Georgia Sports 10:10 p.m. Sunday, May 9, 2010 Text size:
Decrease Increase Beat lose, but new stadium a big hitShareThisPrint E-mail .By Doug Roberson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Beat tried to open its new stadium on a positive note, but Sky Blue goalkeeper Karen Bardsley wouldn’t let them.

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.With Ramona Bachmann repeatedly denied from all sorts of angles and distances, the Beat fell 1-0 on Sunday night in the debut of KSU Soccer Stadium, the first U.S. facility built for women’s soccer.

“We’re disappointed we couldn’t give the fans a win to go home with,” Beat coach Gareth O’Sullivan said. “Their keeper had a great game.”

Atlanta (0-4-1) played with great energy in opening its new home, dominating possession for most of the game. However, the Beat couldn’t capitalize on numerous chances, including one-on-ones from Bachmann and Bardsley, which has been a common theme early in the season.

After the game, Bachmann didn’ttake any consolation in her number of opportunities.

“For a forward, you have to score,” the Swiss player said. ” I didn’t.”

That’s because Bardsley was on fire. She forced Bachmann to go over the bar from close range in the the 89th minute, pushed a one-on-one attempt wide in the 62nd minute and made her put another one wide in the 38th minute. She also sat on a header from Stacy Bishop before it could trickle beneath her and into the net, and stopped a long-range effort from Mami Yamaguchi in the first half.

“I like being busy, but not that busy,” said Bardsley, just after Sky Blue coach, Pauliina Miettinen, described her as the best in the world.

The game’s only goal came in the 50th minute on an own-goal by Beat defender Leigh Ann Robinson. A cross came in from Sky Blue right midfielder Heather O’Reilly that bounced dangerously around the box. Robinson tried to drop it back to goalkeeper Brett Maron, but it looped over her and into the net.

“We didn’t feel like we were catching the breaks tonight,” O’Sullivan said.

While the Beat weren’t lucky, the new stadium was a big hit. Built on 21 acres near the Kennesaw State campus, the $16.5 million, 8,300-seat complex was finished less than 18 months later. It will be shared by the Beat and the Owls’ soccer teams. It can also can seat 16,000 for concerts.

“It’s how I dreamed it would be,” Beat owner T. Fitz Johnson said. “[It’s] exactly what he had in mind when we started talking about it 19 months ago.”

It’s another piece in Atlanta’s growing interest in the sport. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber repeatedly has said he hopes to bring in Atlanta as an expansion team. The city has the largest TV market in the country that doesn’t have a team in the league.

Last summer,exhibition games between Club America and A.C. Milan, and Mexico and Venezuela, drew more than 100,000 fans to the Georgia Dome. Another match between Mexico power Club America and an unnamed team is scheduled for July 28 at the Dome.

In addition, Atlanta will be included as a potential host city in the United States’ bid to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. That bid will be given to FIFA, the sport’s governing body, this week.

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