The second annual Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) All-Star Game was held at the KSU Soccer Stadium on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. This year’s format was a major change from last year and took a fun twist as the teams were picked playground style. In this format the top 2 vote-getters were team captains and selected 11 starters for each team from among the top 22 highest vote-getters in the All-Star balloting at a pick ‘em event for fans hosted by STATS in downtown Atlanta. The team breakdown is as follows:
Marta XI (Albertin Montoya – Head Coach)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod (Washington Freedom)
Defenders: Allison Falk (Philadelphia Independence), Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Brittany Taylor (Sky Blue FC)
Midfielders: Kristine Lilly (Boston Breakers), Aya Miyama (Atlanta Beat), Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers), Sonia Bompastor (Washington Freedom)
Forwards: Ramona Bachmann (Atlanta Beat), Marta (FC Gold Pride), Christine Sinclair (FC Gold Pride)
Reserves: D Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), D Becky Sauerbrunn (Washington Freedom), F Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), GK Erin McLeod (Washington Freedom), D Alex Scott (Boston Breakers), F Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars), GK Karen Bardsley (Sky Blue FC)
Abby XI (Paul Riley – Head Coach)
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo (Atlanta Beat)
Defenders: Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Tina Ellertson (Atlanta Beat), Cat Whitehill (Washington Freedom)
Midfielders: Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Shannon Boxx (FC Gold Pride), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Lori Chalupny (Atlanta Beat)
Forwards: Eniola Aluko (Atlanta Beat), Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)
Reserves: M Angie Kerr (Atlanta Beat), M Karen Carney (Chicago Red Stars), F Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride), M Laura Kalmari (Sky Blue FC), F Tasha Kai (Sky Blue FC), GK Jillian Loyden (Chicago Red Stars)
From the opening whistle Marta’s XI had Abby’s XI on their heels. None other than Marta got the opening goal in the 7th minute. But she didn’t just score one goal in the 7th minute, she scored two. This was the first game I’ve seen Marta play in person. She really is an incredible player with tremendous talent. Having just heard Thierry Henry’s comments concerning Messi’s abilities being easier to attain due to his size I can see what he means when you see the explosive maneuvers in Marta’s small frame. She has this ability to dart between players like a kid in a crowd.
Many predicted this game could have 10 goals but I couldn’t help but wonder if that might have been conservative. Things settled down to a degree and both team had several chances but just as a lull fell over the game Christine Sinclair gave team Marta another goal in the 31st minute and got the energy flowing. Atlanta’s own Eniola Aluko got Abby’s XI on the board with a goal just 4 minutes later. That would be the last goal of the half as Marta’s XI took an early 3-1 lead.
It took a while in the second half to get things going but with Atlanta Beat’s Aluko wrapping up the first half with a goal teammate Aya Miyama decided to kick things off in the second half with a goal of her own to extend Team Marta’s lead to 3. Then moments later Lauren Cheney worked to narrow the gap and scored to bring the tally to Abby 2 - 4 Marta. But that wouldn’t last long as within minutes A-Rod scored what would be the final goal capping off the win for Team Marta with a final score of 5 – 2.
It was an entertaining game and the 4,610 on hand got their money’s worth. The 7 goal thriller was everything you could want from an All-Star game and helpfully it will help bring some additional attention to this great venue and Atlanta Beat organization. Did you attend or watch the All-Star game? If so, what were your thoughts?