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Philadelphia Independence: The Season So Far

Photo: Michael Long

Did you buy a ticket for the Independence match against Atlanta on Sunday after seeing some of the Women’s World Cup? Or are you just making it down to Widener University for the first time? Here’s what you’ve missed so far during Philadelphia’s 2011 campaign:

Early season unevenness…

Sunday, April 10 @ Sky Blue FC 2-2 TIE
Sunday, May 1 @ magicJack 1-2 LOSS
Sunday, May 8
Boston Breakers
2-0 WIN

Sunday, May 15 @ Atlanta Beat 2-1 WIN
Sunday, May 22 @ Boston Breakers 1-1 TIE
Sunday, May 29
Western NY Flash
1-2 LOSS

The opening third of the season had a little bit of everything for the Independence. An opening game draw against Sky Blue saw Philadelphia spot the New Jersey team two first half goals before coming back to grab a point on the road. Through a schedule quirk and after a game against magicJack was postponed due to lightning, the Independence then had three weeks off before traveling to Florida to take on the team with the most unfortunate name in sports. After an early goal from Christina DiMartino, magicJack fought back to win 2-1.

Almost a month after their first game of the season, the Independence finally had their first home match at Quick Stadium. Buoyed by their home fans, they ran out 2-0 winners behind goals from Tasha Kai and Lianne Sanderson against Boston.

Taking their show on the road again, Philly came from behind in Atlanta to beat the Beat 2-1, even after playing for almost 80 minutes with 10 players after a terrible early decision saw central defender Kia McNeill sent off. A week later, it was the Boston Breakers again, where the Independence were able to grab a point on the road.

On Memorial Day Weekend, league leaders Western New York Flash came to town with their line up of heavyweights including Marta and Christine Sinclair. An early Megan Rapinoe goal was cancelled out by goals from Becky Edwards and Marta (from the spot) and the Flash held on for a 2-1 win. The only home loss for Philadelphia thus far this season.

The national team players leave…and Philadelphia goes on a run.

Saturday, June 4
Atlanta Beat
0-0 TIE

Sunday, June 12 @ Western NY Flash 1-0 WIN
Saturday, June 18
6-0 WIN

Saturday, June 25
3-1 WIN
Wednesday, July 6
Sky Blue FC
4-3 WIN

Saturday, July 9
Western NY Flash
2-1 WIN

With the members of the USWNT leaving the league for full time training with the national team, the middle third of the season got off to a rocky start for Philly. In a game in which they dominated from start to finish, they could not find a goal against a very compact Atlanta team and the game finished 0-0.

Things looked to get even more difficult as they traveled to WNY the next week to face the Flash, who were still unbeaten at the time. After 90 minutes of battling in the midfield with few chances for either side, it was a cross from Sanderson that found Danesha Adams unmarked on the penalty spot and the striker coolly finished with a low header to give Philly the win.

The win against New York instilled some confidence in the Independence and that was on full display one week later when they returned home to take on magicJack. It’s not often you can say a 6-0 victory is flattering for the losers, but the Florida team should feel lucky that Philly didn’t score 10 as Philly dominated from whistle to whistle. A week later, Philly would take on magicJack again in the game postponed in May. Again it was a dominant performance, with Philly running out 3-1 winners in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

After a week off for the World Cup, Philly was again at home to take on Sky Blue. A crazy game saw five first half goals, including three for Sky Blue. But Philly showed their mettle in coming from behind to win 4-3, when Tasha Kai completed a hat trick early in the second half and super sub Laura del Rio scored with her first touch of the game. The win catapulted Philly into the top spot in the league for the first time this season and also the first time in their existence.

Vero Boquete. Photo by Michael Long.

The Independence completed their four game home stand with another battle with Western New York, this one a clash of league leaders. The game saw Tasha Kai and Sinead Farrelly (her first career goal) score first half goals and hold on for a 2-1 victory after a Christine Sinclair PK made things interesting in the second half.

The arrival of Veronica Boquete in early June can’t be overlooked. Slotting in nicely in the #10 role at the top of the Philadelphia midfield diamond, the creative Spaniard has been a driving force for the Independence offense. Not only with her wide passing range and crafty moves in the center of the park, but also with her goal scoring.

The national team players return for the final third…

Saturday, July 16 @ Atlanta Beat 1-0 WIN
Saturday, July 23 @ Sky Blue FC 0-2 LOSS
Wednesday, July 27 @ Boston Breakers 1-0 WIN
Sunday, July 31
Atlanta Beat
6:00 PM

Sunday, August 7
Sky Blue FC
6:00 PM

Sunday, August 14 @ magicJack 4:00 PM

After the USWNT heartbreaking loss in the World Cup Final, the national team players returned to the States, disappointed with the loss but buoyed by the country’s new found interest in women’s soccer. Amy Rodriguez, Lori Lindsey and Nicole Barnhart did not make the trip to Atlanta on July 16, but the Independence didn’t need them. Vero Boquete netted the game winner in the second half as Philadelphia continued their winning ways.

A week later, the six game winning streak would be snapped in New Jersey, as Philly played one of their worst games of the season against Sky Blue, losing 2-0. The national team players returned to the line up but A-Rod and Lindsey looked out of sync with the rest of the team. The loss gave WNY the chance to pull themselves even with Philly on the top of the table.

Just four days later, the Independence would travel to Boston to take on a Breakers team that hadn’t lost in four games. It was again Boquete to the rescue when she netted the winner late in the second half to send the Independence back into sole possession of first place.

Philadelphia currently has three games remaining and sit three points clear of WNY, who have five games to play. Home games against Atlanta and Sky Blue the next two weeks look to be must wins for Philadelphia as they try and secure first place and a trip to the WPS Championship Game.


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