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Mitts may miss Indy's inaugural

Heather Mitts, among the most popular players and best outside defenders in Women's Professional Soccer, is questionable to play in the Independence's inaugural game, 6 p.m. Sunday against the Atlanta Beat at West Chester University.

Heather Mitts has been sidelined for a few weeks with a quadriceps injury. (Armando Franca/AP file photo)
Heather Mitts has been sidelined for a few weeks with a quadriceps injury. (Armando Franca/AP file photo)Read more

Heather Mitts, among the most popular players and best outside defenders in Women's Professional Soccer, is questionable to play in the Independence's inaugural game, 6 p.m. Sunday against the Atlanta Beat at West Chester University.

Like the Independence, Atlanta is an expansion team in the second-year WPS.

Mitts has been sidelined for a few weeks with a quadriceps injury, according to Independence coach Paul Riley.

She was the only player who didn't practice on Tuesday as the Independence held a double-session workout at United Sports in Downingtown.

"Even if she could go I'm not sure I would risk her anyway and give her another week," Riley said.

Other than Mitts, Riley said the team was in good health. One player who definitely won't compete against Atlanta is defender Allison Falk. She must sit out the game after earning a red card in her final match last year with the now-defunct Los Angeles Sol.

Like all teams, the Independence will look to develop a key finisher, and Riley said that two national team players, Amy Rodriguez of the U.S. team and Lianne Sanderson of England, give the Independence a strong duo up top.

"I feel that they both suit each other's style of play," Riley said.

Riley said that several starting positions remain unsettled. He said he may have a better handle after the team's intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday.

One of the interesting battles is in goal, where Val Henderson is battling veteran Karina LeBlanc.

Last season, LeBlanc was the starting goalkeeper for Los Angeles, and Henderson was the backup.

When asked about his starting keeper, Riley said, "I'm not giving that one away yet."

Riley said that one of the strengths of his team is its fitness level and that it's a matter of the players getting to know each other's games.

Seven members of the team recently returned after competing in World Cup qualifiers.

"We have really had everybody together for one game this preseason," Riley said.

That was a 3-0 win on March 20 over the University of North Carolina, not coincidently the Independence's best showing of the preseason.