Goalkeeper coach Rick Stainton speaks with Kristin Luckenbill before warm-ups (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Team Hosts Freedom in Midweek Showdown
Somerset, N.J. (Tuesday, July 6, 2010) – As the team approaches the midway point of the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season, Sky Blue FC (5-4-2, 17 points) will welcome Abby Wambach and the Washington Freedom (4-3-4, 16 points) to Yurcak Field on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The two sides currently round out the third and fourth position in the WPS Standings, respectively, and this match marks the first meeting of the season between these teams.
“Against Washington, we certainly have to place a strong consideration upon Abby, who will play a critical role in their attack,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen stated. “We have to be very solid defensively, and we must concentrate on our responsibilities throughout the entire field.”
In addition to this being this first midweek pairing of the year for Sky Blue FC, a possible concern for the team is playing in the sweltering heat that is currently making itself home throughout the Northeast.
“Preparation is the key to success in this match, and it is very important that we keep ourselves hydrated,” Miettinen commented. “In a hot environment like what we will be facing, keeping possession of the ball will be a critical focus for us. We don’t want to get engaged in a tennis match where we are continually chasing the ball. We must keep the ball and then execute when our offensive opportunities arise.”
Sky Blue FC will have a couple of new faces on the pitch this Wednesday, with Italian National Team captain Patrizia Panico making her American debut and goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill getting the start in net. Luckenbill takes over for Karen Bardsley after the Cal State-Fullerton product injured her clavicle during a WPS All-Star Game training session last week. Bardsley was the second Sky Blue FC netminder to go down to injury this season, with Jenni Branam being the first who was sidelined. Branam is still working her way into game shape following a preseason injury to her knee.
“Lucky comes to us with a lot of experience, both at the national team level and in WPS,” Sky Blue FC goalkeeper coach Rick Stainton said. “She gives us a nice physical presence in goal and reads the game very well. She’s also been with us for quite some time now, and the team has a significant level of comfort with her. Her understanding of how our back line plays and knowing how to play the appropriate depth behind them will be an advantage for us. She also has the confidence to command back there, and we will look to her to be a leader for us.”
Sky Blue FC is currently offering a special promotion for Wednesday’s game to fans who wish to have their photo taken with U.S. National Team teammates Christie Rampone, Sky Blue FC captain, and Wambach, Washington Freedom captain. For more information on the package, contact the team today at 1-888-SBFC-TIX.