sixth place team. Tell me that doesn't sound Satanically awful. I don't know why I'm all smiley about Saint Louis being tough and Boston being dull. Maybe I'm just surprised Boston made it this far after being unable to sign their first round college pick.
4. Sky Blue were dead last this year...but then, I think everyone but the Sol has spent at least a week in dungeon, so I can't hold that against them. I can hold the Freedom game against them, though. Yeah, the Freedom pulled a similar stunt on FC Gold Pride, but where are they in the table? Irritatingly, if the season did end with the current standings, New Jersey would go to Boston (where they just won, and may win again next week), then go to St. Louis (where the A's have the worst home record outside NorCal), and then have a shot at the overconfident Sol. At least Kai's playing well.
Very stupid of them to have gagged against the Freedom, though.
5. The Freedom have shown a lot of resilience and character in coming back from...you know what, screw it. They've given up the most goals in the league, they have no keepers, Whitehill booming kicks to the moon is their most reliable offensive threat, and Abby has been short for "abominable."
Pretty favorable end of year schedule, though. That 4-4 game may be what sends them into the playoffs, as close as this year has been. I hope not. The Freedom this year have been Bompastor and crap.
6. Chicago can't possibly be as bad as they showed in Carson, but...okay, their next home game is Bobblehead Night, where you can get either Carli Lloyd or Abby Wambach.
"But doesn't Wambach play for -" Yes, my point exactly. The whole league barring the Sol also has a game in hand on them, too. It's not over yet, but it's never too early to ask where it all went wrong.
7. Like, for example, the Gold Pride. If you had told me before the season that Chastain and Sissi would come back on the roster, and that their second leading scorer would be Milbrett, I'd have said "Wow, that's a great story! They'll be awful, though." I think their season ended when Marta injured Kandace Wilson, to be quite honest. They didn't win that game and haven't won since, after all.
Okay, they DO have four home games out of six remaining. But they gotta play the A's twice and the Sol once, and in any case every single game on the schedule (except maybe the LA game) will be hugely meaningful to the opponent. Plus, they haven't won since May. There's nothing saying they can't come roaring back and start the hot streak all the way to Carson in August...except their age and lack of talent.
Well...parity or no parity, I'm going to call the final participants - Saint Louis at Los Angeles. Dunno who's gonna win yet, though.