FC GOLD PRIDE WINS 2010 WPS CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE
September 27, 2010
As reported on www.womensprosoccer.com/:
HAYWARD, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2010) -- Just as they lorded over the league during a dominant regular season, FC Gold Pride asserted themselves as the best team in WPS with a 4-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Independence to win the WPS Championship presented by Citi in front of 5,228 at Pioneer Stadium on Sunday.
The host Pride showed no ill-effects from having not played a league match in 15 days and the weary Independence finally lost their legs and eventually their resolve on a day when they had little to no meaningful possession.
Such was the thorough nature of FC Gold Pride's domination that when it was over, many were questioning whether last year's cellar dwellers had turned themselves into the best club team in the relatively brief history of women's soccer.
"For 90 minutes it was the best game we played all year," said Christine Sinclair, who finished two easy chances in front of goal. "And we knew coming into the game that they were most likely going to be a little tired after playing two games and traveling a bunch. It was just a matter of meeting their intensity the first 20 minutes of the game."
Gold Pride not only met the Independence's intensity, they overwhelmed it, immediately settling into a possession rhythm that had the visitors on their heels early.
"As a coach you've got two choices," Paul Riley said of running his team out for a third match in seven days-the first two of which went extra time. "You freshen your lineup up and go with a little bit less of the players that got you there. Or you go with the players who got you there. That's what I decided to do and 20 minutes into the game I was second guessing myself I'll tell you that."
It seemed only a matter of time before FC Gold Pride put one in the net. It finally arrived in the 17th minute when Sinclair found the net open at the end of a frantic sequence in front of and involving Val Henderson.
Shannon Boxx sent in the initial cross that Marta was able to bring down at the far post. Henderson squared up and made two top-notch saves on Marta. Next up was Tiffeny Milbrett, and her shot eluded Henderson only to be cleared off the line by Nikki Krzysik. Camille Abily took a fourth shot, and Henderson got that one as well. The fifth time was the charm for Sinclair, who raced to the Gold Pride bench where the reserves tossed their green and orange pinnies high to the sky.
In the 29th, Kandace Wilson made a run to the center of the park where she laid it off to Marta and motioned to space on the right side where she wanted the ball back. It appeared that Allison Falk had superior position, but the smaller Wilson stuck with it and blasted a shot that beat Henderson to make it 2-0.
"I guess it's a bit of miscommunication. Falk and I expected different things from each other there," Henderson said. "I was expecting her to clear it. She was expecting me to come out."
"But I came around her and I don't think she expected me to," Wilson said. "I just stuck my left foot out and tried to put as much pressure on her as I could. I actually didn't think I was going to get the ball with my left foot, but I guess the harder I try the outcome comes."
Riley said he still had hope coming out of halftime that his team could turn it around, but that hope was short lived. In the 53rd minute, Marta-who was named MVP of the WPS Championship-calmly dribbled the ball into the box and drew a slew of players out left and then laid off a simple pass to Sinclair who was rushing the far post to help the Canadian international become the first two-goal scorer in a WPS final.
"That third goal was the backbreaker," Riley said.
The rest of the game was little more than Gold Pride continuing to dominate on the ball while the Independence waited out the inevitable. On the hour, Lianne Sanderson was able to sneak behind the defense, but the Gold Pride back four quickly caught up and the ensuing cross was cleared off the back post by Ali Riley. A later chance in the 78th from substitute and WPS Super Semifinal heroine Danesha Adams went wanting hopelessly high.
Gold Pride tried to get Marta on the scoreboard which they finally did a minute into stoppage time when Wilson returned the favor with a well-placed cross that Marta volleyed home with her famous left foot.
"I thought my heart was going to stop, it was so cold," said Montoya, likely contradicting the opinions of most of Gold Pride's largest crowd of the year who sat through one of the hottest days this year in the Bay Area.
As for the Independence, Saturday's tough talk about having one more game left in their legs was nowhere to be found in the aftermath of what was a disappointing finish to a fine debut season.
"The playoff system got the better of us," captain Lori Lindsey said. "Usually we bring a lot of pizzazz and excitement to the game and we just couldn't bring it today."
FC Gold Pride (17-3-5) vs. Philadelphia Independence (10-11-4)
BAY: Christine Sinclair 1 (Unassisted) 16'
FC GOLD PRIDE - Nicole Barnhart, Kandace Wilson, Candace Chapman (Kristen Graczyk, 80'), Rachel Buehler, Ali Riley, Shannon Boxx (Kiki Bosio, 75'), Camille Abily (Kelley O'Hara, 66'), Becky Edwards, Tiffeny Milbrett, Christine Sinclair, Marta
Substitutes Not Used: Carrie Dew, Niki Cross, Brittany Cameron, Kimberly Yokers
PHILADELPHIA INDEPENDENCE - Val Henderson, Nikki Krzysik, Allison Falk, Estelle Johnson, Holmfridur Magnusdottir, Lori Lindsey (Danesha Adams, 58'), Jen Buczkowski, Caroline Seger (Lyndsey Patterson, 74'), Tina DiMartino, Amy Rodriguez, Lianne Sanderson (Heather Mitts, 64')
Substitutes Not Used: Karina LeBlanc, Sara Larsson, Sarah Senty, Kelly Henderson
Referee: Jennifer Bennett
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.