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Philadelphia Independence 0-0 Atlanta Beat

photo by Michael Long

While the Union were probably content to grab a point on the road in Colorado, the Independence will feel disappointed not to grab all three as they dominated Atlanta but could not find a breakthrough on Saturday night. Atlanta, the bottom team in the WPS standings, came into the game playing for the draw and did well to stay compact and behind the ball for most of the match. But Philadelphia will rue their missed chances in a game they thoroughly dominated from the opening whistle.

With star striker Amy Rodriguez away with the USWNT, coach Paul Riley elected to push usual center midfielder Lianne Sanderson up top play along side Tasha Kai. The decision can be questioned, as it seemed the Independence were only missing the final pass for most of the evening, a pass that Sanderson can often supply. Kai’s effort cannot be doubted as she flew around the field with little concern for her own body. She laid out for headers, dove in for tackles, and chased the ball tirelessly. But it was her finishing Philadelphia really needed on the day, but it just wasn’t there.

It should have been Kai on 26 minutes when she found herself clean through on goal on the left side. She chose to shoot early and her effort drifted just over the bar. Christina DiMartino and Sanderson both had chances of their own that they could not find the target with as the half wore on. It would be Sanderson with the best chance of the game just before the stroke of half time.

After the ball was played into the box from a wide position, Atlanta keeper Allison Whitworth spilled the cross, leaving the ball bouncing in the box. Rookie midfielder Sinead Farrelly was the quickest to react, touching the ball away from the keeper, Whitworth grabbed clumsily to try and regain the ball, but could only grab Farrelly’s legs. A clear penalty. Sanderson stepped up for the spot kick, but her weak shot to the right of the keeper was easily saved by Whitworth. It wouldn’t have been any less than Philadelphia deserved and the miss really seemed to sap their confidence as they headed into the locker room.

The second half brought more of the same. Philadelphia piled on the pressure and Atlanta continued to retreat. Only arriving in the US this week from Spain, new signee Veronica Boquette was brought on in the 53 minute for Farrelly. The Spaniard was lively and her quality was clear, but standing at only about 5’5 and not accustomed to the speed and physicality of the US league, she struggled to find her feet early on. She would have a chance to make her mark later in the match, though.

It was another substitute that had the best chance to finally break the deadlock. Danisha Adams was introduced in the 66th minute for the frustrated Sanderson and ten minutes later she found herself chasing a ball over the top into the Atlanta box. She narrowly beat out Whitworth who was caught out with the goal gaping. But Adams’ side-footed shot from the right edge of the box narrowly rolled past the far post. The angle was difficult and Adams was at full stride, but the striker will feel that she should have done better.

On 81 minutes, it was Boquette with the chance to have a dream debut. She found herself in acres of space on the right side as Philadelphia counterattacked. The ball found her and she was in on Whitworth from about 30 yards out. The keeper timed her slide perfectly to make the save as Boquette tried to shoot to the left and the chance went begging. That was to be the last quality chance of the match and the frustration was visible as the final whistle went.

The loss of the USWNT members was felt as you would believe that the finishing and tenacity of Amy Rodriguez and the creativity of Megan Rapinoe would have added another level to the Independence game. Even Riley admitted after the match, “I would think with A-Rod in the line up tonight she could gotten a couple for us.” But the Independence did create chances and will rue their finishing on the evening. A trip to first place Western New York awaits Philadelphia next weekend and a better effort will be required to even get a point on the road.

Paul Riley quotes:

“It feels like a loss, no question. When you’re playing the bottom team at home you’ve got to get three points.”

“The [missed] penalty was a momentum breaker. If we score there, we probably go on to win comfortably in the second half because they would have had to come at us.”

“We tried for width, we tried the diamond, we tried coming inside, we tried going over the top, we tried to play through them and they did just enough to put us off. ”

“We haven’t had much luck the past few weeks and you need a bit of luck when you go through a phase like this.”

On Veronica Boquette:

“I think she’s a top player. Probably one of the five best in the world as a footballer. She needs a good week of training to be honest though and it was a risk to throw her on tonight. But she was so impressive in the five aside in training that we figured what do we have to lose?”

“She’s probably the key signing with the World Cup players being away…I think she could be the one to carry us with A-Rod being gone, we might have to lean on her for goals.”

Player Ratings

G Val Henderson – 8

Not much work for Henderson who is replacing Nicole Barnhart (with the USWNT). Was vocal and controlled her defense all evening though and made the few saves she was asked to.

RB Estelle Johnson – 7

Not a lot of work for the right back, starting in front of Leigh Ann Robinson for the first time this season. Joined the offense on occasion with some good runs down the right side, but failed to find much quality service.

CB Nikki Krzysik – 7

The captain is a quiet leader on the pitch. Nothing flashy, no show-stopping tackles. But lots of assured interceptions and comfortable passes out of the back.

CB Kia McNeill – 9

Very solid game for the center back. She was dominant in the air and was a force in breaking up what little attack Atlanta did muster.

LB Homfridur Magnusdottir – 7

An improvement over the last few games for the Icelandic converted striker. Not straddled with much defensive responsibility, she took the opportunity to join the attack whenever she could. Was one of the few players to try her luck from distance, but could not trouble Whitworth much.

RM Joanna Lohman – 7

Finally cracking the starting line up after a good week of training, Lohman was involved moving down the right side. She combined well with Farrelly for much of the first half but often could not deliver the final ball from the wing.

CM Jen Buczkowski – 9

Buczkowski was almost flawless in her defensive midfield position. Moved the ball from the defense to the playmakers very well. Was always available for a relief pass. I can’t think of a bad touch she made all game. Atlanta didn’t muster much attack, but much of what they did was broken up by Buczkowski before they could even leave their end.

CM Sinead Farrelly – 7

A better game for the rookie than the last few. Was lively and on the ball in the first half, finding good passes. Did well to win the PK.

LM Christina DiMartino – 7

Once again, probably the best Independence player on the ball. Continually drove at the back line of Atlanta. But could not find that final pass. She’s been quality all season, but she’ll eventually have to find that final pass to lead to a goal.

F Tasha Kai – 6

The industry continues to be outstanding from Kai. But it is her scoring that Philadelphia desperately needs right now and she needs to finish her chances.

F Lianne Sanderson – 5

Not a bad effort from Sanderson. But seemed to lack a lot of cohesion with Kai and more than a few times misfired on passes to her strike partner. Her PK was poor and she didn’t find herself in great shooting positions for much of the match. Would not be surprised to see her dropped into her more natural center midfield roll next week.


Veronica Boquette – 6

Shows flashes of real quality with some quick turns and good moves. It will be exciting to see her play when she gets her legs under her and begins to adapt the physicality of the league. Probably should have scored when in on goal all alone.

Dinesha Adams – 5

The speedy Adams was brought in with 25 minutes to play to challenge the Atlanta back line. Was involved in the best chance of the second half and did well to track the ball down, but should have scored into the empty net, even with the angle.

Laura Del Rio – n/a

Came on with about 10 minutes to play and never found a good opportunity to make her mark.

One Comment

  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    I feel like the Independence are well equipped to weather the absence of their national team players, they just need some time to gel. With that in mind, it’s unfortunate that WNY is their next opponent, but at least they’ll be without Marta, Seger and Sinclair. Between them they have 12 goals!

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