Women's Professional Soccer kicks off its unique playoff format with a first-round match on Saturday (TV: Fox Sports Net, live, 4 pm ET). The
Washington Freedom is favored against visiting Sky Blue FC in a repeat of their regular-season finale. The Freedom has beaten Sky Blue twice and tied it once this season but will be without French
star Sonia Bompastor
, who has joined the Bleues to prepare for the UEFA Women's Championship.
Player-coach Christine Rampone
and the rest of the Sky Blue FC defense will have to do a better job than it did last Saturday when Abby Wambach
and Lisa De Vanna
teamed up for all three goals in the Freedom's 3-1 win that clinched third place.
A bigger loss than Bompastor for Washington could
be central defender Anita Asante
for Sky Blue FC. Asante has left to join England in training for Finland '09.
A high-scoring game is
expected on Saturday. The Freedom and Sky Blue FC combined for 15 goals in their three meeting, including the 4-4 tie a month ago.
The winner will face Saint Louis Athletica
Wednesday, and the Super Semifinal winner will go on to meet regular-season champion Los Angeles Aug. 22 at the Home Depot Center.