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This post couldn’t wait until tomorrow, although I am exhausted and by the time it gets posted it might just be well after midnight. As I sit watching the NCAA finals, I swear I hear the crowd chanting “Breakers, Breakers, Breakers!” This is the result of an evening at the Breakers “Meet the Team” event. Before I get into the details, I would like to thank the Breakers front office for holding this event for their members, the coaches for being the ultimate hosts, and the players for their kindness and dedication.

The “Meet the Team” event had a great turnout with over 400 fans in attendance to show their support. The fans got a chance to mingle with each other. They shared their favorite stories from last season while munching on a selection of delicious cheeses, crackers, and grilled vegetables (Chioma, hope you got to try some of them.) After a full belly and a few stories,  Andy Crossley stepped up to the podium and introduced the hard workers from the front office who make these events and games run seamlessly. At the completion of the front office introductions, he welcomed into the room the 2010 Breakers.

And at this the room erupted into a loud cheer. Tony took the podium next. He took a  moment to explain the upcoming introductions, player autograph signings, and most importantly, his outlook for this team and the 2010 season. The first player up to the podium was Leslie Osborne. In only a way she could, Leslie made the room all hers. She introduced herself by giving her name, position, where she is from, her college alumni, and former team. Tony then listed out her accomplishments on the pitch. This would repeat all down the line for each player.

I point this out for two reasons. The first is that these players deserve recognition for what they have done and I am glad Tony took the time to mention them. The second is that it shows the players dedication to the team and its accomplishments rather than their individual ones. The fans showed their appreciation for each and every player. But they did give a little extra for the returning players for what they treated us to last season. As the crowd wound down, the players took their seats and started signing autographs and greeting fans.

As I worked my way through the line to each player, they were all friendly, courteous, and excited to meet their supporters. Kelly Smith was sitting, standing, sitting, and standing again and again; signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. She did so without a flinch and with a smile. Alex Scott and I had a chuckle about her ability to go forward and find the back of the net and whether Tony would be able to stop her from doing this. Jen Nobis is as great in person as her Tweets would indicate. Stephanie Cox gave her recap of the USWNT snow bowl game versus Mexico. Amy LePeilbet, Allison Lipsher, and Liz Bogus were swarmed by the masses for pictures. Kristine Lilly- I don’t need to say more just that she is fantastic, humble and great. Claire Zimmeck and Fabiana were signing away; I wonder if their hands started to cramp. The  Taryn Hemmings, Leslie Osborne, and Analisa Marquez table was the most efficient of the evening. Sarah Walsh and I discussed her hair and how much product she uses to get it that way (your secret is safe with me.) Sarah’s hair tried to over shadowed Maggie Tomecka, but she was great to talk too. Tiffany Weimer and Kasey Moore were great fun to chat with and had the second most efficient table. In my opinion, the best table was saved for last with Lauren Cheney and Jordan Angeli. Lauren was as friendly as can be and Jordan had me chuckling.

The night has left me excited for the upcoming season and what the Breakers will accomplish. This post is just one of the ways I will be spreading the word about how extraordinary they are. I wish each and every player success- you all deserve it.

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.

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