Beat Vs. Chicago Red Stars Wednesday
The Atlanta Beat (2-7-4) open a three-game home stand Wednesday July 21 in a fourth and final match against the Chicago Red Stars (4-5-5) at 7:30 PM in the KSU Soccer Stadium.
Wednesday's game comes on the heels of a July 18 victory over Sky Blue FC (NY/NJ) in the Beat's first road win and second WPS win of the season. It will also be the Beat's fourth and final regular season match against the Red Stars as the team has had more success against the Chicago club than any other team in WPS.
The Beat boasts a 1-0-2 record against the Red Stars with ties in both games in Chicago and the team's first Women's Professional Soccer win on June 19 at the brand-new KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.
The Beat's recent 1-0 win in New Jersey ended a four-game winless streak for the Atlanta club and extended Sky Blue FC's winless streak to three games. The Beat played a possesion style offensive focussing on getting forwards in behind the Sky Blue defense. Beat forward Eniola Aluko scored the lone goal of the match off a through ball from Angie Kerr in the seventh minute.
Aluko's goal was her fifth of the season, which moves her into a tie with Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach for fourth most goals scored in WPS. The goal was also Aluko's first finish with the Atlanta team; she scored her first four goals this season in six games with the Saint Louis Athletica. Aluko's last goal before Sunday's match came in the Athletica's final match on May 16.
Sky Blue played more aggressively in the second half, with good chances coming in the 62nd and 87th minutes, but the Beat's strong defense kept Sky Blue from equalizing. Goalkeeper Hope Solo made four saves and earned her fourth shutout this season.
Solo also recorded her 50th career shutout on July 17, when the US National Team took on Sweden in a week-long camp to prepare for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The US won 3-0, with two goals from Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach and one from Red Stars midfielder Megan Rapinoe. The two teams tied on July 13, 1-1. Now, the US joins eight other countries (Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico) in the hunt for a spot in the 2011 World Cup.
The Chicago Red Stars have been surging since their loss to the Beat on June 19. Since then, the Red Stars have gone 2-0-2 earning eight points in the WPS standings, which puts them playoff contention. They are currently tied for fourth place with the Washington Freedom at 17 points, and they sit only one point behind the third-placed Sky Blue FC. Chicago hopes to gain sole possession of fourth place tonight, since the four top teams in WPS qualify for postseason play.
Both the Beat and the Red Stars are high-shooting teams. The Red Stars lead the league in shots per game with 14.71 and the Beat sits in fourth place with 11.77. The Red Stars are sixth in the league in goals per game with 0.79 and the Beat have a league-low 0.62 goals per game. In their previous three meetings, the home team has always significantly outshot the away team. In Chicago on June 6, the Red Stars outshot the Beat 16-5 in a 0-0 tie, and on July 7 the Red Stars outshot the Beat 18-6 in a 1-1 tie. However, in Kennesaw on June 19, the Beat outshot the Red Stars 17-4 in a 1-0 Beat victory.
Wednesday night's match will also boast the first concert in the brand-new KSU Soccer Stadium as part of Faith and Family Night presented by Chick-fil-A at Chastain Road. Christian artists House of Thomas and Karyn Williams will perform live after the match. There will also be a canned food drive to help restock the three MUST Ministries food pantries located in the metro Atlanta area. Fans are asked to bring non-perishable food items to donate. A portion of the proceeds from the game will also benefit MUST Ministries.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Call 678.298.4780 for tickets or visit www.TheAtlantaBeat.com.
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