The starting lineups for the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard Reserve were selected Monday evening in front of a vocal and boisterous crowd at the WPS All-Star Pick ‘Em Event in downtown Atlanta. The WPS All-Star Game, which takes place Wednesday at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., employs a unique format with the 11 starters chosen for each team from among the top 22 highest vote-getters in the All-Star balloting at a pick ‘em event for fans.
The event, which began with opening comments from WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci and was hosted by Fox Soccer Channel color analyst Jenn Hildreth, included anxious moments for players as they awaited their team selections in front of a live audience. Each selection was followed by boisterous applause and the excitement of being named as a member of one of the two All-Star squads with high-fives and team cheers to go around.
The top two vote-getters in 2010 WPS All-Star voting, the Washington Freedom’s Abby Wambach and FC Gold Pride’s Marta, served as team captains and selected the rest of their team in consultation with the All-Star head coaches. Wambach chose “Abby XI” with Philadelphia Independence Head Coach Paul Riley, while Marta chose “Marta XI” with FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya. As the top vote-getter, Abby XI had the first pick and selected Atlanta Beat goalkeeper Hope Solo. Each side had only 30 seconds to make the selection.
Marta and head coach Montoya followed with the selection of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley (Sky Blue FC). That was followed by the selection of defenders including 2009 WPS Defender of the Year Amy LePeilbet from the Boston Breakers as the third pick. The coaches and captains went through defenders and midfielders sequentially before getting to forwards, in a selection order that had the whiff of some backroom collusion by coaches and captains.
But the excitement of two of the best women’s teams ever assembled – 34 of the world’s best players in total – facing off against each other was enough to get the competitive juices flowing for each side. The two coaches even discussed a trade towards the end of the evening that was ultimately jeered by players who wanted to stay on the team to which they had been selected out of loyalty.
“We’re excited. Obviously both teams are very talented and it’s going to be entertaining, and that’s how it should be,” said Marta XI coach Montoya. “Hopefully both teams will put on a good show for the fans. And with players like this, how can we not?”
“The amount of talent that will be in our locker room tomorrow and Wednesday is fantastic. Obviously we only have one practice … it’s just a matter of natural ability: let them go, roll the ball out there, roll the dice and see what happens,” said Abby XI head coach Riley. “It’s an amazing amount of talent on this team, me and Abby just looked at each other and at the list and it really doesn’t matter who you pick. We have some fabulous players so hopefully they click together and have a great game.”
At the end of the event, Riley held up a hand-written sign that read Abby XI – 7, Marta XI – 5. The challenge was on. Even Marta, who rarely breaks out the English in front of a big crowd announced: “I want to wish good luck to my team!”
The All-Star Reserves were divided between Abby XI and Marta XI prior to the Pick ‘Em Event. Reserves Caroline Seger (ankle) of the Philadelphia Independence and Kate Markgraf (hamstring) of the Chicago Red Stars were late scratches due to injury and not replaced. Television coverage of the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard Reserve begins Wednesday, June 30 at 7:30pm ET on Fox Soccer Channel and will also be webcast at womensprosoccer.com and streamed to iPhones.
Abby XI (green/home; Abby Wambach – Captain, Paul Riley – Head Coach)
#1 – Hope Solo, GK, Atlanta Beat
#3 – Amy LePeilbet, D, Boston Breakers
#6 – Lori Lindsey, M, Philadelphia Independence
#7 – Shannon Boxx, M, FC Gold Pride
#8 – Tina Ellertson, D, Atlanta Beat
#9 – Eniola Aluko, F, Atlanta Beat
#10 – Heather O’Reilly, M, Sky Blue FC
#11 – Lauren Cheney, F, Boston Breakers
#17 – Lori Chalupny, M, Atlanta Beat
#20 – Abby Wambach, F, Washington Freedom
#84 – Cat Whitehill, D, Washington Freedom
#4 – Angie Kerr, M, Atlanta Beat
#14 – Karen Carney, M, Chicago Red Stars
#19 – Kelley O’Hara, F, FC Gold Pride
#21 – Laura Kalmari, M, Sky Blue FC
#66 – Tasha Kai, F, Sky Blue FC
#85 – Jillian Loyden, GK, Chicago Red Stars
Kate Markgraf, D, Chicago Red Stars (injured/not rostered)
Marta XI (white/away; Marta – Captain, Albertin Montoya – Head Coach)
#1 – Karen Bardsley, GK, Sky Blue FC
#3 – Allison Falk, D, Philadelphia Independence
#4 – Rachel Buehler, D, FC Gold Pride
#7 – Kelly Smith, M, Boston Breakers
#8 – Sonia Bompastor, M, Washington Freedom
#9 – Ramona Bachmann, F, Atlanta Beat
#10 – Marta, F, FC Gold Pride
#12 – Christine Sinclair, F, FC Gold Pride
#13 – Kristine Lilly, M, Boston Breakers
#14 – Brittany Taylor, D, Sky Blue FC
#24 – Aya Miyama, M, Atlanta Beat
#5 – Christie Rampone, D, Sky Blue FC
#11 – Becky Sauerbrunn, D, Washington Freedom
#17 – Amy Rodriguez, F, Philadelphia Independence
#18 – Erin McLeod, GK, Washington Freedom
#22 – Alex Scott, D, Boston Breakers
#78 – Cristiane, F, Chicago Red Stars
Caroline Seger, M, Philadelphia Independence (injured/not rostered)