Sol 0 Sky Blue FC 1
A team that barely got into the playoffs has just beaten the dominant team of the regular season.
It was that sort of day for the Sol and Marta (AP Photo).
The Sol never got their attack in sync today; frankly there was more urgency in the line outside the women’s restroom at half time.
FC Sky Blue outplayed them in virtually every facet of the game, especially with a defense marshaled by central defender Jen Buczkowski alongside player-coach Christie Rampone.
Torrance’s Shannon Boxx perhaps had the best Sol chance of the second half with a rasping 72nd minute shot that required a diving save from Sky Blue goalkeeper Jenni Branham.
Marta couldn’t even hit the target from a stoppage time free kick and the league’s highest-paid player surely should have done better than that.
Does this make Christie Rampone Coach of the Year, despite her short tenure? (Yes)
Was the straight red the deciding factor or the generally lethargic air around the Sol? (No and yes)
The Sol will literally leave this game with nothing; there are no medals for the losing team.
MVP was Sky Blue’s Heather O’Reilly
It was blue skies for Sky Blue FC after beating the Sol at Home Depot Center.
Here’s Sol Coach Abner Rogers on his team’s performance:
“They started it off very well, they got the upper hand, we gave them too much space. … Had we got a goal I think we would have gone on and won the game.”
Here’s Rogers on the straight red card in the first half:
“I didn’t feel it was a red card, it was a poor decision. … Stephanie Cox was a covering player, it wasn’t a last defender (call) and there wasn’t a blatant tackle. It was a clumsy tackle and it was a questionable yellow.”
Key stat: The shots were 9-1 in favor of Sky Blue FC in the first half and 7-3 in favor of the Sol in the second.
BTW, referee Kari Seitz said in a written response to questions after the game that Allison Falk’s red card had nothing to do with whether she intended to foul Natasha Kai or not. Instead she took into consideration the distance between the foul and the goal, the likelihood of Kai keeping the ball had she not been challenged, “the location and number of defenders” and the fact Kai was “denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.”
I’m not sure that clears much up.
Here’s Sky Blue player-coach Christie Rampone (sporting a 4-1 record at the helm after taking over July 29) on whether she wants to keep the job next season:
“I still want to play the game. I’m retiring as coach for now until I’m done playing.”
Here’s MVP Heather O’Reilly on the end to the season and the unexpected success of the team:
“It’s very surreal. I don’t think its sunk in. … The irony of the entire story was just incredible.”
Here’s Sol goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc on the absence of Camille Abily:
“Camille is a fantastic player, she creates a lot. Obviously we miss her and I’d be lying if I told you we didn’t … It could have been the same result. it could have been better.”
Finally, here’s Rogers’ illuminating response on why the Sol lost:
“We lost the game because we didn’t score any goals – that’s the bottom line.”
Remember, you read it here first.
Psst: Wanna party with the WPS champions? Well, don’t tell anyone you read this here, but I’m told they will be celebrating at Hennessey’s on Pier Plaza in Hermosa Beach.
Updated: BTW, a Home Depot Center staff member I know really well showed me a pic he took from the camera on his cell phone of the blackboard in the Sky Blue locker room after the team had left (I should have had him e-mail it to me). It read: “Shit outta luck.”
Which pretty much summed up the the Sol’s day.
Updated: here’s a complete game story from the victor’s perspective.