[WPS] FC Gold Pride won the WPS title with a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Independence on Sunday before a crowd of 5,288 in Hayward, Calif. Christine Sinclair scored twice while Marta demonstrated why she's considered the world's best women's player. The Brazilian looked dangerous whenever she got the ball, helped set up both of Sinclair's goals, assisted on Kandace Wilson's strike, and scored her 20th goal of the season.
The Gold Pride earned straight passage into the final and the right to host by finishing first in the regular season. Philadelphia needed two playoff victories -- a 1-0 win over the Washington Freedom a week ago and a 2-1 overtime victory at the Boston Breakers on Thursday.
"We beat them, 4-1, the last time we played [Sept. 11] and we knew they played two games and had a lot of travel in the last week," said Sinclair. "So we figured if we came out strong and scored early we could break them down."
Sinclair scored in the 16th minute on the fifth of a series of close-range shots -- the first two of the four shots that were blocked by keeper Val Henderson and her defenders came from Marta.
"It was like a firing range," Sinclair said. "Val, their goalkeeper, made some great saves. ... I was just sort of doing what a forward's supposed to do, and it came right to me."
Just before the half-hour mark, Wilson moved up from her defensive position to curve a long-range shot past Henderson. Afterward, Wilson sprinted the length of the field to celebrate in front of the fan section near the Pride goal.
"My mom asked me to score and came up for the game," said Wilson, the Southern Californian who had not scored this season. "So I had to celebrate in front of her."
In the 53rd minute, Marta delivered a low cross for Sinclair to tap in from close range. And Marta capped the scoring with a blast into the top of the net after a pass from Wilson.
The Gold Pride outshot the Independence 16-2 and forced nine saves from Henderson. Last season, the Pride failed to reach the playoffs -- finishing in last place. This season it was boosted by the arrival from Marta, who was available after the Los Angeles Sol folded.
"We had a good team last season that I thought played good, possession soccer," said Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "What we lacked was a finisher, and we got that in Marta."
Marta led the league with 19 goals while adding five assists. She sparkled and entertained in the final, leaving opponents in the dust with tricky moves and lightning acceleration.
"Playing with Marta is a blast," says Sinclair. "Obviously she has tremendous skill. But her speed with the ball is extraordinary. I don't think there are any players who can keep up with her."
Even if the Independence had arrived without the disadvantage of playing an overtime game four days earlier, it's doubtful it would have coped much better with Marta and Co.
2010 WPS FINAL
Sept. 26 in Hayward, Calif.
FC Gold Pride 4 Philadelphia 0. Goals: Sinclair 16, Wilson (Marta) 28, Sinclair (Marta) 53, Marta (Wilson) 90+.
FC Gold Pride -- Barnhart, Wilson, Chapman (Graczyk, 80), Buehler, Riley, Boxx (Bosio, 75), Abily (O'Hara, 66), Edwards, Milbrett, Sinclair, Marta.
Philadelphia -- Henderson, Krzysik, Falk, Johnson, Magnusdottir, Lindsey (Adams, 58), Buczkowski, Seger, DiMartino, Rodriguez, Sanderson (Mitts, 64).
Referee: Jennifer Bennett
Shots on Goal: 13-2
Corner Kicks: 2-1