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Has the Sol turned cold?
by Paul Kennedy, August 21st, 2009 7AM
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[WPS] A month ago, it would have been hard to find anyone taking odds against the Los Angeles Sol winning the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer title. But the oddities of the regular-season schedule (only three Sol games in the last six weeks) and playoff format (a bye for the regular-season champion Sol into the final) mean that the Sol will go in cold against red-hot Sky Blue FC (winner of back-to-back playoff games on the road) in Saturday's championship game at the Home Depot Center (TV: Fox Sports Net, Comcast Sports Net, live, 4 pm ET/1 pm PT).

Sky Blue FC is coming off a dominating performance against Saint Louis Athletica, which it beat, 1-0, on Wednesday.

While player-coach Christine Rampone again elected to use U.S. national team striker Natasha Kai off the bench, Kacey White, Yael Averbuch and Heather O'Reilly, who all looked as comfortable in Sky Blue as they once did in Carolina Blue, tormented the Saint Louis from their midfield positions.

The good news for the Sol is that it has had several months to prepare for the playoffs. Knowing that Frenchwoman Camille Abily would be unavailable for the final because of Euro '09 preparation commitments, Sol coach Abner Rogers began rearranging his midfield without his Bleue star in it.

But the Sol has won only one game in the last seven weeks -- they only played four -- after opening 11-1-4.

While Brazilian star Marta won the scoring title with 10 goals, it may be her playmaking skills that are critical in Saturday's final. Without Abily, the Sol will need all the help it can get to match Sky Blue FC's in midfield.

It's been more than two months since the Sol and Sky Blue FC have met. Los Angeles won the first games, 2-0 and 1-0, and tied the third encounter, 0-0.

This time?

Prediction: Sky Blue FC, 2-1.


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