The most significant contribution so far has been by Barnhart, backup to goalkeeper Hope Solo in the World Cup. Barnhart, who had not played since downing the Beat on May 15, recorded a shutout on Wednesday in the Indy's 1-0 win at Boston.
"The World Cup was a remarkable experience," said Barnhart, who wasn't aware she was starting until after the team arrived in Boston. "Just playing at a higher level makes me want to bring it back here and try to be a leader."
Barnhart proved her leadership against Boston, creating a delightful dilemma for Indy head coach Paul Riley. Against Atlanta, does he start Barnhart or Val Henderson, who is 7-1-1?
"I hope they inspire each other," Riley said. "Sunday is up in the air . . . both are very good."
Atlanta has won once this season, a 1-0 victory over Sky Blue on April 16. The Beat's record is 1-10-4, including a loss and tie against the Indy.
The Indy (9-3-3) would like nothing more than to win the remaining three regular-season games to gain a first-round bye in the playoffs, which it will host at PPL Park.
But, Atlanta can surprise a team or two. National team players Carli Loyd and Heather Mitts have rejoined the Beat.
Lloyd, a Rutgers graduate from Delran, is a savvy veteran who can turn a game around as a center midfielder. Mitts is a crafty defender.
Contact Inquirer staff writer
Bill Iezzi at 856-779-3826 or email@example.com.