Nine games into the season, the Sky Blue FC had strong hopes of being more than 1-4-4 team with just seven points while occupying the bottom of the table.
But this has been anything but a normal season for the Sky Blue or the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The Women’s World Cup has torn most rosters into tatters with national team players from Canada, Mexico, Australia and the United States coming in and out.
And injuries to Nadia Nadim and top draft choice Sarah Killion haven’t helped things.
"It certainly has been an odd year," admitted Sky Blue FC technical director and coach Jim Gabarra. "There are games we thought we should have won, that we ended up tying. And matches where we thought we would come out with a tie and we had a loss. Even game like Washington where we should have scored four goals or so and we let up a late one to lose, 1-0. We’ve played well most of the time but have had some bad breaks go against us. We’re still in striking distance (for moving up the table). But we can only get three points at a time."
Nadim should be back in the lineup when the Sky Blue FC kicks off the second part of the season hosting the Chicago Red Star tonight at 6 p.m. at Yurcak Field at Rutgers University. Sky Blue FC will be looking to break an eight-game winless streak afer opening the season with a 1-0 victory over FC Kansas City.
The Red Stars are at the top of the NWSL table with a 4-1-3 record. Chicago came off the World Cup break last weekend – or at least it tried to. The Red Stars match in Washington, D.C., was delayed for nearly 3 ½ hours before being called off for good. The match will be replayed at a later date. The Spirit had taken a 2-1 lead after an apparent go-ahead goal was disallowed for a controversial offside call.
Sofia Huerta comes into the match as the NWSL’s leading scorer with six goals. Chicago will be without United States National Team players Shannon Boxx, Julie Johnston, Lori Chalupny and Christen Press.
Sky Blue FC will be without five of its six national team players. Christie Rampone, Kelley O’Hara (US), Caitlin Foord, Samantha Kerr (Australia) and Jonelle Filigino (Canada) are all still playing in the quarterfinal round of the WWC.
Monica Ocampo from Mexico has returned from Canada after Las Tri were eliminated in three matches but she hasn’t reported to Sky Blue FC.
"Monica has been back and we hope to see her at camp," said the coach. "If she trains, should be available."
One player who will be available is Coco Goodson. Goodson announced her retirement during training camp but has now decided she wants to play again. To make room on its roster, Sky Blue FC has waived Dutch defender/midfielder Maruschka Waldus. Waldus appeared in one match for Sky Blue.
"She called and said she wanted to play," Gabarra said. "She could play in the back but also has experience at striker if we want to put her there to team with Nadia."
Just one more thing in this hard-to-figure season.