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WPS Extra Time: Flash's one-two punch

Giovanni Albanese Extra Time

Women’s Professional Soccer fans have been spoiled to have the world’s best female footballer for its entire two-plus year tenure. Five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta has proved to be just that, in arguably the deepest women’s league in the world. The Brazilian has won consecutive MVP and Golden Boot awards, and has played in two WPS Championship games, winning in 2010 with FC Gold Pride while capturing the MVP for that game too.

With that resume, Western New York Flash has got to feel they are going to be hosting the WPS Championship this August, undoubtedly leaving fans giddy for a championship not even a year from that franchise winning the W-League title.

Sure, WPS is grateful to have Marta in its league. Sure, WNY Flash fans are grateful to have the world’s top player on its roster in 2011. But there’s one person that has to be more happy for Marta’s presence than any other: Christine Sinclair.

Sinclair, the Wayne Gretzky of soccer in Canada, was a good player for FC Gold Pride in 2009’s inaugural WPS season. She was an all star performer and the team’s leading scorer. But in 2010, with a sidekick in Marta, the Canadian national scored 10 goals and tallied nine helpers, including two goals in the 4-0 WPS Championship win over Philadelphia last September.

When the two were last on the pitch together, Marta was hooking up Sinclair for the championship game’s third goal. It didn’t take long before that connection was back at it.

Marta arrived in Western New York on Monday, April 18. After missing the first game of the season due to passport issues. Six days later, she was dressed when the Flash were at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga., to take on the Atlanta Beat. After sitting for the first half, coach Aaron Lines put the Brazilian in as a halftime sub. Twenty-two minutes later, Sinclair set up Marta to give the Flash a 2-1 lead. Atlanta would later tie it and the match would end in a draw.

Despite not being able to hold onto the lead, the Flash let it be known that the combination — even with the World Cup break — will have a duo of strikers that will be virtually impossible to stop. If Sinclair and Marta are clicking this early on in the season, upon the return of the two when their respective countries World Cup run ends, it’ll be like riding a bike for the two, imposing their will on the opposition’s net for 90 minutes.

Things to look for this week
For the first time in 2011, there will be a full slate of matches, all on Sunday. Of course, the least intriguing of the three contests will be the nation’s TV treat as Game of the Week on FOX. Philadelphia will be in Florida to take on magicJack and Atlanta and Western New York will play the back end of their home-and-home series, this game the home opener for WNY at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester.

Player of the Week
It’s a draw between Jillian Loyden of magicJack (13 saves, clean sheet and a win) and Christine Sinclair (G, A, in 2-2 draw at Atlanta Beat).

Power Rankings
1. Western New York
2. Philadelphia Independence
T-3. Atlanta Beat
T-3. magicJack
5. Boston Breakers
6. Sky Blue FC

Quote of the Week
“…they pressured us and were all over us; we just didn’t handle it well,” courtesy of Boston Breakers coach Tony DiCicco after his club’s 1-0 loss to magicJack in which his club allowed 23 shots, nine of which were on frame.

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