Five things you need to know about the super semi
The playoffs spotlight shifts to Philadelphia on Saturday, where the No. 2 seeded Independence hosts magicJack at 4 p.m. at PPL Park. Questions abound, such as, can magicJack continue its dramatic game-by-game improvement since the World Cup? Or is Philly's late-season surge holding for the playoffs?
Here are five things you need to know about the super semifinal.
1. Break the tie
This much is known about Saturday's game: the season-series tie between the Independence and magicJack will finally be broken. The season series is deadlocked at 2-all, with the home team always winning. That could favor the Independence, except Philadelphia is not not playing on its customary home field at Widener University, where the Independence is an impressive 7-1-1. The game has been moved to PPL Park, a MLS stadium, to allow for a bigger crowd.
2. Vamos Independence forwards
The Independence's attack will be led with some Spanish flair, with forwards Veronica Boquete and Laura del Rio taking charge. Former U.S. national team standout Tasha Kai also makes herself known. Boquete has shown speed and cunning, helping her to meld in quickly with the Independence midstream after her season in Spain ended. Del Rio has helped Boquete adjust to life in Philly, and to feel comfortable on and off the field.
3. Watch the Wambach
Is there anything Abby Wambach can't do? She's starting at forward for magicJack, as penciled in by the coach -- herself. Wambach has excelled as the team's player-coach, scoring two goals in magicJack's 3-1 defeat of the Breakers to advance to the super semifinals. She's smart, steady, and awfully tough to stop. If the Independence can't find a way to deny her touches…it could be a long game.
4. Advantage action?
It will be an interesting case trial of action versus rest. The Independence has not played a game in a week, advancing directly to the super semi by finishing second during the regular season. MagicJack has already gone through a playoff game, perhaps getting players' postseason nerves out. What will prove more valuable? Having fresh legs? Or the playoff game experience?
5. Watching and waitingThe Western New York Flash get to kick back, put their feet up, pop a cold beverage and watch the Independence and magicJack fight it out. The Flash locked up the No. 1 seed by winning the regular season, and that moved the team straight into the final on Aug. 27. In fact, the Flash get to stay home the entire playoff season, as they will be hosting the Independence-magicJack winner on their home field in Rochester.
Nothing like scouting your opponent from a comfy couch.