Sky Blue FC Plays Top Seeded FC Gold Pride

Meghann Burke gets the start in net tonight for Sky Blue FC (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).

Team Looks to Pull Even in the Standings with Washington Freedom

Piscataway, N.J. (Wednesday, September 1, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (7-10-4, 25 points) goes into tonight’s match at Yurcak Field with first place FC Gold Pride (14-3-4, 46 points) knowing that a pivotal three points are on the line. If Sky Blue FC is able to overcome Marta and the rest of the high-powered FC Gold Pride offense to pull off the victory, the team would draw even with the Washington Freedom (7-8-7, 28 points) in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Standings.

“Without question, we have the focus of FC Gold Pride on our minds,” Sky Blue FC head coach Rick Stainton commented. “We have been placing a particular focus on our shape, regarding how to attack them and how to defend them. We understand that these three points are vital for us to keep pace in the standings, and we look to give every bit of effort that we have tonight.”

Sky Blue FC seemingly played itself into the driver’s seat for the postseason this past Saturday when a 31st minute goal from forward Tasha Kai had the team leading the Freedom on the road, 1-0, as the match approached the 79th minute. The game then took an unfortunate turn as a penalty kick conversion and go-ahead tally five minutes later by Washington captain Abby Wambach gave the host side an eventual 2-1 victory. FC Gold Pride is coming off a record 6-1 defeat of the Atlanta Beat this past weekend.

“As a whole, we’ve been trying to put the past behind us so we can focus on what is now being presented in front of our team,” Stainton remarked. “We know we have a tough task in slowing down FC Gold Pride, and we must be able to hold the ball to create and control the tempo of the game. We will look to build on our own attack to keep them on their heels, and we must pressure them a little bit higher to keep their offense at bay.”

Tonight’s match will see Sky Blue FC start its fourth different goalkeeper of the season, with veteran Meghann Burke getting the starting nod. Jenni Branam is currently day-to-day after suffering a setback last Saturday to a knee injury that originated in the preseason. Burke took over in net for Branam immediately after the goal by Kai against the Freedom.

“Experience in this league is crucial, and it was good to see Meghann get some time against Washington, both to face some shots and to also get a little bit more comfortable with the players in front of her,” Stainton said. “Going into this game, she now has some added confidence, and the team has been able to become even more comfortable with her on the field. We now know what we will get with Meghann during game action, which is a solid goalkeeper with good hands and also plays very well with her feet.”

A familiar face will return to the Sky Blue FC bench tonight when midfielder Carli Lloyd is slated to be rostered for the first time since Sunday, April 25th, a road win over the Chicago Red Stars in which she suffered an ankle injury.

Tickets for tonight’s pairing with FC Gold Pride are still available by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX or by visiting the Yurcak Field box office, and gates will open tonight at 5:30 p.m.

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