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WPS Fantasy Shots: Week 1

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Lauren Salter

pumaMany things are new to Women’s Professional Soccer this year: Two new teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta made their debut this weekend, the collegiate and expansion drafts brought in new players, changes in the offseason introduced new coaches,  fantastic advertisements drew in new sponsors, and PUMA unveiled a new set of jerseys .

One of the most exciting additions to the WPS is something that is challenging and nerve-wracking. It’s exciting and competitive. It’s not even real.

The WPS Fantasy Challenge kicked off two weeks before the opening weekend and has already garnered hundreds of fans. For those who want competition, or those who simply want to support their favorite players, the Fantasy Challenge is a great addition to the WPS community.

My own experience with fantasy teams prior to the creation of the WPS Fantasy was negative. As a member of my collegiate track and field team, I would join the rest of my female teammates as we scorned the boys who were constantly talking about fantasy baseball, hockey, or football.

How could anyone’s life be so controlled by something that doesn’t even matter in the big scheme of things?

Following the opening weekend matches on Twitter and the WPS Match-tracker, I saw that many tweets and posts were about fantasy rosters. Some tweets or posts were extremely positive as they had chosen players who performed well.

Others were not so thrilled. Some of my favorites were: “Epic @wpsfantasy fail”. Another: “Dear Abby, please score. A bunch of times, if you can. My fantasy team depends on it. Yours in soccer, dharv5.”

After a particularly crafty bicycle kick by Boston’s Fabiana, attempting to score against Washington on Saturday, a tweet was sent out by @WPSFansGameDay: “How many points does a bicycle kick count as on fantasy?”

During this opening weekend of WPS’s second season, I found myself enthralled with every game, including those that didn’t involve my favorite teams. While I was as excited for the season last year, I decided to make a fantasy team this time around.

My fantasy roster for Week One consisted of players from 6-of-8 teams, and all were playing in each match up of the weekend. Naturally, I was keen to see how well I would do in my choices and their points earned.

Who would have thought that a fantasy naysayer would turn into a fantasy nut?

In light of my new found obsession, I’ve decided to do a weekly article entitled Fantasy Shots. It is my hope that you, as readers and soccer fans, and perhaps fantasy participants, will find it useful in reviewing the previous week’s fantasy achievements. I will also preview the next week’s games, including suggestions for picks, captain choices, and formations.

Mind you, while I am passionate about soccer and fairly knowledgeable (if I do say so myself) on the topic, I should not be held responsible if my pick suggestions fail at garnering many (if any) points.

In saying that, I learned from my first week to, like you do during exams, follow your own first instincts, as they are usually right.

I took advice from some fellow B/R writers and fans (I won’t mention any names though…*coughLaurenGreencough*) and found that, had I listened to my gut instead of their suggestions, I probably would have been near the top of the listings.

No hard feelings, though!

To create your own WPS Fantasy team, click here !

Oh, good luck coming up with a team name! This might be the hardest part of your Fantasy experience!

Week One of WPS Fantasy turned out to be more of a guessing game than anything logical. Since there were no past results to look at, besides those from the 2009 season, it made things more difficult in choosing a Week 1 team.

Many fans simply chose to represent their favorite WPS squads on their rosters, though no more than five players on your fantasy roster can be from the same team. Others elected to honor their favorite players, all the while staying under the $10 million budget allotted for the week.

However, many fans capitalized on their picks, and scored big. The following are the Week 1 top four point-achievers for each position (any more might bore you!).

For scoring and how each player gains points, visit the WPS Fantasy Scoring Rules .

Goalkeepers: Allison Whitworth (Atlanta, 43 points), Hope Solo (St. Louis, 42 points), Karen Bardsley (Sky Blue FC, 40 points), Karina LeBlanc (Philadelphia, 35 points)

Defenders: Leigh Ann Robinson (Atlanta, 10 points), Elise Weber (St. Louis, 10 points), Kendall Fletcher (St. Louis, 10 points), Brittany Taylor (Sky Blue FC, 10 points)

Midfielders: Allie Long (Washington, 21 points), Shannon Boxx (St. Louis, 19 points), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC, 12 points), Angie Kerr (Atlanta, 6 points)

Forwards: Eniola Aluko (St. Louis, 27 points), Kelly Smith (Boston, 16 points), Natasha Kai (Sky Blue FC, 16 points), Lauren Cheney (13 points)

aluko_eniola_200

Thanks to her two goals (one being the game-winner) in the 2-0 St. Louis win over FC Gold Pride , St. Louis forward Eniola Aluko was the most powerful forward of the weekend. Her success was made possible through the two assists by midfielder Shannon Boxx, who debuted in her first game with St. Louis. The chemistry the duo is already showing makes them a force to be watched during the next couple of games, if not the rest of the season.

When choosing a captain for your team (keep in mind captains’ points are doubled) the automatic look goes to the forwards (Kelly Smith or Aluko would have been a good choice) or the midfielders (my own captain for the week was Boxx, who gained me the most points with 38), but consider your goalkeeping options. The leader of the WPS Challenge for Week 1 had St. Louis goalkeeper Hope Solo as their captain, and as such gained their team a whopping 84 points just from Solo.

As will be customary in following Fantasy Shot articles, I will post the results of games for the week, my team for the week (with their point totals), and then I will suggest picks for the next week.

Boston 2-1 Washington

St. Louis 2-0 FC Gold Pride

Sky Blue FC 1-0 Chicago Red Stars

Atlanta 0-0 Philadelphia

Lauren’s Week 1 Team (* denotes captain)

Formation: 3-4-3

Goalkeeper: Karina LeBlanc (Philadelphia, 35 points)

Defenders: C. Whitehill (Washington, -2 points), A. LePeilbet (Boston, -1 point), B. Taylor (Sky Blue FC, 10 points)

Midfielders: S. Bompastor (Washington, -5 points), *S. Boxx (St. Louis, 38 points), H. O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC, 12 points), C. Abily (FC Gold Pride, 2 points)

Forwards: A. Wambach (Washington, 7 points), Marta (FC Gold Pride, 1 point), L. Cheney (Boston, 13 points)

My gut instinct was to put Kai up top, but I switched her out with Marta last minute. I also added Brittany Taylor to my defensive line instead of Kendall Fletcher, though that wouldn’t have made a difference in points. Both played stellar games and scored the same amount of points in Fantasy.

Another failed instinct was to put Boston’s Kristine Lilly in the midfield. I replaced her with Abily last minute as well, but would have gained a couple more points with Lilly.

LeBlanc was always going to be my goalkeeper, after I considered other options, including Solo.

The following are my suggestions for the second week of WPS Fantasy. While these are educated picks, feel free to choose who you wish. Keep in mind that anything can happen in a soccer match, and it is still very early to be basing all your picks on previous statistics.

Picks for Week 2 Team (* denotes captain):

Formation: 3-5-2 (midfielders scoring or assisting is worth more than a forward so you might consider loading your midfield)

Goalkeepers: *H. Solo (STL)

St. Louis (1-0) takes on the Chicago Red Stars (0-1) on Saturday. With the Athletica’s solid defense, it will be tough for Chicago’s forwards to get to Solo. With a clean sheet (worth 40 points as captain), a win (worth 20 points as captain) and a couple saves (4 points each as captain), Solo could gain massive points this week.

WATCH LIST: K. Bardsley (SBFC)

As Sky Blue takes on Marta and FC Gold Pride, Bardsley will likely be facing some shots from Brazilian Marta, as well as from a dangerous front line including MAC Trophy winner Kelly O’Hara, Canadian Christine Sinclair, and former US forward Tiffeny Milbrett. With a shutout, Bardsley will also rake in points.

Defenders: B. Taylor (SBFC), A. LePeilbet (BOS), C. Whitehill (WAS)

Taylor will have her hands full against Marta and FC Gold Pride, but her stellar game against Chicago speaks for itself. She is a wise choice for the defense.

LePeilbet (BOS) will be facing Amy Rodriguez and Philadelphia, but the Independence struggled to find net against Atlanta in their home opener. LePeilbet’s stature in the back works in her credit.

Whitehill (WAS) is a constant in the Washington back line and has been called the best defender in the world. Against a strong Chicago front line, Whitehill may have her hands full, but she’s rock solid.

WATCH LIST: K. Fletcher (STL), E. Weber (STL), K. McNeill (ATL)

Fletcher (STL) and Weber (STL) take on Chicago, but the St. Louis defense held up beautifully against the second half formation of 3-2-5 set up by FCGP in an attempt to score quickly.

Kia McNeill (ATL), who was traded to Atlanta from St. Louis, was regarded as one of the stand-out defenders of the WPS last season. She’ll prove challenging for Washington to get around.

Midfielders: S. Boxx (STL), H. O’Rielly (SBFC), A. Long (WAS), K. Lilly (BOS), S. Bompastor (WAS)

Allie Long (WAS) proved this weekend that she still has a nose for the goal, as well as  playmaking ability. Her goal against Boston was beautiful and she threatened several more times. Her pairing with Bompastor and Wambach up top might be too much for Chicago to handle.

Kristine Lilly (BOS) showed that age doesn’t matter as she was everywhere on the field against Washington. She had several shots to her credit, and almost a goal. The world’s second greatest goalscorer, it’s only a matter of time before she finds the back of a net.

Boxx (STL) and O’Reilly (SBFC) both contributed to their team’s goals. Boxx had the two assists on the two goals of the game, while O’Reilly assisted on Sky Blue’s lone goal. Both are solid in the midfield and play a full 90.

WATCH LIST: A. Kerr (ATL), A. Miyama (STL), L. Chalupny (STL), H. Sawa (WAS), C. Abily (FCGP)

Any midfielder is a good choice at this point, as the league is packed with talent through the midfield. The above all played wonderfully in their openers, and may be a presence in the next week.

Forwards: A. Wambach (WAS), L. Cheney (BOS)

Wambach (WAS) struggled to find the back of the net against Boston, but never count her out of the running.  As the Freedom work out the kinks in the midfield, Wambach will have plenty more opportunities.

Cheney (BOS) is coming off of a spectacular winter with the US National Team and has already proved herself against professional defenses by scoring the first goal of the WPS 2010 season against Washington. My guess is that she won’t be slowing down any time soon, particularly with Lilly behind her.

WATCH LIST: E. Aluko (STL), N. Kai (FCGP), K. Smith (BOS), Marta (FCGP)

The goal scorers of last week proved early that they have the back of the net in mind. Watch for great combinations with Boston teammates Lilly, Cheney, and Smith.

The duo of Shannon Boxx and Eniola Aluko has shown it’s face already, as the pair combined for both of St. Louis’s goals against FC Gold Pride. Will they be the next dynamic duo?

Keep an eye out for Hawaiian Natasha Kai, who is always explosive, energetic, and eager to score. Marta can explode at any minute, and tends to take several shots on goals, which also gets points.

Good luck, and let us know how you do in the comments section!


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