The Western New York Flash are not dead just yet. The club announced on Tuesday it has joined United Women’s Soccer (UWS) for the 2017 season. UWS is a pro-am league entering its second season. The Flash will play play in Buffalo after spending the last six seasons commuting to Rochester for home matches. Flash ownership sold its NWSL franchise to Steve Malik in January and the team is now the North Carolina Courage.
“We are excited to bring United Women’s Soccer to Buffalo and continue the strong legacy of the Western New York Flash in the women’s game,” Flash vice president Aaran Lines explained. “This team completes the Flash pyramid offering a final destination for collegiate and post-collegiate players in the (Western New York) area looking to continually advance their game.”
The announcement keeps the Flash brand alive but will be of little solace to fans in Rochester who were hoping to open the 2017 NWSL season by celebrating the club’s championship from last October. But those hopes were dashed when the club was sold without warning in early January. Many Flash employees were in the dark about the sale until the final hours before the news broke.
The Flash launched as the Buffalo Flash in 2009 and quickly began winning matches. A W-League semifinal exit in ’09 was followed by three straight league championships and a losing final, a span that saw the team change leagues each season. The Flash jumped to WPS in 2011, signed Marta and Christine Sinclair, and won the championship. After WPS folded they joined WPSL Elite in 2012 and won that title too. The club was a founding member of NWSL in 2013 and won the Shield only to lose in the NWSL Championship to the Portland Thorns. Two disappointing seasons followed before a coaching change to Paul Riley and the coming of age of several young players vaulted the Flash back to championship status.
“It is very gratifying to be able to give back to the game and provide a home for many of our WNY Flash Academy alum, in addition to other western New York area players,” Lines said. “Not only will players be able to further develop their game at the next level, it will also provide high-level soccer for the community and young WNY Flash Academy players to come out and support.”