Sky Blue FC looking to rebound against Houston; Sign Loyden

loyden

By TOM SLATER

If there ever is a game teed up for the Sky Blue FC, it’s Saturday night’s affair with the Houston Dash at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field in Week 12 action.

Houston (2-6-1, 7 points) has lost its last five matches — all by 1-0 scores, which establishes a league record. They — like all the other NWSL teams — are without their national team players.  They haven’t scored a goal since May 7 — more than two months.

The Dash is one defeat away from the longest losing streak in its short club history. And a shutout against the Sky Blue FC would tie a league record set by Boston earlier this season.

Sky Blue FC (3-3-4, 13 points) on the other hand loses only Kelley O’Hara to national team duty and gets to keep Aussie international Sam Kerr for at least two more weeks as she plays herself into shape before heading for the Olympics in Brazil.

They are, however, battling the injury bug. The team swapped out players on the 45-day injury list with Kim DeCesare going on it and Danielle Schullman coming.  Also, goalkeeper Caroline Stanley is out with a dislocated shoulder suffered against Portland last Saturday. Caroline Casey did a fine job replacing her and the team activated goalkeeper trainer and former Sky Blue and United States Women’s National Team goalkeeper Jillian Loyden. Loyden also is in her first year as the Sky Blue goalkeeper coach.

Sky Blue has never lost to Houston (3-0-3) in its last six matches and the two teams battled to a scoreless draw on April 29.

Sky Blue played very well on the road in Portland last week before falling to the Thorns, 2-1. Tasha Kai scored for the first time since opening day to give Sky Blue the lead. But former Sky Blue striker Nadia Nadim set up the first goal and scored the game-winner on a penalty to give the league-leaders the victory.

“We are looking forward to getting back on our home field on Saturday against the Houston Dash,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC coach. “This game gives us a great opportunity to bounce back from our defeat last weekend in Portland. We have been focused on this match throughout the week, and preparation has gone very well. With the game plan that we have in place, we are very confident that we will have a positive outcome.”

SKY BLUE AT THE HALF

Heading into the second half of the season, Sky Blue is rounding into form and has been very competitive this season. The midfield has started to provide much needed support with Raquel Rodriguez and Taylor Lytle starting to jell. Leah Galton has brought a new energy to the team and Holly has put her at outside midfield where she has wreaked havoc by getting behind outside defenders and serving dangerous balls.

Kai and Kerr could combine to be potent offensively by splitting time up top. With Maya Hayes back and available Sky Blue has more speed along with newcomer Catherine Zimmerman

Earlier this week, Sky Blue FC placed forward DeCesare on the 45-day disabled list due to a right knee contusion. At the same time, Sky Blue FC activated forward Schulmann from the 45-day disabled list after recovering from a right thigh strain.

During her 2016 campaign, DeCesare has made three starts over six appearances, playing a total of 242 minutes and registering three shots.

Prior to being placed on the disabled list, Schulmann logged a total of 42 minutes over three matches.

MORE ON LOYDEN

Today, Sky Blue announced the signing of Loyden. Loyden last played for Sky Blue FC in 2014, making 17 starts while recording 69 saves and four clean sheets. Joining her on the game day roster will be Casey, who has made 10 saves in three appearances this season. Prior to her injury, Stanley registered three clean sheets and 24 saves over nine matches.

“Obviously, this was not part of the original plan, but the team needs an extra goalkeeper at this time,” Loyden said. “I am happy to help in any capacity or role where I may be needed until we can get Caroline Stanley back and healthy again.”

In international play, Loyden worked her way onto the U.S. Women’s National Team (U.S. WNT) scene in 2010, earning her first cap on October 1st of that year when she backstopped her team to a 2-1 victory over China. The following year, she earned a spot on the U.S. WNT roster for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, and she served as an alternate in London for the Gold Medal winning U.S. WNT side at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Loyden joined Sky Blue FC in 2012 as part of the U.S. WNT allocation and spent two more years with the New Jersey club. Over that pair of seasons, she registered a cumulative 8-7-6 record over 21 starts with five shutouts and 115 saves.