PredictionsHere is Soccer America Associate Editor Dean Caparaz's prediction for the games on June 2 and 3: Atlanta 1 Carolina 1 San Diego 2 Bay Area 1 Philadelphia 3 Washington 2 Boston 1 New York 2
Previews(all times ET) Saturday, June 2 - (7:00 pm) - Carolina (1-4-1, tied for 8th place, 4 pts) at Atlanta (3-0-3, 2nd place, 12 pts) (Fox Sports Net South). Season series: First meeting; All-time regular-season series: First meeting. Leading scorers: Carolina: M Hege Riise (1 g, 3 a = 5 pts); Atlanta: F Charmaine Hooper (2 g, 1 a = 5 pts). Did you know? Carolina F Mikka Hansen briefly played for the U.S. under-20 team but realized she would probably never play for the full U.S. team. Hansen, whose father is Danish, instead played for Denmark and started against the United States in the opener of World Cup '99. Key players out: Carolina: M Nicole Roberts (fractured tibia and fibula in leg-R); Atlanta: M Sara Reading (knee-R), M Charry Korgel (broken fibula-L). Notes: Atlanta M Nikki Serlenga (strained hamstring-R) is probable but might not start. That means more playing time for M Amy Walsh. ... The leaky Courage defense gets some reinforcements. Carolina D Wen Lirong is expected to start on Saturday after sitting out the last match due to an eye injury suffered in practice. Carolina D Staci Wilson is on the travel squad and could see her first action of the season. ... Carolina F Danielle Fotopoulos had her best practice of the season this past week. But it remains to be seen whether Coach Marcia McDermott starts last week's heroine up front or on the bench for the second straight game. KEY MATCHUP: Carolina M Hege Riise vs. Atlanta M Marci Miller: The Beat midfielder has been impressive -- winning balls in the air and on the ground and generally clogging up the midfield -- since returning from a broken jaw. Miller will have help from Walsh to watch the crafty Norwegian playmaker, who is the key to the Courage attack. SCHEDULED REFEREES: Referee: Mark Arblaster; Assistant Referees: Karalee Sutton (SAR), Corey Rockwell (JAR); Fourth Official: Patrick Baker. Saturday, June 2 - (7:00 pm) - Bay Area (1-4-1, tied for 8th place, 4 pts) at San Diego (1-3-2, 6th place, 5 pts) (Fox Sports Net Bay Area, Cox Ch. 4). Season series: First meeting; All-time regular-season series: First meeting. Leading scorers: Bay Area: M Sissi (1 g, 3 a = 5 pts); San Diego: F Shannon MacMillan (4 g, 1 a = 9 pts). Did you know? San Diego G Jaime Pagliarulo succeeded Bay Area G Jen Mead in goal at George Mason. Key players out: Bay Area: Bay Area: D Lauren Molinaro (broken ankle-R); San Diego: M Trudi Sharpsteen (arthroscopic knee surgery, cartilage-R). Notes: Spirit M Julie Foudy takes on the team coached by her husband, Ian Saywers. ... This is a battle of a team (San Diego) that has trouble scoring and one that has trouble defending (the Bay Area). The Spirit broke out for three goals last week, but that was against a porous Carolina defense. Only two Spirit players -- F Shannon MacMillan (4) and M Shannon Boxx (1) have scored goals for San Diego. ... San Diego M Jen Mascaro should be back in the lineup after missing the Carolina trip last week with a left knee irritation. ... The CyberRays tightened up their defense last week but still lost, 1-0, to Atlanta. Coach Ian Sawyers used Bay Area D Carey Dorn and M/D Ann Cook for most of the game in a defensive lineup. Who starts between Dorn, Cook and M Kim Clark remains to be seen. ... CyberRays F Julie Murray didn't play until the second half last weekend. No word on who will start next to F Katia this week. ... Speaking of Matildas, Bay Area D Dianne Alagich is in San Jose but won't be on the 16-player travel roster in San Diego. ... If Bay Area M Brandi Chastain gets a yellow card, her fourth of the season, she will be suspended for the Bay Area's following match, at New York on June 10. KEY MATCHUP: Bay Area M Brandi Chastain vs. San Diego M Julie Foudy: Last week, Carolina M Erin Baxter hounded Foudy all over Fetzer Field. The Bay Area has yet to take that tactic with an opposing playmaker, but Chastain would be the player to fill that role. SCHEDULED REFEREES: Referee: Faith Rossi; Assistant Referees: Sharon Wheeler (SAR), Kia Dehpanah (JAR); Fourth Official: Pat Noval. Sunday, June 3 - (4:00 pm) - Washington (3-2-2, 3rd place, 11 pts) at Philadelphia (4-1-2, 1st place, 14 pts) (Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic). Season series: Philadelphia leads 1-0; All-time regular-season series: Philadelphia leads 1-0 (Philadelphia leads 2-0 on aggregate goals). Leading scorers: Washington: F Pretinha (4 g, 1 a = 9 pts); Philadelphia: M Liu Ailing (3 g, 1 a = 7 pts). Did you know? Philadelphia F Mandy Clemens became the 10th different Charge player to score a goal this season when Philly defeated the Freedom, 2-0, on May 31. It was Clemens' first goal of the season. Key players out: Washington: None; Philadelphia: D Erica Iverson (stress fracture foot-R), G Melissa Moore (broken hand-R), F Kelly Smith (stress fracture ankle-R). Notes: Two days after the visiting Charge shut out Washington at RFK Stadium, the two teams meet again in the Freedom's first visit to Villanova Stadium. ... Washington has done better on the road, winning twice, losing once and tying once, than at home, where it has a 1-1-1 record. Meanwhile, Philly is 1-1-0 on the carpet at 'Nova. KEY MATCHUP: Washington M Jen Grubb vs. Philadelphia M Liu Ailing: Now that Liu has become a major goalscoring threat, the Freedom needs someone in midfield to shut Liu down. Grubb is a defensive stalwart but may need help to track the crafty World Cup veteran. SCHEDULED REFEREES: Referee: Peter Kokolski; Assistant Referees: Kelly Lee (SAR), Tony Russo (JAR); Fourth Official: Martha Sinclair. Sunday, June 3 - (6:00 pm) - New York (2-1-3, 4th place, 9 pts) at Boston (2-2-2, 5th place, 8 pts) (CNN/SI national). Season series: First meeting; All-time regular-season series: First meeting. Leading scorers: New York: F Tiffeny Milbrett (2 g, 1 a = 5 pts); Boston: F Dagny Mellgren (2 g, 3 a = 7 pts). Did you know? New York defeated Boston, 2-0, in Spring Training. Power F Tiffeny Milbrett and M Sara Whalen combined on both goals. Key players out: New York: None; Boston: None. Notes: As of Wednesday, Boston had sold over 7,000 tickets for the game. ... Breakers G Tracy Ducar will start against New York. Breakers G Karina LeBlanc will start Boston's next match, at home against Atlanta. ... New York needs to possess the ball more than it has in recent games to give itself a chance against a suddenly potent Boston attack. But that's unlikely to happen unless New York M Jen Lalor is "92 minutes" fit as Coach Pat Farmer says. Boston M Bettina Wiegmann, M Kristine Lilly and F Maren Meinert, who often drops back to midfield, give the Breakers a big edge over New York in the middle. ... Neither team was happy with late defensive breakdowns last weekend, when each team gave up a late goal and lost. Farmer was particularly upset at how his team defended set pieces. "We have to tighten up on free kick and corner kick stuff," he said. "It's a point of consternation for the old bald guy in charge." ... Boston will go up against three fast frontrunners, so Coach Jay Hoffman says he will have to "tweak" his defense. "I'm not one to believe we're going to play three backs against their three forwards," Hoffman said. "That to me doesn't seem the most advantageous route to go. ... By the same token, you certainly want to take your chances. Do we want to push people forward? Yes. We want to see if Tiffeny Milbrett or Kerry Connors is going to track people back 60 yards. We would rather have one of their forward playing 80 yards away from the goal instead of 40 yards of the goal." ... Boston seeks its first home win. The Breakers have already lost to Atlanta, 1-0, and Philadelphia, 3-2, at Boston University's Nickerson Field. KEY MATCHUP: New York F Tiffeny Milbrett vs. Boston D Kate Sobrero: The Breakers will probably score a goal or two, so the onus is on Milbrett to put the Power on the board. This should be a good battle between two U.S. national team speedsters. Sobrero is one of the best man-markers in the world, but even she will have a difficult time knocking her fellow Olympian off the ball. SCHEDULED REFEREES: Referee: Kari Seitz. Assistant Referees: Steven Taylor (SAR), Bahij Salman (JAR); Fourth Official: Jennifer Bennett.
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