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The Opening Whistle: Flash hosts Sky Blue FC in Friday night clash

Dan Lauletta

In a spring of too much rain, the forecast in Rochester tonight is calling for a 30 percent chance which could be another blow to the Western New York Flash.  Last Sunday, the threat of heavy storms depressed attendance (2,164) for the franchise’s opening WPS match, and the club is cautiously optimistic to draw better against Sky Blue FC despite the short turnaround.  It will be the first of three Friday night matches at Sahlen’s Stadium—the only three in WPS this season.

On the field, the Flash are proving difficult to contend with.  Christine Sinclair is off to her best start in WPS and Alex Morgan has acclimated quickly even while shuttling back and forth to the Canadian National Team.  And that does not even account for Marta, who missed the opener and scored a goal in a relatively sluggish 45 minutes in the second game.  At 2-0-1 the Flash have been as good as expected.

As for Sky Blue, their first 45 minutes of the season showed promise, but the 2-0 lead they had that night against the Independence faded into a 2-2 draw and the follow-ups were 1-0 losses to the Atlanta Beat and Boston Breakers.  Sky Blue’s desperation is not lost on Flash head coach Aaran Lines.

“Sky Blue is going to be hungry for a win and we need to match their intensity,” he said.  “We’re looking forward to another home game, playing in front of our fans again, and we’re certainly going into Friday’s game to win.”

Here’s a closer look at how Week 5 is shaking out:

Friday:  Sky Blue FC (0-2-1, 1 point) at Western New York Flash (2-0-1, 7 points)

The Flash can open up nine points on Sky Blue and despite the season being young, take a fairly significant step towards calling themselves a playoff team.

KEYS TO THE MATCH: Sky Blue has had trouble scoring while everyone has had trouble containing the Flash.  That will make a difficult balance for Sky Blue, who will be looking to somehow win the battle in midfield and not play from their heels.

Sunday:  Atlanta Beat (1-2-1, 4 points) at magicJack (2-0-0, 6 points)

There are rumors of magicJack’s media blackout lifting sometime soon.  Until then, or until they play a road match, all we really know about them is that they’re good.  The Beat came down to earth a bit getting drubbed in Rochester last weekend.  magicJack looks to be better just about everywhere on the pitch so this will be a tall order for the visitors.

KEYS TO THE MATCH: The Beat had some success sitting back and countering the first time around against the Flash.  Look for them to try a similar approach against magicJack.

Sunday:  Boston Breakers (2-2-0, 6 points) at Philadelphia Independence (0-1-1, 1 point)

The Breakers changed up the formation against Sky Blue and came up with a 1-0 win while the Independence emerged from two weeks off and were possibly sluggish (will we ever know?) losing at magicJack.  If this one is as good as the Super Semifinal that Philadelphia won in extra time last fall, FSC viewers are in for a Mother’s Day treat.

KEYS TO THE MATCH:  Breakers finishing.  Plain and simple, they need to finish their chances.

Three Points of Interest

-The US roster for the World Cup will be announced live on ESPN Monday.  You have to think WPS coaches are on the fence about their bubble players.  In fact, a player getting left off the World Cup roster could actually go a long way in sorting out the league.

-Has Alex Morgan’s rookie season already eclipsed those of Amy Rodriguez and Tobin Heath, who preceded her as the first overall pick?

-Anita Asante’s 2010 season was spent getting her knee strong and playing ping pong between WPS teams.  Her performance in Boston last weekend indicated that Asante is back among the very best defenders in the world.

Roster Report:

Sky Blue FC @ Western New York Flash (May 6, 2011)

Sky Blue FC
Injured: Kendall Fletcher, Lindsey Johnson
Not rostered: Kristin Arnold, Michelle Wenino, Erin Guthrie, Alyssa Mautz, Jennie Clark

Western New York Flash
Injured: Alex Sahlen, Kaley Fountain
Not rostered: Yael Averbuch, Christine Sinclair

Atlanta Beat @ magicJack (May 8, 2011)

Atlanta Beat
Not rostered: Angela Salem, Bianca D’Agostino, Katie Fraine, Colleen Flanagan, Vendula Strnadova, Meghan Lenczyk

Unavailable: Sophie Schmidt
Not rostered: Amanda DaCosta, Omolyn Davis, Lisa DeVanna, Brett Maron, Lydia Vandeberg

Boston Breakers @ Philadelphia Independence (May 8, 2011)

Boston Breakers
Injured: Jordan Angeli
Unavailable: Nikki Washington
Questionable: Kasey Moore
Not rostered: Leah Blayney, Ashley Phillips, Elli Reed, Katie Schoepfer, Claire Zimmeck

Philadelphia Independence
Injured: Allison Falk
Unavailable: Veronica Boquete
Not rostered: Lauren Barnes, Gina DiMartino, Lauren Fowlkes, Robyn Jones


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