What's at Stake: A Sol Win is Imperative—An Athletica Win, Crucial

Shoy SloganContributor IApril 24, 2009

CARSON, CA - APRIL 19:  Kendall Fletcher #2, Marta Vieira da Silva #10, Liz Bogus #17 and Manya Makoski #22 of the Los Angeles Sol warm up prior to the WPS match against FC Gold Pride at The Home Depot Center on April 19, 2009 in Carson, California. The Sol defeated FC Gold Pride 1-0.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

When you're having an inaugural season like the St. Louis Athletica, it opens a lot of preseason decisions up to speculation. They're 0 - 2, so it's certainly too early to call, but the sad fact is that they're winless and scoreless. You have to wonder:

- Did they draft poorly?
- Is their management up to snuff?
- Do they need an English-speaking coach?

St. Louis is a soccer town—the Athletica easily sold out their season opener (can any other team make that claim?), so it's not for lack of support that they'vefailed to get into the groove. And it's not like they're lacking firepower up top.

Kerri Hanks? Notre Dame all-star, give me a break. Melissa Tancredi? Tons of credentials with Canada, and their pick to start at the Beijing Olympics. Angie Woznuk? Proven deadly striker for Portland and every level of the US national team.

We've seen Jose Barcellos's sideline freakouts with Brazil's national neam, so we know he hates to lose. We've seen Hope Solo's competitive fire in goal (to say the least), and we know Lori Chalupny is a badass in the midfield.

Can we get it together, guys?

By contrast, the Los Angeles Sol roster has proven to be as good on the field as it looked on paper. Marta is scoring, Wagner is assisting, the internationals are astounding.

But this week is going to be a little different: Marta, Camilly Abily and Han Duan are all out on national team duty. They've still got Aya Miyama (who's really more like two players), Shannon Boxx, Stephanie Cox, and Aly Wagner.

This is where the Sol need to prove their depth.  Can Christie Welsh be the scoring threat she was drafted to be? Will they finally pull McCall Zerboni off the bench? 

The Sol need to prove that they're not all about Marta. If they deal the Athletica the same shutout they've dealt all their other opponents, they prove that they're mega-legit, their drafting was spot-on, and Abner Rogers really can coach at the professional level. If they lose to a down-in-the-dumps team in the first game Marta's out of town, their legitimacy is called into question.

With the Sol stars out of the way, tomorrow would be a great day for the Athletica to rise up. They had a bye last weekend and they've used it, one would hope, to rethink their strategy and work on their fitness.

With the Sol at the number one spot in the league and another home crowd to please, a win by the Athletica would look fantastic. A loss would look sad.

What's it gonna be?

Both teams kick off at 3pm CT. If you're not lucky enough to be there, you can follow the stats on Match Tracker