Freedom 2 Courage 1

Ahhhh - what a wonderful way to start the season. And I donít just mean the Freedom win - which of course pleases me greatly. I am referring to the fact that a fairly well played and interesting game where the stars played like stars was featured on ESPN2. This was the exposure game and both teams came ready to compete. Some tired Courage legs at the end, but ya know - first game of the season, kinda their one chance to try to get some converts who will go search for the games on PAX and I thought both teams delivered. The biggest problem the Courage had in this one was Luckinbillís thumb and it looks like theyíre just gonna have that problem until sheís back . . . and for those of you who arenít real fond of the Freedom, I have a bad bad feeling us Freedom fans are gonna know just how that feels when Siriís away with the Nats . . . but thatís a discussion for another day. Today was all about a fun fast paced game and a great start to the year. Kudos to both teams - and I am finally quite excited about the new season.

Formation

Freedom (4-2-2-2) - back-front, right-left: GK - Mullinix; Def - S. Little, Moore, Grubb, Barr; DMid - Stoecker, Jones; AMid - Lindsey, Hamm; Fwd - J. Little, Wambach. Gerardo in for J. Little, Zimny in for Lindsey who I hope just turned an ankle or some other such innocuous minor little injury. Hard challenge, ankle got thumped, hopefully thatís all it was.

Courage (4-4-2 with a withdrawn DMid - and I will screw up some of the right and left here - I can only figure so much out watching on TV): GK - Burke; Def - Burt, Fettig, Boyd, Slaton; DMid - Roberts; Mid - Lenn, Riise, Carlson; Fwd - Prinz, Fotopolous. OíHanley in for Carlson, James in for Lenn.

Freedom Players

Mullinix - That we went the entire game and we never saw her hands around Carrie Mooreís neck truly shows what incredible restraint she has. Man, that was a gaping maw of a hole in the central D at times, wasnít it? Thought Mullinix handled it very well. Freedom got lucky a couple of times (Prinz putting the ball over the goal, Prinz smacking it wide right and Hege completely blanking out on that PK) but Siri handled herself well in some of the defensive breakdowns and on set pieces. I did notice several miscommunications and that is definitely something they need to work out sooner rather than later. Far too many instances of defenders snatching the ball out of her clutches and letting balls go that she was nowhere near and obviously wasnít expecting them to let through - someone needs to get mean, get loud and take charge or the Freedom is going to start to get nailed on some of those. I vote for Siri . . . and if they donít back off when she calls them off then she needs to run right over them a time or two - then theyíll start listening to her. This is one area I think Bri Scurry is much better than Siri - maybe it would have happened once with Bri, but the second time Moore didnít seem to recognize the GK was ready to smother the ball, Bri would have just taken her out (Iíve seen her upend Beat defenders many a time), gotten the ball and that would have let her know, when the keeper calls you off, try to box out the attacker, but stay off. Needs to take a bit more control of that box. But, itís the first game of the season - these things will get worked out. And I must point out the kicking game - I love watching the Freedom keeper kicking game and what wonderful use the field players make of it . . . Steffi, Abby, Stoeck, and even some of the smaller players are fantastic at winning those balls in the midfield and getting the Freedom off to quick and dangerous counter attacks. Nice powerful flat ball with distance off Siriís foot - ball gets up field very fast (as opposed to high floating punts where defenses have plenty of time to set up). Itís so easy to get behind the defense on those plays. The Nats should take notes on that count - it is such a weapon - we will see the Freedom win games off of those plays this season - watch.

Skylar Little - Pretty quiet yet fairly solid outing. Fotop really wasnít making much noise out there, and Prinz was attacking to the Freedom left and up the middle. Didnít notice that Little had just a ton to do defensively throughout most of this one. She was getting forward very nicely offensively. With two Littles and a Lindsey out there it was a bit tough figuring out who was who at times, but all three of the little blonde girls seemed to have some chemistry offensively. I still think Skylar needs to work on that last pass a bit though - lots of passing to phantoms in this one. On the other hand, at times she was passing into wide open spaces into which someone really should have been running, so this might be another communication issue rather than a Skylar one. Not much to say here - sheís come a long way from the first season though - sheís become a pretty solid player out there. Nice game.

Moore - well - she does one thing very very well - she is a tenacious man marker. However, coaches, being not quite as stupid as I like to think at times, realize that you canít use that man marking defense against a team with more than a singular goal scorer - basically leaves you with a three back and you will get nailed. So Moore was left just having to play as a central defender, read the game, use her speed to get back, use her strength to hold off attackers and basically be the last line of defense in front of the keeper - I think we saw her limitations on all of those counts in this one. I donít want to be overly harsh, and Iím basing this on what I saw last year as well as this game, but if sheís not man marking, she needs to be on the bench. Prinz ate her alive, and she doesnít read the game well enough or know the angles to run well enough to make up for her lack of speed. And if I am way off base and she was man marking in this one, then the whole strategy needs to be trashed because sheís not so good at it anymore - she was stopping/hanging with no one and the central defense was way too vulnerable. I look forward to Minnertís arrival and donít think itís going to be much of an issue as to who goes to the bench when she gets here. And yes, I realize Prinz got by everyone on her goal before it came down to Moore . . . but ya know, Prinz got by everyone and was right alongside Grubb at one point too - exact same situation - Grubb stayed with her and Prinz couldnít muscle her off the ball like she did Moore and Grubb basically escorted her right over the endline for a goal kick. Thatís the difference, Moore simply canít do that, sheís not strong enough, sheís not fast enough, she doesnít see it coming far ahead enough. Not a great outing - maybe it was just this game (on top of every time the Freedom played Boston and Carolina last year) and sheíll be strong next week, but Iíll be happy to see our new German. Freedom got lucky (and Siri came up big) more than a couple of times.

Grubb - I thought she was solid as could be. Prinz is a superior player, even had Steffi twisted up at times, but Grubb handled it as well as anyone could expect. As I mentioned above, there were some instances where it was Prinz v. Grubb and Grubb would not be pushed off the ball. Left Prinz screaming at the ref for a call more than a couple of times and that means her defense was good. She was covering a lot of ground in the central D - she was covering a lot of Mooreís ground in the central D and was covering for Emmy quite a bit as well. Got forward very nicely on offense - I thought the whole team very aggressively pushed forward - and provided great service out of the back. No oneís going to stop Prinz entirely, but I thought she played her tough and contained her as well as she could. Handled her better than anyone else on the Freedom roster. Just a nice nice outing all the way around.

Barr - I donít have much - she just kinda looked a little lethargic at times - got outrun a time or two which is the one thing that really doesnít happen often - sheíll do stupid things . . . sheíll do stupid things regularly . . . but she really only very rarely gets outrun. Almost looked a little intimidated by Prinz at times and content to let Grubb and Jones deal with it. Made some great runs forward though and made them often so maybe she was just getting lost in the attack and unable to get back on D. I did notice her trying to combine with Mia quite a bit - just missing that last pass at times - probably the same first game communication issues everyone seemed to be having. I donít know - canít put my finger on it, but she just didnít look right to me. Maybe itís just one of those "first game of the season" things and sheíll be zipping all over the field running down folks from behind again next week . . . I donít know - maybe I lost her - I basically have nothing here and maybe thatís whatís bothering me.  Sheís usually showy enough such that I never lose her. Always one of the fastest players on the pitch and in the thick of things. Ya know - it never bothers me watching the Nats on TV . . . or even other WUSA teams (I could give you an earful on Atlanta-NY - what a train wreck - maybe another day), but I always feel so hamstrung when Iím doing a Freedom report of a televised game. Hmm - Iíll check out all these defenders again next week.

Stoecker - Very nice to see her back . . . and very nice to see not even the slightest little vestige of her ACL injury. Maybe itís because sheís not a player who relies on speed or quick cuts a lot, but youíd never know she was just coming off a serious injury to look at her in this one. Itís nice seeing her out there with Jones.  Having two big defensive middies gives them both the freedom to get forward at times and linger in the box on set pieces. There was one set piece in particular where she almost booted one in.  Stayed with it while sitting on the ground and tried to put one past the rookie. Defensively, well, I thought communication back there wasnít just fantastic as a whole, but I have a feeling Prinz is going to do that to a lot of teams this year. She was solid though and I definitely like to have height at the defensive midfield position. Won her share of 50-50 balls, deceptive strength and still has that fearlessness that she had before - after a serious knee injury, I think seeing that fearlessness made me as happy as anything I saw out there today. Solid outing.

Jones - Absolutely dominant in the ball winning category, be it in the air or stripping people and powering them off the ball on the ground. She just has such a great presence on the field - even when sheís doing nothing, sheís just a big, imposing and confident force out there. No hesitation in anything she does. Played strong defense - Prinz got the best of her a couple of times, including on the goal, but overall it was a solid effort. She wasnít getting involved in the attack as much as I would have liked. At times both she and Stoeck were playing very high in the midfield and very aggressively, but it actually seemed to me Stoeck was taking a slightly more offensive role in this one. Jones seemed to take a lot of responsibility for trying to contain Prinz though, so that probably had her on her heels more than she will be against other teams. She does continue to provide a nice link between the offense and the defense. She knows how to get the ball forward. At the start of last season and in season one that was a huge issue for Washington. Freedom really arenít a possession oriented team, theyíre very direct and the midfield gets bypassed quite a bit, so Jones, along with Grubb, is key to providing the link between the defensive third and the offense. Strong game - I look forward to seeing more from her offensively in the very near future.

Lindsey - Sheís a tenacious little player, thatís for sure. I liked the nice hard challenges she was making - just runs right up there, puts a foot on the ball and as often as not gains possession. I imagine the workrate defensively already has her in Gabarraís good graces - itís the failure to play aggressively and do those little things that seemed to put Anne Mak in his doghouse. Seems to see the field pretty well but I think itís going to take a few games for her to connect with Mia and Abby. Just seemed to be a little disconnect on that final pass up top all game long and she was not immune. Iím sure that will work itself out within the next 2 or 3 games.  I liked the thought of a lot of what she was doing though - putting the ball through quite a bit.  In the first half I felt the problem was as much (if not more) Abby just not getting on the end of some passes as it was the passes not getting to where they needed to be. It will add a great dimension to the Freedom offense if . . . well . . . theyíre able to run one - seeing Lori play in this one, I think maybe theyíll be able to run some of that offense through the midfield. While the power of the Freedom personality players got it done today (and all of last season), there are going to be games where theyíre actually going to need to build an attack and I think Lindsey will be instrumental in that and from what I saw today, once they get the communication down and she learns her front runners and her attacking midfield compatriots a bit, I think sheíll be able to get it done. So far Iím pleased with the Lori Lindsey addition - one of the more interesting storylines to watch in Freedomland.

Hamm - what is there to say - the woman is outstanding. 90 minutes outstanding, workrate outstanding, taking advantage of the young keeper outstanding, defensively outstanding, pressuring the ball outstanding, everything outstanding. Great performance - I still think sheís wasted in the midfield though. With a lack of offensive spark on the bench with J. Little starting, Iím hoping the absent Aussie is of starting caliber so she can come in at the attacking midfield, and Mia can move up top where she can do the most damage. While itís fun watching Mia play defense, somehow watching her take the ball from an attacker off the endline on the Freedomís end just seems a little wasteful to me - unless itís a set piece (it wasnít), thatís just too deep for Mia to be playing. Great game though - Iím looking for it to get even better once the combination play gets up to snuff.

J. Little - Ya know - I like her so much as a second half spark. She always comes in with a lot of energy and a frenetic pace to everything that she does. However, as a starter she rarely makes an impact. This game was no different. She wasnít combining well with Abby or Mia - she, Skylar and Lori Lindsey were working well together, but it was just kind of them passing amongst each other in the middle third and then one of them missing the last pass up top. Not a lot that was dangerous was created. And more importantly, with her starting, thereís no spark off the bench. Gerardo came in today and seemed flatter than the folks who were in from the start - itís just not her game to come in and bring a lot of energy. Little, however, is great at that and as the season wears on, it will be a great weapon to have late in games when defenders are working on tired legs. As for this one, she made almost no impact at all . . . itís easy to just rely on Abby and Mia to score all the goals, but as the season wears on, they need a third starter to be a viable option and I just donít think thatís going to be Jaqui.

Wambach - A tale of two halves thatís for sure. I watched the first 40 minutes of this game wondering "whatís wrong with Abby?" She was invisible, immobile, late on her runs, staying down and grousing about calls and her workrate was lacking. Then she lays her body out in front of an oncoming keeper, scores a goal (or at least causes a goal to be scored - Iím still skeptical as to whether she got a head on it), and boom, itís like a switch flipped and she was a monster. She finished the half well, and then in the second half she was just wonderful - high workrate, pressuring the ball up top, tracking back on D, making significant defensive plays in the waning minutes, getting chances for herself and teammates and the very picture of perpetual motion. This is why it frustrates me so much when folks like Rob Stone, who obviously donít watch her play very often, make comments about her fitness - the longer she was out there, the better she looked. Yeah, she turns a little red, her hair is a mess and stuck to her head in new and interesting ways and she looks like sheís about to pass out, but after watching almost every game sheís played over the last year, and watching her play a full 90 for the Freedom every time out, I feel pretty confident saying that thatís just how Abby looks - she hasnít passed out . . . not even once. Her workrate remained high - well, it improved, actually - and everything about her game got a little sharper as time wore on - thatís not fatigue, thatís a player finding her flow. She was running harder than anyone not named Mia in the waning minutes of this one. What was going on in the first 40? I have no idea, maybe the lack of dirt on her jersey at the start was freakiní her out. But I tell ya - she was so good in the later going, that you almost forget how quiet she was at the start. Overall, I have to give her a great game - slow start, but once she got started, she was quite impressive. Great in the box, and great away from goal - there was one run wide left where she did a wonderful bit of playmaking, taking the ball up the left side, getting slightly behind the D and then putting the ball right to Gerardo in the box - it is a shame Gerardo didnít get a full foot on it - if sheíd managed to get a solid foot behind it, it would have been in the back of the net. Good stuff - itís gonna be a good year for Abby, I can feel it.

Gerardo - Iíve kinda touched on it, but late game spark, she ainít. Sheís got the fresh legs, sheís got to provide some energy when she gets in there if this is going to be her role . . . kinda like Venus James did for the Courage - Venus got in there and immediately made an impact. Gerardo got in there and dissolved in a sea of white - if she hadnít flubbed the opportunity from Abby, I wouldnít have noticed a thing she did. Iíve never been a huge fan, but Iím really not a fan of her in the spark off the bench role - it just doesnít suit her style of play at all. Sheís not a high energy player. J. Little definitely needs to get back in that role - I think weíll see good things from her once sheís back there. Nothing else on Gerardo - didnít provide what I thought she needed to, but didnít really do anything wrong either. Freedom were sitting on a lead at that point and she helped them sit. So, not a bad outing per se, but a quiet one.

Zimny - she came in very late in the game and she didnít give up a goal - WOOHOO!!!!!! Now thatís an improvement . . .

Overall, nice game for the Freedom - shows a lot of promise for the season. Considering this was the first game of the year, it was actually better than a "nice" performance - it was a strong one. Mia looks fantastic, Abby looks strong, Lori Lindsey shows some nice promise, Stoeck and Steffi make a fearsome duo, defense looked a little shaky at times, but ultimately little harm done and they really didnít look a whole lot shakier than one would expect at the start of the season (or than they looked all of last year) . . . good stuff - a most enjoyable outing.

As for the Courage - well - Iíll put some quick notes re their players, but as usual, wonít be the same detail as with the Freedom - itís just too hard to follow 22 players - especially when Iím watching from home - and frankly, I donít want to spend my entire weekend writing this thing and I have to draw a line somewhere.

Courage Players

Burke - Uhhhhh - get well soon Lucks, get well soon. Theyíre very fortunate it was only 2-1. Those defenders had Burkeís back on a couple of set pieces - that one set piece very early in the game, ball was behind the keeper, one of those defenders booted it off the line. Sheís a rookie, sheís obviously in over her head, folks are going to pick on her. Itís just that simple. As for Anson joking about discretion being the better part of valor on Abbyís goal . . . Uhhh, well, no - itís not. Abby was the one airborne and putting herself at risk, not Burke - do you think Bri would have backed off? Siri? Beene? Anyone? Even a kid like Jenni Branam? No - it wasnít about discretion - it was about being intimidated and being scared. Every team has a crazy player whoís going to go at keepers like that - true, most teamsí crazy player isnít quite as big as Abby, but donít ya think Charmaine Hooper is going to come barreling toward this kid just like Abby did at some point? Is she going to back off every time? Lotta goals are gonna get scored if she does - players will run right at her, no question. Well, that said - it was her first game, and I tell ya, after watching the Power-Beat game earlier this evening, her performance now seems a bit stronger than it seemed as I was watching it, but I think key for this kid is simply going to be taking control of her box. And I donít mean taking control from her defenders who are without a doubt running the show and probably should be, Iím talking about simply not backing off from oncoming attackers - letting the other guys know they canít come in and run roughshod over her. She looked scared - getting that Bambi in the headlights look out of her eyes will probably be half the battle over there. And like I said, the Power train wreck really put her performance in perspective for me, so Iíll give her "a nice first effort, but she needs to get some confidence real fast," and leave it at that.

Burt - got forward nicely and played some solid defense. Got picked on by Mia a bit though, and Abby late in the game as well. With the Boyd/Slaton juggernaut on the left side, it seemed that a lot of the action was coming up the Courage right, right-central. Honestly though, I thought all 4 Courage defenders had solid games, the defensive effort in the midfield didnít just thrill me though. Freedom did most of their damage on set pieces earned in the midfield, corners and counter attacks (usually resulting from a 50-50 ball from Siriís or Grubbís foot won in the midfield) so I donít think thereís much to pick at with the D. Maybe she should have come out and gotten Mia early on Miaís goal, but dang, who knew she was going to shoot that early . . . Wasnít getting up into the attack as much as Iím accustomed to seeing - Courage attack really didnít look as organized as it looked last year - considering they really do have a lot of the same players on the field, Iím not quite sure why their attack had so little flow - unless Entlich was trying to make a point by changing things that didnít really need changing. Hmmm - interesting - I donít know if Iíll see enough Courage games this season to figure that one out, but weíll see - they were the champions, theyíve got all the key personnel returning, he really didnít need to change much. It will be interesting to see if he changed just to change or if it was just a "first game of the season, Birgit just got into town" kind of thing.

Fettig - I realize itís been well over a year and I should be getting over this by now, but Iím still wondering exactly what Pat Farmer was thinking when he cut her. Solid performance. The defense was doing a solid job, especially considering that they were sitting on and babysitting their own keeper.

Boyd - I thought she looked great. I do agree with Anson on this point, didnít look like a rookie at all. Teams arenít going to get a lot done attacking toward the Courage left thatís for sure. She has good speed, good height, uses her head well defensively and on set pieces - just impressive the entire game. Like I said, there was nothing wrong with the Courage defenders in this one. I like this unit a lot and sheís a great addition to it.

Slaton - broken record time - she looked good - she and Boyd shored up the left side for the Courage. Great speed - nice to see her knee injury didnít slow her down any - reads the game so well and makes those reads so early sheís always there to help her teammates. Problem with the Courage defense was the defense, or lack thereof, being played by the midfield. Nice game - the whole unit is going to have to continue to have nice games and theyíre going to have to continue to take care of that young keeper as best as they can until Luckinbill is back. Freedom didnít beat the Courage defense, Freedom beat the Courage keeper.

Roberts - Ya know - for about 20-25 minutes she was having a nice game - very disruptive to the Freedom passing, sticking with Mia a bit (leading to the Hamm-Roberts Smackdown - yes, very cute), but about midway through the first half she just kind of fell off the page a bit. Lindsey and the Littles were maintaining possession very well, Mia was running rampant, Abby was being just as big and intimidating as she wanted to be and was able to be that way in defendersí faces without interference - I guess I was wondering "whereís Tiff?" during all this. Especially since Carolina really wasnít winning a lot of balls in the midfield after the 30-35th minute - almost nothing in the air and besides dispossessing Steffi a couple of times, the Freedom were winning the ground battles as well.  I guess maybe more than wondering "whereís Tiff" I was actually wondering "whereís Erin Baxter?" As big as the Freedom are and as direct as they play, I really am surprised they didnít want her size and her physicality in there to win 50-50 balls and try to clog things up a bit (and to knock Abby on her fanny a couple of times). OíHanley coming in late in the first half was a nice idea, but Baxter tends to play the Freedom tough and the Freedomís size generally tends to neutralize TRís effectiveness a bit (if sheís not stopping Mia, which she has been able to do in stretches at times, sheís generally not real effective against Washington). So - overall, quiet game, and she just canít compete ball winning-wise with a team the size of Washington - and since sheís the defensive midfielder, thatís kind of a problem. Fortunately for her and the Courage, though, most teams arenít as big as the Freedom and there are few opponents where this is going to matter a whole lot.

Carlson - I got nothiní. Wasnít terribly impressed though. The contrast between what she provided and what Lenn provided was pretty stark and exposed her as a weak link on the field. Rookie though, sheíll get better. Seeing the wonderful offensive spark and skill Venus James provided (loved the little spin move and pass to Birgit) when she entered the game, though, Iím wondering a little why this rookie was in the game at the start.

Riise - Not a typical Hege Riise performance. I have to wonder if Prinzís late arrival was a major reason why the Courage offense looked so out of sync. On the other hand, this is Hege Riise - that it was the player who just arrived who took charge and not the player who could actually make sure everyone else was involved was a little curious to me. When Hegeís not getting Fotop involved, Topís just not involved at all. So - not a bad performance but, an atypical one that I donít expect to be repeated and therefore bears no further discussion.

Lenn - only Courage offensive player other than Prinz and the late game spark of Venus James to make an impact on this game of any kind. She was getting forward nicely, getting the ball to Prinz nicely, peppering in some nice shots, eluding defenders, and just making a pest of herself. Looks like sheís ready to be a nice third option for the Courage once the team finds its rhythm. The off week is timed quite well for them - I imagine next time out after the whole offense has some practice time together it will all flow like it did last year. Honestly, itís the same players, they were champions last season, thereís no reason why it shouldnít.

OíHanley - didnít provide a whole lot offensively and I really didnít notice that the Courage were ball winning any better once she got in there. Again, Iím left wondering why, considering the opponent and if you wanted to go defensive, Baxter didnít get the call . . . and if you wanted to go offensive, why James didnít get the call. First game though and the first time Entlich has seen the Freedom - I imagine itís going to take a trip around the league for him to figure out what substitution patterns work best against who.

Fotopolous - Was she out there? I donít recall seeing her do a thing - not even on set pieces . . . not even defensively on set pieces. Theyíre definitely going to need to get her involved if theyíre going to repeat the success of last season - and Iím sure they intend to. The Birgit Prinz show is all well and good, but it will only get better and it will only yield positive results if Riise and Fotop take co-starring roles. I really have nothing else - just a very uncharacteristically quiet performance from her.

Prinz - well, she was the offensive superstar for them this game, no question. She was on the ball on almost all offensive possessions, pressuring the Freedom defenders trying to get turnovers and mowing over anyone and everyone in her path - including the generally unmowable Steffi Jones. Like with Mia, thereís really not a lot to say - she was just dominant. Great size and uses that size well, fantastic speed, great skill on the ball . . . Just a wonderful performance and Iím glad she got a chance to be showcased on ESPN2. And I do believe that Shannon Mac might have a challenger for this yearís League Whiner Award - can anyone get within 5 yards of her without her looking at the ref in incredulous disbelief that a foul wasnít called . . . a little bit of that goes a long way with me. That aside though, a great performance that will only improve once she is incorporated into the offense and is actually working and combining with her teammates.

James - well, Iíve already mentioned her a bit. Would have liked to see much more of her to tell the truth. Unless either she or Lenn are such right sided players that they canít play on the left, then Iíd love to see them out there at the same time - it would give the attack a bit more balance and maybe having strong middies on both sides would even out the forward activity a bit. Then again, they very well might both be right sided players, I simply donít know - and if they are, then that explains that and it is a shame because to me, theyíd be great on the field together at the outside midfield spots. As for late game sparks - she provided a fantastic one. Came in and brought a ton of energy and it was obvious she was watching closely from the bench because her brief appearance in this one provided some of the best Courage combination play of the match. I look forward to seeing what role she settles into over there. Iíve always liked her game, going back to college, and this brief appearance only made me like her more.

Well - went on about the Courage more than I intended - my procrastination regarding doing my taxes knows no limits. I thought this game was a great start to the season for both teams. Both show a lot of promise and I think have very narrow and identifiable areas on which they need to work. Courage defense was great players 1-4, and they stayed in the game and managed to mount a fairly dangerous attack even though they really werenít clicking like we know theyíre going to in the not too distant future. As for the Freedom - they just got themselves a win - much like they just got themselves a whole bunch of wins last year. Theyíre never going to play the most attractive soccer in the league. But ya know, they play winning soccer, their personality players rarely let them down, the defense more often than not is just good enough to get them through and theyíve got a keeper who seems to shine the brightest when the defense is at its shakiest, and I expect that all of this will continue and theyíll keep on gutting out wins in whatever way it takes.

Beulah

PS - when all those mock drafts by the "experts" were being posted at the various official soccer sites was anyone else wondering why no one had NY drafting a keeper . . . Ďcause ya know, I really think they need a keeper . . . really . . . they do . . . . For those of you Power fans who didnít see the Beat-Power game last night, it wasnít pretty . . . really . . . it wasnít . . . For those of you Beat fans out there - dang . . . they looked pretty good - Bri finally actually looked as good as everyone has been saying sheís looked for the last two years. She had a fantastic outing. And Maribel is going to be a wonderful addition over there. She had a great game as well. Whole team was solid, actually.

And keepers, did I mention NY needs one?