The Western New York Flash may not be a relocated FC Gold Pride team, but don’t tell Paul Riley’s Philadelphia Independence squad that. The Flash feature eight players who featured with the 2010 WPS champion FC Gold Pride, which defeated Philadelphia all four times the teams met last year. The Flash – featuring that similarly stellar squad of Marta, Christine Sinclair and company – defeated Philadelphia 2-1 on May 29, but the Independence finally found the breakthrough it has been searching for on Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Flash. Danesha Adams’ 90th minute header gave Philadelphia a 1-0 victory and handed Western New York its first loss of the season.
“We played (FC Gold Pride) three times in a month at the end of the season last year and then pretty much half of them coming here – I mean missing some players today, for us I think it was a key match-up,” Adams said. “We have three more games while they get to rest during the World Cup break, so for us it was huge.”
After a sloppy game that produced few obvious chances for either team, a wide open Adams calmly headed the ball into the net from eight yards out to give Philadelphia the victory. Adams, a 64th minute substitute, finished the ball on a right-footed delivery from 75th minute substitute Lianne Sanderson.
“I knew on her left foot that she is not that confident,” Adams said of Sanderson’s play. “I knew she was going to cut it back. My thing was just staying onside and I was wide open on the back post. Paul said to me before the game, ‘today is your day. You are getting a goal.’ My family is here, so for me it was just a good day.”
The goal was Adams’ first of the season and came as a result of the former UCLA forward slipping into Flash defender Whitney Engen’s blind side. Engen, otherwise a brick wall throughout the evening was caught ball watching on the play. The 90th minute goal marked the second-straight week the Flash gave up a late goal, allowing Casey Nogueira to score in the 88th minute on June 3 to give Sky Blue FC a 2-2 draw with Western New York. Flash Head Coach Aaran Lines said that shows a lack of mental strength.
“It would certainly look that way, wouldn’t it? To concede two goals in the last two weeks that late in the game at a time when we’ve got no time to recover is very disappointing,” Lines said. “I don’t think it’s down to a lack of fitness, it’s down to a lack of concentration and awareness.”
Western New York (6-1-2, 20 pts.) suffers its first loss of the season at a time when the team goes on a break until July 9. Meanwhile, Philadelphia (3-2-3, 12 pts.) moves into third place with the victory, two points behind magicJack.
“We felt tonight for the league’s sake that we needed to win this game for WPS to make this interesting,” Riley said. “We have three more games before we play them again now and we could be ahead of them by the time they come back.”