Redondo Beach's Shannon Boxx got off to a superb start in her Saint Louis Athletica debut, setting up two goals in a 2-0 victory over FC Gold Pride and former L.A. Sol teammates Marta and Camille Abily.
Boxx assisted goals by English forward Eniola Aluko in the 40th and 62nd minutes as Athletica, with the best roster in Women's Professional Soccer, nabbed the top spot after the first weekend of the league's second season with a convincing win over its visitor from the Bay Area.
UCLA product Lauren Cheney scored seven minutes into her pro career as Boston topped Washington, 2-1, and U.S. national-teamers Heather O'Reilly and Natasha Kai hooked up for the lone goal in defending champion Sky Blue FC's win over visiting Chicago in New Jersey. Chicago, which was shut out in 11 of 20 matches last season and hasn't scored in five meeting with Sky Blue, had 20-10 shot and 13-2 corner-kick advantages.
Expansion clubs Philadelphia and Atlanta debuted with a scoreless draw in front of 6,028 fans, by far the weekend's biggest crowd, at Farrell Stadium in West Chester, Pa.
Eight players who helped the Sol to the top record and into the title game last year made starts in week one. In addition to Boxx, Marta and Abily, midfielder Aya Miyama played 90 minutes for Saint Louis, defender Stephanie Cox 90 for Boston and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc 90 for Philadelphia. Philadelphia's Lyndsey Patterson and Atlanta's McCall Zerboni, a UCLA product from San Clemente, also had starts.
This week's scores (home teams listed first):
Washington 1 (Long 87), Boston 2 (Cheney 7, Smith 20)
Saint Louis 2 (Aluko 40, 62), FC Gold Pride 0
Sky Blue FC 1 (Kai 7), Chicago 0
Philadelphia 0, Atlanta 0
Orange County native Scott French has been writing about soccer for more than 30 years for dozens of publications and Web sites. He was senior editor at Soccer America and was managing editor of MajorSoccerLeague Magazine from April 2007 until last summer. He has covered three World Cups for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Los Angeles Daily News, two Women's World Cups for Soccer America, the Olympic Games, European Championship, U-20 World Cup, eight MLS Cups and all four professional women's championship games.