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Lines concedes Flash’s playoff hopes over after loss

The struggles of Western New York Flash’s inconsistent and underwhelming season continued on Friday with a 4-2 loss to the last-place Boston Breakers.

And after the match, Flash coach Aaran Lines, who has guided the club to four straight finals in four different leagues, conceded that his currently sixth-place team won’t even make the playoffs this year.

“It’s not going to happen for the Flash,” Lines said on Friday, via the Democrat & Chronicle’s Jeff DiVeronica. “At this point it’s about finishing up the season with a bit of pride, players playing for jobs next year.”

With Abby Wambach injured and not enough support for Carli Lloyd, Aaran Lines has watched the WNY Flash struggle this season. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

With Abby Wambach injured and not enough support for Carli Lloyd, Aaran Lines has watched the WNY Flash struggle this season. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Despite the grim outlook, that’s an eye-opening admission from Lines.

By all realistic outlooks, the Flash are out of the playoffs. They are four points out of the final playoff spot with four games to play. Western New York would likely need to win all four of its final games to stand a chance, but the schedule was and still is favorable for that, on paper.

Western New York ends the season at Sky Blue FC, at Boston, home to Sky Blue FC and at Chicago, a team the Flash are chasing. Including Friday’s loss against Boston, four of the Flash’s final five games are against two of the three teams at the bottom of the league table. That’s a far more favorable schedule than Washington, Chicago and Portland — the three other teams fighting for the final two playoff spots — but Friday’s loss proves that ‘easier’ games won’t come easy.

Lines’ comments surely could include some gamesmanship to see if Chicago and Washington bite on the idea that they shouldn’t continue to worry about the Flash (they won’t).

But it more likely cements a feeling that the team has collectively had for much of the season: It just wasn’t their year. They lost their No. 1 and No. 2 goalkeepers to knee injuries. Half of their 2013 league-leading defense didn’t return. Abby Wambach has played in only six games this season due to injuries.

And, as the Flash will remind you, they essentially did not receive a Canadian allocated player and they traded away Veronica Perez, their allocated player from Mexico. That’s on top of only receiving two U.S. national team players for the second straight season, a point of major frustration in Western New York (of course, those are Wambach and Lloyd, who has been the all-league engine for the team). Outside of the consistent Sam Kerr, international signings haven’t panned out. Emma Kete was waived, Tiegen Allen has hardly played and Spanish trio Adriana Martin, Vicky Losada and Sonia Bermudez rotate into the lineup with flashes of brilliance but little consistency.

The Flash are the closest thing to a mini-dynasty that U.S. women’s professional soccer has seen, in large part because the best teams of the past never lasted more than a year or two (Pali/LA Blues might argue with that statement). After four straight league finals, an underwhelming season such as this is cause for a major overhaul in Western New York.

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