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This is the second installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. As I mentioned in my last post, I will be taking an in-depth look at all the WPS teams in a lead up to the start of the season. The Boston Breakers are this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: This group had its ups and downs last season for the Breakers. A terrific first half of the season and a bumpy second half. The Breakers looked to improve the frontline in the offseason and have done just that. The other team’s defense will no longer have the luxury of a single focused strategy on stopping Kelly Smith without being hurt by the Breakers other offensive threats. The fresh faces of this group Lauren Cheney (USWNT goal leader so far in 2010), Laura del Rio, Tiffany Weimer, and Sarah Walsh will be welcomed by Kelly Smith and will finish plays. A not so fresh face to the team but a fully recovered Fabiana will bolster this group as well.

The Midfield: Best performing group through out the whole season last year for the Breakers was the midfield led by team captain Kristine Lilly. This group really did it all last season from setting the frontline up to getting back and defending. They were tenacious and looked to be weakened by the retirement of Angela Hucles. The Breakers did an outstanding job in free agency to fill the hole left and make it better than last season. The acquisitions of Leslie Osborne and Chioma Igwe will bring this group to that next level.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending for the Breakers was solid for most of the last season. There were only a couple of notable let downs last season against Sky Blue FC and the season finale against the Sol. The Breakers retained Allison Lipsher who did wonderful in net replacing Kristin Luckenbill midway through the 2009 season. In the games she started only Karina LeBlanc had a better GAA and percentage of shutouts vs total games. In the draft the Breakers selected net minder Alyssa Naeher to spell Lipsher. Opponents had extreme difficulty breaking the defensive wall of the Breakers last season that consisted of Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Alex Scott, and Candace Chapman. At the beginning of the offseason that wall looked to be falling apart with the loss of Heather Mitts and Candace Chapman in free agency. The breakers made their biggest fix for the defense in the dispersal draft with the selection of Stephanie Cox. Stephanie will fill the spot left vacated by Heather Mitts and Breakers will use Kasey Moore and Jordan Angeli to fill the center defense.

The Breakers will be a team to watch in the 2010 WPS season and look to be a good challenger to Sky Blue FC’s championship defense.

The next team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Chicago Red Stars, so stay tuned.

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The WPS preseason has begun and, as I await the beginning of the regular season, post ideas have been absent. This isn’t to say there hasn’t been news worthy or post worthy topics such as Citi becoming a founding partner or teams slimming their rosters. Nothing that I thought of or put on paper seemed to stick. Then teams started playing exhibitions and scrimmages, the players posted blogs and tweeted of their excitement about getting back on the pitch. This is when an idea came to me for not just one post but a series of posts and the ‘Who Dat’ blog post series was born! This is the first of eight posts that will take an in-depth look at where each of the eight teams stands as they prepare for the start of the regular season. The Atlanta Beat will be the first team through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: This group will be given many chances to score and shouldn’t have much trouble doing so. Most of the scoring from this group will come from Shelley Thompson, Ramona Bachmann, and Monica Ocampo. All three of these players have played on the national level and have been successful with their former club teams and leagues. This group with the help of the midfield will put a lot of pressure on the opposing teams defense and goal tending.

The Midfield: The core of this team starts in the midfield with Tobin Heath. She is going to set the pace on both sides of the ball for the midfield and the team. She is the anchor in a superb midfield group which includes Mami Yamaguchi, Stacey Bishop, Angie Kerr, and Sophia Mundy. This group will be great in getting the ball up the field and setting the front line up with great scoring opportunities. The Beat will not be slow in getting back on counter strikes and will defend hard in this part of the field. This pace would hurt most any team but the Beat have plenty of replenishment with the sheer number of midfielders to provide fresh legs on the pitch.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The Beat’s defense and goal tending is young. The youth in the backfield may at times lead to inconsistent play allowing for opposing teams to get into the backfield and to put pressure on the goal tending. As the season passes this group will gain experience and improve.

The Atlanta Beat will be a fun team to watch and will give a good fight each game. With each passing game and experience gained this team will come together and find their stride to come up with some big wins.

The next team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Boston Breakers, so stay tuned.

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