What is it with Kansas City and soccer? I’ve pondered this question since my visit there last week, and have been fueled to answer it. My analysis to find the answer is worthy of a blog post. (see picture)

In the week span whether you are an avid fan, casual fan, or not a fan of soccer, you’ve seen or heard the buzz of soccer from Kansas City. The buzz has been in the news throughout the country check these out USA Today, Huffington Post, and WBUR (Boston NPR station). And this is just a short list. Why all the attention?

Are you able to answer a question with a question? (That philosophical question is for another time.) But asking a detailed question to retrieve or point you in the direction of the information to help solve the original question is required. So why all the attention? Let’s look at that.

  • Tonight Kansas City will be hosting the MLS All-Star game in Sporting Park a soccer only stadium. The stadium seats 19,000 and is home to Sporting Kansas City MLS club.
  • Sporting Kansas City is atop the eastern conference MLS standings and is only a point behind for the best record in the league.
  • Sporting Kansas City is in the midst of 27 game sellout streak.
  • FC Kansas City is atop the NWSL standings, has tallied the most goals for 30, and is tied for the lowest goals against 17.
  • FC Kansas City average attendance per game is 4,591 second best in the NWSL.
  • Kansas City Shock made the playoffs in their first season and placed third in the midwest conference in the WPSL
  • Kansas City is home to the premier coaching association NSCAA

Need there be anymore reasons? I’m satisfied. I’ve been to Kansas City twice in the past two years and each time I leave the itch to go back hits me even before I land back in Boston. Kansas City is a buzz with soccer, I love it, and want to be a part of it!

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91 minutes: That’s how long the Breakers fought the Spirit before scoring a sensational goal.

91 words: That’s how long I’ll take to give you the highlights.

The Breakers’ attack started slow and was repeatedly turned away by the Spirit’s defense and goalkeeping. In the 75th minute, Breakers’ head coach Lisa Cole substituted in Elizabeth Guess, which proved to be the juice the team needed. Guess served up the ball for Sydney Leroux who sped past the Spirit backline and beat the goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris far post.

Epic soccer in 91 words.

The road for women’s professional soccer in the United States has been– simply put– bumpy. There was the first rendition in WUSA, then the second go-around with WPS, and now the NWSL. The one team to have weathered every storm is the Boston Breakers. Boston has hosted a professional women’s soccer team in every league. During the year between the collapse of WPS and the start of the NWSL, the Breakers even kept it going by forming a team to play in the semi-pro WPSL Elite.

Even with all this change, one thing remains constant for the Breakers—every player is excited for another chance to showcase their talent and love of the sport in front of the best fans. Since the announcement of the new league in November, more exciting news has been announced. Just last week, all teams in the league announced their allocations of the National Team players from USA, Canada, and Mexico. Lisa Cole returns as head coach for the Breakers, and the organization started the Breakers Academy, a youth development program.

I was able to catch up with some of your favorite Breakers; Katie Schoepfer and Heather O’Reilly to get their thoughts on the recent and exciting news.

Katie Schoepfer:

On Lisa Cole continuing as Head Coach:

“I’m really looking forward to Lisa being the head coach again. I think she is a great coach. Last year she really believed in me, and brought our team along. […] She can break down video like crazy and she very good at those kinds of “x’s and o’s” things in the locker room which I think helps us out tremendously. […] I think overall she is very much a player’s coach. She looks for a lot of input from her leaders and her team, which gives us some ownership. We’re able keep open lines of communication with Lisa and she is very receptive to it which is great for our team.”

On the new Breakers Academy:

“I really hope that girls around Massachusetts take advantage of the fact that they will be able to play and be coached by professional players and professional coaches. […] It is an honor for us to wear the Breakers jersey, so it is pretty cool for a 10-year-old girl to be able to put on that jersey too.”

“I love coaching, and I love being able to work with different teams and different age groups. Besides playing, it is one of my passions. I hope to get involved with the Academy as much as possible.”

On Heather O’Reilly:

“My rookie season I played with her in New Jersey with Sky Blue. There is really nobody like her. No one can match her work ethic. She loves to play and she loves the game. That’s really contagious on a team. You can tell the difference when she is at practice, and when she is in games. For me personally, it just gives me so much more energy because I try to match everything that she is doing. I’m looking forward to playing with her again. ”

Heather O’Reilly:

On the growth of soccer in the U.S.:

“I think as a U.S. player and a fan of soccer in our country, it’s exciting to see soccer take hold in our country. It’s amazing to be a part of this growth and another step for U.S. Soccer to advance the game in our country. I think in the last two years, with the 2011 World cup and the (2012) Olympics, we are proud of the stronghold we’ve had in terms of the attention (soccer has received).”

On teammate Sydney Leroux:

“Syd, although coming off the bench (for the U.S.), she pumped in 12 goals. That was all off the bench! I’m really proud of Syd as a player. She’s handled herself very well on and off the field. And, she’s entertaining.”

On teammate Heather Mitts:

“Heather Mitts is somebody who is just the perfect teammate. She’s always going to be fit. She’s always going to be ready to go. She provides so much to the team environment.”

Her opinion on players for Mexico and Canada in the NWSL:

“It’s an interesting dynamic. I can’t even guess how many games I’ve played against (Rhian) Wilkinson (one of Boston’s players from Canada) on the National Team. I’m excited to have her on my side this time.”

If you weren’t able to participate in a recent #WoSoLive, you can view the transcripts to see what you missed. To participate in the live chat,  join the conversation on Wednesdays at 8:00 pm ET. Just log on to Twitter, follow @wmtammickiii and @christinet6d, and search for the #WoSoLive tag.

2012:

August 8th – 2012 London Olympics: Semi-finals and Gold Medal Game

 

This just could be one of the most highly anticipated tournaments for the U.S. Women’s National Team . I’d argue that it isn’t the talent of the teams in the Olympics, though the field is great. The 2012 Olympics bring out the best of each country, including teams that have beat the U.S. before.

What has the U.S. soccer supporters so tuned into this year’s competition? The character of the 2012 Women’s National Team. Like the famous ’99ers, this team has captured the hearts and the attention of the country. (In case you need an example of why this group is so beloved watch this video.)

The #wpschat will look at the team’s likability, compare it to the likes of the ’99ers, and what it means for the sport in the Olympics and at home.

Q1: The 2012 U.S. Women’s National Team

  • What put this team on the radar? Why?
  • How and when did the squad get into the hearts of the country at large? Why?
  • What was that defining moment for you? Why?

Q2: The ’99ers and 2012

  • How are the two squads similar?
  • How are the two squads different?
  • What do you think is/was the main driver of the two squads to win?
  • Are the pressures facing this squad the same or different from the ’99ers?

Q3: The Sport of Women’s Soccer

  • What impact could this team have on the sport at home and abroad?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

The Breakers season has been much like a promising boxers career; training hard to be in the best condition, receiving the spotlight as a top professional team, and delivering on those high expectations even through adversity.

In this important bout, the Breakers would deliver a PO (Pink Out) to their opponent the Philadelphia Fever.

The stage: Dilboy Stadium in Somerville set the stage for a fun and exciting game. The Breakers were wearing pink kits in support of Project Pink, a Puma charity campaign that raises awareness and funds to aid in the fight against breast cancer. The pink jerseys worn by the players were auctioned during the game and raised over $2,800 which will go to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The game marked their 2012 season home finale with yet another sold-out crowd in attendance to cheer them to victory.

The weigh-in: The Breakers were the overwhelming favorites to win the game. Coming into the match, the Breakers were tied for 1st in the league standings and the Fever were tied for last. But given their recent tough loss against the New England Mutiny, would they be able to bounce back?

The fight: Like any top fighter with a bad taste in their mouth from the last bout, the Breakers came out fast and furious. The Breakers midfielder Bianca D’Agostino opened-up the onslaught of offensive blows with a shot in the 4th minute that rattled the goal. From that point on, the Breakers were going for the PO on each and every shot. Fever goal keeper Michelle Dalton would fend off stellar shots from Cat Whitehill, Katie Schoepfer, Jessica Luscinski and Melissa Henderson before conceding to Schoepfer on a penalty kick in the 13th minute. D’Agostino, who turned in her best performance of the season, kept the pressure on Dalton with great shot selection, power, and accuracy. Dalton gave in once more to the offensive blitz when Courtney Jones netted her second goal of the season off a pass from Breakers captain Leslie Osborne.

As any top fighter will tell you, you need a great defense to go with your offense. The Breakers keeping and defense recorded their sixth shutout of the season. The Breakers back line of Whitehill, Taryn Hemmings, Elli Reed, and Julie King held their ground, limiting the work for goal keeper Alejandra Velasco.  Velasco only had to save one shot to get her first shutout of the season.  The Breakers out shot the Fever 23 – 1 on the game and put almost half of those on goal.

The Fever’s strategy was to pack-in the defense and limit the damage of the Breakers blows. They were successful in holding the Breakers high-octane offense to 2 goals and goal to shot percentage of just under 10% at 9%. The strategy, while effective on the defensive end, saw the offense struggle. They only tested the Breakers once which Velasco saved.

The Breakers play their final game of the 2012 campaign away vs. the Western New York Flash on Sunday, July 22nd at 4pm ET at Sahlen Stadium. The game will determine playoff seeding as the Breakers and Flash are tied for 1st with 30 points and the Chicago Red Stars are in 2nd with 27 points and two games to play.

In less than one month, the US Women’s National Team will represent its country during the 2012 Olympics in London. This is of no surprise to most. The US women’s national team is traditionally one of the best teams to compete in global contests. With that success comes the constant pressure to be the best. Yet success is defined in many ways; on and off the field. This summer the team will be playing for more than gold on a global scale; they’ll also attempt to capture the attention of the nation.

This week’s chat will explore the pressures and expectations facing the team on and off the field.

Q1: Going for Gold or Broke

  • If winning gold is the ultimate goal, will getting anything less be a success? Why or why not?
  • What are the on-field pressures or expectations being put on the team?
  • Are those expectations valid? Why or why not?

Q2: America’s Team

  • Will this team capture the nation’s attention as they did in the 2011 WWC? Why or why not?
  • What are the off-field pressures or expectations being put on the team?
  • Are those expectations valid? Why or Why not?

Q3: Women’s Professional Soccer

  • What impact will the success of the team have on the women’s game?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

The Boston Breakers went into their match versus in-state rival the New England Mutiny on a five game winning streak. With their win over the ASA Chesapeake from the previous night fresh in mind, the Breakers had momentum, aptitude, and durability going for them.

Momentum: Looking at the record, the Breakers were going into last night’s match on a roll. The Breakers were winners of five straight, and won the previous match-up between the two teams. Since their loss to now top-seeded Chicago Red Stars, the Breakers have beat up the competition. In those five wins they recorded 3 shutouts and  outscored their opponents 11 – 4. In the previous match the Breakers outlasted the Mutiny winning by a score of 4 – 2.

Aptitude: The Breakers have multiple players in the top of the league leaders for points, goals, and assists. The team’s roster includes Kyah Simon, Katie Schoepfer, and Courtney Jones. Simon is the league best in scoring and points; Schoepfer ranks in the top 3 league-wide in scores, assists, and points; Jones leads the league in assists. With skill like this on the team, it’s easy to see how the Breakers were top of the league going into last night’s game.

Durability: The Breakers are known throughout the league for being an incredibly fit team, for keeping the pressure on all game, and for scoring  late in the second half of games. If any WPSL Elite team could accomplish the physically taxing task of winning games on back to back nights, it would be the Breakers. Right?

For 90 plus minutes in last night’s game against the Mutiny, the Breakers looked as though they would pull it off.  Simon scored in the 47th minute, and the team had plenty of opportunities to net another if it wasn’t for the stellar play of Mutiny GK Vicki Alonzo. What the Breakers didn’t plan for was the ace up the Mutiny’s sleeve: Resilience.

Resilience: The Mutiny proved that staying in the game and bouncing back are the key to winning against this formidable team. This would ultimately be the story of the night.

The Mutiny would prove their resiliency by scoring two goals in stoppage time to get the all-important win, thereby keeping their playoff dreams alive. The equalizer came off the foot of the team’s recent signing and former Breaker Tiffany Weimer. Minutes later the game-winner sailed past the outstretched hands of Breakers GK Alice Binns by Mutiny substitute Taleen Dimirdjian. Another Mutiny substitute for the game Rebecca Mays would set-up Dimirdjian for the goal.

The Mutiny celebrated their victory with the 1,031 fans in attendance, while the Breakers felt as though they let three points get away.

New England Mutiny – Box score/recap

Boston Breakers – Box score/recap

The Breakers will look to show their resiliency when they return to action in their next match on July 14th against the Philadelphia Fever at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, MA. It will be Puma “Project Pink” night at Dilboy. The players will be wearing pink jerseys to raise awareness for breast cancer. The jerseys will be auctioned off at the end of the game to raise funds for a cancer charity to help find a cure.

In the rematch of the regular season, the New England Mutiny defended their home field and beat the Philadelphia Fever 2 – 1. With the win, the Mutiny into third place in the WPSL Elite league standings. The Fever’s struggle to find a way to win continue as they lose another close one.

The Fever would strike first in the 11th minute as Myriam Bouchard took advantage of a Mutiny turnover and rocketed a shot past the hands of Mutiny goal keeper Vikki Alonzo. The Mutiny fought back and equalized in the 22nd minute when Kate Howarth netted a ball from Vicki DiMartino. The half would end with the score knotted at 1 -1.

In the previous match, the teams played to a draw. At the half with the score even at 1 – 1, this game was heading in the same direction. The difference maker was Morgan Andrews who did not play in the first game but controlled this game in the midfield for the Mutiny. Andrews placed a perfect ball over the defense to Kate Howarth on the wing who crossed it to Becca Mays for the game winner in the 82nd minute.

Post-Match Interview: Mutiny Midfielder Morgan Andrews –

Post-Match Interview: Mutiny Interim Head Coach Chris Legates – 

Has it been two months already?! It has, and the June 2012 issue of Our Game Magazine is out. This could only mean one thing: another special edition #WPSchat featuring Our Game Magazine. The issue is full of great articles– some of my favorites are ‘Adversity Abroad’, ‘Performance’, ‘Veronica Boquete’ and ‘Women’s Soccer Journalists’.

Ever wonder what types of struggles American footballers playing in foreign leagues face or what it takes to become a top player at the highest level? ‘Adversity Abroad’ and ‘Performance’ gives us insight into those questions and will be the featured articles of the chat.

Q1: Adversity Abroad (page 19 – 23)

  • What are some of the largest off-field struggles for American players abroad?
  • What are some of the largest on-field challenges face by American players abroad?
  • What might the clubs, agents, or city officials of the players do help?

Q2: Performance (page 10 – 11)

  • What does it take to become a top player at the highest level of football?
  • What impact does working on your individual game away from the team have? Is this good or bad? Why?
  • What are the obstacles young athletes face that prevent them from reaching their goals?
  • What does a young athlete need to do in order to reach their goals? Is there a formula for success? What is that formula?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

Our Game Magazine June 2012 Issue – Our Game Magazine June 2012

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