By John Philip Wyllie
For the second time this year a national championship will be decided in America’s Finest City. On Sunday afternoon USD’s Torero Stadium will play host to the third annual Founders Cup Championship of women’s professional soccer. While January’s Super Bowl set a new standard for hype and hoopla, Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. clash between the Atlanta Beat and the Washington Freedom promises to be much more competitive than Tampa Bay’s annihilation of Oakland.
Mexico’s national team captain and all-time leading scorer, Maribel Dominguez will team with Canadian international Charmaine Hooper on the Beat’s high scoring forward line. The Freedom will counter with America’s Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, the best one-two punch in the WUSA. Defensively, the match will pit two of the best goaltenders in women’s soccer against each other; the Beat’s Briana Scurry and the Freedom’s Siri Mullinix. Something has got to give.
For Dominguez, an Atlanta Beat victory would be somewhat of a consolation prize. Earlier this summer, her Mexican national team lost in its bid to compete in successive Women’s World Cups, so a Beat victory would no doubt help to soothe that disappointment. A Beat victory would also cap what has been a magical rookie season for the 24-year old Mexico City native.
With seven goals and four assists, the quick and crafty Dominguez was Atlanta’s second leading scorer. In fact, she led the entire league in scoring through much of the season and recorded what can only be called a career day as the season was getting underway. On April 12, Dominguez shredded the Boston Breakers defense notching three goals and an assist to tie a league record for single game points with seven. Her rapid development as a goal scoring threat took a lot of the pressure off Hooper and contributed to the Canadian striker’s third consecutive season at the top end of the scoring table.
Dominguez no doubt feels fortunate to be playing in Founders Cup III. Last week her Atlanta Beat was just 90 seconds from elimination in their semifinal match against the San Diego Spirit. A Connie Pohlers’ goal brought the teams even with regulation time running out and Hooper delivered the game winner three minutes into the overtime.
With two potent attacks battling two rugged defenses, Sunday’s match has the makings of an equally tight match. A limited number of seats are still available. (1-877-4SOCCER)