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On the eve of the first game of the 2010 WPS season the ‘Who Dat’ series will wrap up. The final installment will feature the Washington Freedom. The Freedom are one of three teams whose roster has not gone through major change. The other two are the Saint Louis Athletica and Sky Blue FC.

The Front Line: This group is high-octane. The front line for the Washington Freedom doesn’t appear that it will slow down at all from last season. The freedom lead the league in GPG at 1.60. That league leading attack was fueled by Abby Wambach and speedster Lisa De Vanna.

The Midfield: The Freedom’s midfield cannot be talked about without mentioning Sonia Bompastor. Sonia’s tenacity is what fuels this group which includes Homare Sawa and Sarah Huffman. The midfield will run the offense by controling the attack and setting up the front line.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending was as bad as the front line was good. This group had the worst GAA in the league at 1.60 matching their output. The goal tending returns both Briana Scurry and Erin McLeod. The defense returns Cat Whitehill, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Jill Gilbeau. The freedom looked to improve the defense by adding Brittany Bock, Nikki Marshall, and Kristi Eveland. These newbies should help to bring down the GAA but by how much will be interesting to see.

The Washington Freedom look like they won’t slow down offensively and should pick it up a bit defensively. There is a chance they could challenge for the championship and should make the playoffs.

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This is the second to last installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series, featuring Sky Blue FC. They are the reigning champs, so it will be interesting to see how much they’ve changed their line-up to set themselves up for repeat success.

The Front Line: There isn’t much that has changed for this group in the line-up or on what they are capable of doing. They should pick-up where they left off at the end of the 2009 season. The front line features Natasha Kai and Kacey White who led the attack for the team and will do so again this season.

The Midfield: This group will get it done in any way that the team needs and they have the personnel to do so. Back from last season is Rosana, Yael Averbuch, Heather O’Reilly, and Meghan Schnur. They will be joined by USWNT member Carli Lloyd. This group could be the most talented midfield in the league.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense returns all but one of its starters from the 2009 season with Anita Asante, Keeley Dowling, and Christie Rampone. Sky Blue FC will also return Jenni Branam as the net minder from the 2009 season. If there was any weakness in this team, it would be the defense and goal tending. But don’t tell them I said that!

The Sky Blue FC look good to repeat and defend their title as champions of the league. But they will be tested because there are more than a few good contenders ready and willing to knock them off.

The next and final team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Washington Freedom, so stay tuned.

This is the sixth installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. As I mentioned in my previous post, the beginning of the 2010 season is fastly approaching and to be sure each team gets its due, there will be two series posted at a time. The Saint Louis Athletica is this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: The front line for the Saint Louis Athletica had a slow start to the 2009 season but that shouldn’t be a problem for this year’s group. Eniola Aluko is familiar with the teams system and should pick up where she left off at the end of the 2009 season. In fact, she will have more help now with fellow front line players Madelaine Edlund and Lindsay Tarpley. This unit will be ready to play from the get go.

The Midfield: If you thought the front line for the Saint Louis Athletica was stacked with talent, then you may be surprised that the midfield is as well. They have two veteran USWNT members in Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny who will steady this group and provide consistent play. On top of that, they have two international star players in Daniela and Aya Miyama who will provide a great offensive boost. This group shouldn’t have any problems working as a unit and providing great play for the Athletica.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The Athletica goal tending and defense will be as good as any in the league for the 2010 season. You will see a lot of familiar faces in the back line and minding the net. This group had the second best GAA for the 2009 season at 0.75. Tina Ellertson, Kendall Fletcher, and Elise Weber were the reason for this and they are back for 2010 season. In between the sticks you will find Hope Solo who had the leagues second best GAA of 0.82 for last season. This group is top-notch and will be hard to score against.

The Saint Louis Athletica is a good contender to be regular season champs and to knock off Sky Blue FC in their title defense.

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

This is the fifth installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. The beginning of the 2010 season is fastly approaching and to be sure each team gets its ‘Who Dat’ treatment there will be two series posted at a time. The Philadelphia Independence are this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: The front line for the Philadelphia Independence is an unproven group in the WPS. Amy Rodriguez (number one overall pick of the 2009 WPS general draft) didn’t have as a successful first WPS season as she would have liked with the Boston Breakers. And the internationals in this group; Holmfridur Magnusdottir, Karina Maruyama, and Lianne Sanderson have had success in their other league play but have yet played a game in the talented heavy WPS.

The Midfield: This group for the Independence will give the offense a spark and boost. Lori Lindsey will provide the main spark to this group creating the offensive boost. International stand out Caroline Seger will be the second catalyst in this group to give the offense some kick. Around them will be Joanna Lohman and Jennifer Buczowski who will fill in the rest of the midfield for the Independence.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending for the Independence is the most proven group on the team. Sol transplants Allison Falk and Karina LeBlanc will be part of a back line which will be tough to break. They will be joined by US Women’s National Team standout Heather Mitts who will be slotted in her natural right back position. The rest of the Independence back line will be filled in by Nikki Krzysik and Sara Larsson.

The Philadelphia Independence will keep games close and exciting to watch. They will gather some wins as they make their way through their inaugural season.

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

This is the fourth installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. The beginning of the 2010 season is fastly approaching and to be sure each team gets its ‘Who Dat’ treatment there will be two series posted at a time. The FC Gold Pride 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 FC Gold Pride who as a team had the worst GPG in the league. This is one of the key areas in which the team look to improve during the off-season. They started by keeping the foundation of this group with the retention of Christine Sinclair and Tiffeny Milbrett who were one and two respectively in goals scored for the team. With the foundation set they looked to the draft as a way to build on it. They selected Kelley O’Hara the 2009 MAC Herman award winner (POY) from Stanford University who were the runner-up in the NCAA tournament and Kaley Fountain a top prospect out of Wake Forest. Then with the unexpected folding of the Los Angeles Sol the Pride had the opportunity to bolster this group even further through the dispersal draft. With the selection of Marta (the 2009 Golden Boot award winner, the 2009 WPS Michelle Akers award winner (MVP), and WPS leading goal scorer), goals should be a plenty from this group.

The Midfield: At the end of the 2009 season this group didn’t require improvement until the departure of Leslie Osborne and Tiffany Weimer to the Boston Breakers. To prevent further disruption in this group, they traded for Camille Abily before the folding of the Sol and the dispersal draft, and selected Solveig Gulbrandsen in the international draft. These two additions will bring the midfield back up to the level it was at prior to the departures.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending for the FC Gold Pride was the second area that needed improvement at the end of the 2009 season. They held onto the cornerstone of the defense in Rachel Buehler and Carrie Drew. And then added Candace Chapman who was with the Boston Breakers last season and a Canadian women’s national team player. The Pride then used their second round pick to select Becky Edwards, a top defender from Florida State. The net minder from last season Nicole Barnhart will still work between the sticks for the Pride but should not see as many shots.

The FC Gold Pride will not be short of goals this season and will have a better defense than a year ago. They are a team which will attract crowds at whatever venue they play.

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

Installment number three of the ‘Who Dat’ series. The series takes an in-depth look at all the WPS teams in a lead up to the start of the season. The Chicago Red Stars are this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: The front line of the Red Stars started to find the back of the net in the latter part of the 2009 season with the emergence of Christiane as a scoring machine. The 2010 season should start off as it ended last season, with this group continuing their scoring ways. The main pieces of the group except for Lindsay Tarpley are still in place and the UNC duo of Casey Nogueira and Jessica McDonald as well as Ella Masar will fill the gap left by Lindsay’s absence.

The Midfield: The Midfield went through the biggest transition for the Red Stars in the off-season. Carli Lloyd, Chioma Igwe, and Nikki Krzysik left either through free agency signings or the expansion draft. The Red Stars reloaded the midfield by moving Megan Rapinoe from the forward slot and by acquiring Katie Chapman and Formiga. This group has yet to prove itself as a unit and it will be interesting to see how they perform throughout the season.

The Defense and Goal Tending: This group needed the most improvement from the 2009 season letting in an average of 1.25 goals a game, the 3rd worst in the league. The net minder for the Red Stars to start the 2010 season will be Jillian Loyden who was acquired through a trade. She played three games in the 2009 season and two of those were shutouts. Jillian has yet to prove herself day-in and day-out for a full season but has great potential and will be a determining factor in the success of the back line. The next step in bring down that GAA of 1.25 is to build a solid defense in front Loyden. The Red Stars looked to do this through the college draft. With the 4th overall pick they selected Whitney Engen from UNC and winner of the Honda award as the top women’s athlete in soccer. Whitney should bolster the defense for the Red Stars and help bring down that GAA.

The Red Stars will be an improved team from the 2009 season and will compete in every game. The big questions will be the midfield unit and the improvement of the back line.

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

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.

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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