EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. — Western Massachusetts soccer fans have been witness to some high-caliber soccer over the years.
Area fans have seen their local sides take on both the New England Revolution and the Chinese Women’s National Team in previous seasons. This afternoon, another premier team comes to the Pioneer Valley as the New England Mutiny are set to square off against the Western New York Flash.
The Flash come into today’s game just a point behind the WPSL Elite League-leading Chicago Red Stars in the league standings. Not only do they bring with them a top record in the league, they also will have two US Women’s National Team players in tow in Lori Lindsey and Meghan Klingenberg.
“Obviously both players are very experienced with their national team and WPS experience,” Western New York Flash coach Aaran Lines said. “They’re coming from the best training environment in the country right now with the U.S. Women’s National Team. They want to be here and they want to play. That’s very encouraging for us.”
Lindsey, a key substitute on last summer’s Women’s World Cup runners-up, has made 30 appearances with the national team and has scored a goal with the U.S. side. Klingenberg’s tenure is far more abbreviated than her league teammate at just two caps for the USWNT.
The Flash won’t have Lindsey and Klingenberg at the disposal for long, as after Sunday’s game against the Mutiny the pair will return back to the national team in preparation of this summer’s Olympics in London.
But fans can expect an exciting brand of soccer this afternoon. Lines says that fans can expect to see smart, well-played soccer from his squad.
“You’re going to see us take the ball down the field and play the game the right way,” Lines said. “We want to make sure that we’re well-organized out there.”
Lines coached the Western New York Flash to the 2011 WPS title with a roster that featured stars in Brazil’s Marta and the U.S. Alex Morgan. This season has certainly been a shift in personnel as both Marta and Morgan left the team this winter.
“Obviously last year we had one of the best rosters ever put together, but to put this team together and see the way it’s been playing and get results, it’s very fulfilling,” Lines said. “Last year, coaching a team with players of that caliber there’s a certain amount of pressure there. This year, the pressure’s off a little, with the young players that we have.”
Kickoff for this evening’s game is slated for 5:00 p.m. ET.
HOME SWEET HOME:
The Mutiny return home from a four-game road trip that saw them go 1-3 as they visited the league’s western reaches (Western New York, Indiana, and Chicago) and the Boston Breakers. However, there are certainly some things to be optimistic about with the team.
New England held an early lead on Wednesday night against the Breakers with Riley Houle scoring a goal in the opening minutes. That early lead was the first this season for a ‘amateur’ squad against a former WPS squad.
While out on the road, Kate Howarth continued her scoring spree netting a quartet of goals, including a game-winner against FC Indiana in the 90th minute on June 14. The University of Miami standout leads the team in goals (5) and points (13).
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