National Team Players Who Will Make the Difference
Christine Rampone and Abby Wambach are two of the players Maura Gladys thinks can make an impact in the upcoming National Women's Soccer League playoffs. Here’s who will get it done.
August 23, 2013
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The NWSL playoff semifinal matches go down this weekend, and the four teams will rely on U.S. national team members to carry them to victory. Here is the one national team member on each team that will make the difference.
Cheney has consistently been the most dominant player in the NWSL, but can that translate over into playoff success? Short answer? Yes. Long answer, Cheney has controlled the midfield all year for FC Kansas City. In Portland, Kansas City faces one of the weaker midfields in the league, especially on the defensive end. Cheney and rookie of the year Erika Tymrak should be able to tear the Portland midfield apart. The only person who could foil those plans? See below.
With Alex Morgan still battling an injury, Heath needs to be the key cog in Portland’s midfield, driving the offense forward. Christine Sinclair has found her scoring touch as of late, so if Heath can work her magic and get her the ball, the Thorns have a shot at the upset. However, Heath’s good friend Cheney is the one thing standing in her way. Heath and Cheney know each other’s games better than almost anyone else. Whoever wins the battle in the midfield will be able to set her team up for a shot at victory.
Although breakout young goalkeeper Adrianna Franch is a close second, it’s no secret that Abby Wambach is Western New York’s heart and soul. Wambach is a clutch scorer, both at the club and international level, and if there is one player in the entire league that will snag a goal at a key moment, it’s Wambach. She scored 11 goals for the Flash this season, including three game-winners and two equalizers. Wambach has, and always will be, the key.
As the only national team player on Sky Blue’s squad besides the backup Jill Lloyden, it will fall to Christie Rampone to keep Sky Blue in the NWSL playoffs. She will guide a slumping Sky Blue squad that hasn’t played their best soccer for months. But she’s done it before. As player-coach of Sky Blue FC in the WPS in 2009, Rampone led a floundering squad to a championship title. The defender is still faster than most players 10-15 years her junior, and has stuck to the likes of Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux all season. Sky Blue will need Rampone to make big plays on the back line, and keep the team together during a charged playoff atmosphere.
Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.