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WPS Super Semi Final Preview: Independence vs magicJack

Game Time: 4 pm, Saturday

TV: Sort of? Tape delay of the game will be shown on CSN at 11 pm but you can watch the webcast live on Fox Soccer.

Before we get too far into this, let me confirm. The Independence are in fact playing a team called magicJack for the right to play Western New York in the WPS Final. That’s magicJack, just magicJack. Like the stupid commercial on Fox Soccer.

And despite their stupid name, the team from Florida will actually show up to PPL Park on Saturday with a quality side that features seven USWNT players. Players like Abby Wambach, Christine Rampone, Shannon Box, Megan Rapinoe, and also Hope Solo, who will miss out through injury.

MagicJack qualified for the Super Semi Final by taking out the Boston Breakers Wednesday night in Florida by the score of 3-1. Wambach netted two (including a PK) and Rapinoe scored the other in a game that was probably not even as close as the score line indicates. Boston scored against the run of play and magicJack missed a number of chances.

The teams split the regular season series, 2-2, with each team winning both of their home games. Philadelphia throttled magicJack 6-0 and 3-1 in July, when both teams were without their World Cup players. But magicJack won both matches in Florida when each team had their full compliment of players, winning 2-1 way back in May and more recently last Saturday in the final match of the season, also by the score of 2-1.

The PPL Park Pitch

The Independence have enjoyed a week off since their match last Saturday against this very same magicJack team. They will hope the rest will not be rust and that the quick turnaround for magicJack will be too many games in too few days for a tired team.

The fact that the game is at PPL Park may factor into the fitness levels of both teams. The pitch there is bigger than the Independence’s usual home field at Quick Stadium of Widner University, which is a smaller turf field. MagicJack’s home field is the soccer specific Florida Internatinoal University Stadium, which is a larger grass field similar to the PPL pitch. But the Independence have the reputation of being the fittest team in WPS and a big field could play into their hands against a tired team that still has to fly to Philadelphia from Florida.

Talking Tactics

The Independence have adopted a 4-2-3-1 in the last few games of the regular season and I am expecting to see that line up on the field on Saturday. MagicJack play a more traditional 4-4-2, with Wambach and Rookie of the Year Christen Press leading the charge up top. They will look for service from Rapinoe and Sarah Huffman from the wings. It will be up to Philly’s holding midfielders Jen Buczkowski and Joanna Lohman to deny this service. Bruising center back Kia McNeill will probably be the one in charge of denying Wambach the ball, with fellow center back Nikki Krzysik helping the cause.

The Independence will be relying on Vera Boquete in the no. 10 role to dictate the Philly offense. The more you see of her on the ball for Philly, the better chances they have in winning the match. She’ll be looking to involve either Tasha Kai or Amy Rodriguez in the lone striker role (Riley has said he probably won’t play both) to start, as well as wingers Christina DiMartino and Danesha Adams (though Laura del Rio and Lianne Sanderson will probably make appearances as well). MagicJack’s holding midfielder Shannon Boxx will be forced to deal with Boquete, a match up that might favor the crafty Spaniard against an aging midfielder that has played in a lot of big games already this season. But the magicJack back line will be difficult to break down with Christine Rampone still playing at a very high level and Becky Saurbraunn also being a top notch defender.

Probable Starters:

Philadelphia: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Nicole Barnhart

Defenders: Leigh Ann Robinson, Kia McNeill, Nikki Krzysik, Estelle Johnson

D Midfield: Jen Buczkowski, Joanna Lohman

Midfield: Danesha Adams Vera Boquete, Christina DiMartino

Forward: Tasha Kai

MagicJack: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Jillian Loyden

Defenders: Marian Dalmy, Christie Rampone, Lydia Vandenbergh, Becky Sauerbrunn

Midfielders: Sarah Huffman, Shannon Boxx, Sophie Schmidt, Megan Rapinoe

Forwards: Christen Press, Abby Wambach

Prediction: 2-0 Independence

Two big reasons why the Independence should win this match. First is that magicJack have to be starting to tire. With players coming and going for national team camp early in the season and then the emotional rollercoaster that was the World Cup, I’m thinking the short turnaround after Wednesday night’s match will finally catch up with Wambach, Boxx and company. And secondly, Paul Riley is a better tactician than magicJack player coach Wambach. The WPS Coach of the Year should be able to outwit a coach that will be thinking more about Kia McNeill tossing her around than how to deal with the Independence attack.


  1. AND IT SHALL BE SO!!!!!!


  2. FYI – her name is spelled Christen Press.

  3. you don’t think that Amy Rodriguez is going to start?!?!?

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