I Want To Ride My Bicycle
Whether or not the lyrics of the infamous song by Queen were floating through Lisa De Vanna’s head on Saturday night, it takes something quite something special to pull off a bicycle kick goal. But almost always when successful, the feat stirs a frenzy in the soccer community. And I’m pretty sure for the young fans that witnessed it at Yurcak Field or for those who watched the match stream online, for the next few weeks the only thing that they will want to practice is bicycle kicks.
The goal was a highlight of a short match fixture list for this weekend, due to the USA/Canada game on Sunday. And while half of the teams in the NWSL had the weekend off, the other half had to march out makeshift lineups due to the absence of of the USWNT and CanWNT allocated players. Portland lost four regular starters, Sky Blue and Boston were each without three starters and Chicago had the toughest job of all, where they had to put together almost a completely new back line in play as they faced the Thorns on the road. Sky Blue and Chicago did succeed with putting together their best possible lineups while Boston and Portland faced some realities after this weekend.
You see this in any league across the world, men’s or women’s, that you are only as good as your depth. And now with the US hosting two more friendlies in June against South Korea (June 15th and 20th) and Canada traveling to Germany for a friendly on June 19th, team depth will be at a premium (also to note: Mexico will not be playing any friendlies during this time, so the handful of MexWNT players will be available for NWSL team selection).
So I will be diverting from the usual weekly recap, as it was pretty clear that De Vanna was the player that stood out from the two matches played, though it has to be said as well that Chicago pulled out an impressive result to go on the road with two new players that have only been training with the team for a week and pick up their first win of the season. But instead let’s look at the other four teams that will need to make roster changes due to the international friendlies and which teams will fare better than others. Reminder that all teams should have a full squad to choose from next weekend but then will be without their USWNT and CanWNT allocated players the week after.
The Best of the Bunch
Western New York- The Flash will potentially only lose Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to the USWNT during the stretch, as their Canadian allocated players were not brought into camp for the match against the US and probably won’t be brought in for Germany as well. And the Flash have already had experience replacing both players, as Lloyd missed the first four games of the season and Wambach had to sit out a match early on as well. So expect to see Adriana move up to fill Wambach’s position as the target striker and that would give Sam Kerr a bit more room to run around in front or behind. The one thing to look out for is if Tom Sermanni calls in Adrianna Franch for the two friendlies, meaning the Flash would have to put Pamela Tajonar in goal, who has not seen any action this year. The Flash will be away to Washington and Chicago during the time, so a decent schedule for them to pick up points, especially with a defensively weakened Spirit squad.
Staying the Same
Seattle Regin FC- You can’t really put the Reign down for being as worse than they already are without their allocations, because they won’t be losing much that they haven’t already gained. Sure, Kaylyn Kyle and Emily Zurrer will be missing this stretch during Canada’s game, but they have been shuffled in and out of the lineup so it’s hard to point in that direction. Hope Solo will most likely be gone with the USWNT as well but she’s only played one match this season on her road back to recovery from wrist surgery. And we really still don’t know what the timetable is with the debut of Megan Rapinoe so you can’t say anything about that front either. Seattle plays away to Portland for the last time of the season during that time period and always seems to play well in those games, despite two tough losses. But here’s the wildcard in this: Wales plays two matches during this time against Slovakia, according to FIFA’s match listing. So if Jessica Fishlock plays for her country, the Reign will be in real trouble. So keep an eye out for news on that front.
Washington Spirit- There may be some interesting factors when talking about the Spirit here during this time, they will lose four players during this period with Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger gone to the US and Robyn Gayle and Diana Matheson to Canada. But the Spirit have some reinforcements when it comes to this problem. We know that Chantel Jones is a solid goalkeeper and can step in nicely for Harris. Defense might be a little bit of an issue, with Krieger and Gayle out, but potentially this is where the Spirit dig into their resources with the Spirit Reserves W-League team. They are managed by Spirit Assistant Coach Mark Parsons, so the game style from the Spirit Reserves to the NWSL Spirit shouldn’t be much different and there are a few players on the Spirit Reserves that were trialists during the preseason, so they have experience playing for the first team. And in midfield, Mexican international Lupita Worbis has arrived to the team, which should provide some depth there especially during this time. The Spirit only have to face Western New York at home, so if they can figure out a plan to hold the Flash off for 90 minutes and get some points, that would be big.
Might Not Be So Good
FC Kansas City- The Blues may run into some problems during this stretch in June. First off, they only have 18 players on their roster as it is, plus a couple listed as reserve but not taking full advantage of the 20 you are allowed within NWSL rules. Second, while it was great at the time that Kristie Mewis was available for the Blues to draft in the College Draft, you had to figure that she would be with the USWNT eventually during the season. With the Blues rostering six national team players, that brings their active roster to 12 players with only one goalkeeper. I’m not so worried about Bianca Henninger in goal, but both FCKC’s center backs will be with their national teams as well as basically their entire midfield, minus Jen Buczkowski. So with the two reserves that they have, Vlatko Andonovski will need to recruit some other talent to suit up and potentially play some important minutes. While the internationals are gone, they will have a home-and-home with Chicago, who have played very well against Portland while short staffed. Plus they have a match against the Spirit at home three days after the break is over and it will be interesting to see how they legs are on each of the internationals at that point. These will be crucial matches for the Blues as the middle of the season rolls around, if they want to stay in the hunt for prime playoff position, they will need points from these matches.
….now back to the usual
Week Nine Match to Watch For
Boston Breakers vs. Western New York Flash, Wednesday June 5, 7pm Local Time, Dilboy Stadium Somerville, MA
This match is going to be crucial for both sides with the weeks that each team has. Boston is coming off of a shellacking against Sky Blue where not much was going on for them on a positive note. But the thing that will keep the Breakers motivated is that they will want to quickly erase the memory. Plus throw in that possibly Alyssa Naeher will make her Breakers return that night, pending league and International Transfer Certificate approval. On the other side for the Flash, it will be a tough week of games. After the match against the Breakers they will face Sky Blue in New Jersey on Saturday. So it will be important for them to get on a positive start on this road trip. Watch out for Sam Kerr in this game (if you haven’t already). She has been in quite a good form lately and can run rings around outside backs. If she is on the same flank as Heather O’Reilly, it could turn into quite an interesting match-up.
Week Eight Results
Portland Thorns FC 0-2 Chicago Red Stars
Sky Blue FC 5-1 Boston Breakers
Just to watch the De Vanna Bike one more time….
JJ Duke graduated from Rider University in New Jersey with a degree in Digital Media Studies. While his playing days may have ended back in high school, he still prides himself of being a decent shot-stopper and an all-around fanatic of the beautiful game (fervent supporter of Manchester United and the founder of a Rider supporters group, the 206 Ultras). He is the Student General Manager at 107.7 The Bronc at Rider and has contributed to various local newspaper and Web sites in the Trenton, NJ area of high school and collegiate sports including The Rider News and Fish4Scores.com. He became involved with Our Game Magazine early in 2012 when upon following OGM on Twitter, he was contacted within minutes (which caught him by surprise) by Tiffany about working with the team. After spending the summer covering the USL W-League and the WPSL-Elite league as an intern, he is looking forward to continue working with the OGM team, especially on games in the US.