Sky Blue FC, New Jersey's Women's Professional Soccer team, has achieved a remarkable turnaround this season, overcoming a last-place start, two coaching changes and injuries to its star forward. On May 25, nine weeks into the inaugural season of WPS, Sky Blue sat seventh - dead last - in WPS with a 1-4-2 record.
The team relieved head coach Ian Sawyers of his duties and named assistant Kelly Lindsey interim coach. Lindsey brought the team into playoff contention, but then resigned on July 29 without explanation. Desperate with only 10 days left in the regular season, the team turned to U.S. national team captain Christie Rampone to serve as a player-coach. "It was easy to accept. It was for the good of the team," Rampone said.
After three wins in four games, including two road victories in the WPS Playoffs over the Washington Freedom and the St. Louis Athletica, Rampone has helped lead her team to the cusp of the inaugural WPS Championship. Rampone says she has enjoyed her coaching duties, focusing on encouraging confidence in the players, but that she's not yet in the running for a permanent position. "I am enjoying it and having a lot of fun with it but I definitely think it's something that will bring me through the rest of the season but not into next year," Rampone said. Sky Blue FC will face the Los Angeles Sol, who advanced automatically to the Championship game for finishing the regular season in first place, on Saturday, Aug 22 (live on Fox Sports Net and Comcast Sports Net at 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT).