April 24, 2011

Flash and Beat To Battle for 1st Place

The Western New York Flash are in Atlanta to take on the Beat in a 6 pm eastern time match today. We will likely see Marta's debut with the Flash in this match.

Both teams are coming off victories. The Flash defeated Boston 2-1 last weekend on goals from Christine Sinclair and Gemma Davison. Meanwhile, the Beat edged Sky Blue on a goal by Meghan Lenczyk to even their record at 1-1. The young Atlanta squad will be looking to build on that win, but this week will be a tougher assignment.

Indeed, Western New York looked to be in mid-season form against the Breakers and Brazilian stars Marta and Maurine didn't arrive until after that match.

The Flashes' speed is likely to cause all kinds of problems for the Beat's defense. With Alex Morgan and Marta at forward, the Flash are plenty fast up front, which seems to perfectly complement Sinclair's precision runs. Then the Beat will have to deal with a pair of speedy outside backs as well, with Kandace Wilson and Ali Riley.

On top of it all, the Flashes' midfield of Becky Edwards, Brittany Bock, and Caroline Seger seemed to be well in control of last week's match and Maurine can now be added to that mix.

Atlanta will need to be accurate with their passes and can ill afford to make turnovers in their own end of the field. The back line of Heather Mitts, Cat Whitehill, Kat Reynolds, and Keeley Dowling will surely be tested a good portion of the match. Indeed, it will need to be quite the team effort to keep the Flash from scoring multiple goals in this one.

One question to be answered is who James Galanis will have in goal for the Beat. Allison Whitworth started the first match, but because of a red card, Ali Lipsher got the start last week and earned player of the week honors in the process.

The Beat have scored a goal in each of their two previous matches, but one was a penalty by Carli Lloyd. Lenczyk's goal last weekend should boost her confidence and Kristina Larsen has been taking a lot of shots, although she is still lacking a goal.

Last week, Atlanta started a 4-5-1 formation with Kylie Wright, Lori Chalupny, Megan Jesolva, India Trotter, and Lloyd in the midfield. I found it a bit perplexing that when this week's roster report came out that Jesolva was listed as not rostered for this match, given she has shown quite a bit of promise and it is a home match where 18 players can be active.

Unless there is a tie, one of these teams will finish the evening in first place. The match will be nationally televised on FSC.

Atlanta Beat
Coach: James Galanis
Record: 1-1-0
Goalkeepers: Allison Lipsher, Allison Whitworth.
Defenders: Keeley Dowling, Colleen Flanagan, Analisa Marquez, Heather Mitts, Katherine Reynolds, Cat Whitehill.
Midfielders: Lori Chalupny, Bianca D'Agostino, Carli Lloyd, Vendula Strnadova, India Trotter, Kylie Wright.
Forwards: Kristina Larsen, Meghan Lenczyk, Lauren Sesselmann, Lyndsey Patterson.
Not active: Katie Bethke, Katie Fraine, Megan Jesolva, Angela Salem.

Western New York Flash
Coach: Aaran Lines
Record: 1-0-0
Goalkeepers: Brittany Cameron, Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Candace Chapman, Whitney Engen, Ali Riley, Kandace Wilson.
Midfielders: Brittany Bock, Becky Edwards, Beverly Goebel, Maurine, Caroline Seger.
Forwards: Gemma Davison, Kaley Fountain, Marta, Alex Morgan, Kelly Parker, Christine Sinclair.
Not active: Yael Averbuch (unavailable), Ashleigh Bowers, Kim Brandao, Gina Lewandowski (injury), Alex Sahlen (injury), Julianne Sitch, McCall Zerboni (injury).