April 17, 2011

Flash Play Opener at Boston Today

The Western New York Flash will make their WPS debut today, traveling to Cambridge, Massachusetts to play the Boston Breakers. For the Breakers, it is their home opener.

The newest entry in WPS has a lot of star power on its side, but not all of those stars will be in the house on Sunday. Brazilian star Marta and the recently signed Maurine will apparently not arrive in Buffalo until Monday, thus missing today's match.

Even without the talented Brazilian players, WNY has a lot of talent. With Canadian star Christine Sinclair and USWNT striker Alex Morgan up front, they won't be lacking firepower. In fact, forward is the Flashes' deepest position when you add the likes of Gemma Davison and Kelly Parker.

With Yael Averbuch listed as being unavailable for this match, the midfield might be a bit thin. Still, Swedish captain Caroline Seger will help control the tempo of the match in the middle and Becky Edwards, a fine defensive player, comes over from Gold Pride where she had a solid rookie season.

We may be seeing the two best back lines in the league this afternoon. Western New York brought in three quarters of Gold Pride's starting defense from last season, Candace Chapman, Ali Riley, and Kandace Wilson. They are joined by former Red Star Whitney Engen and Gina Lewandowski, a veteran of the Frauen Bundesliga.

The fourth member of that Gold Pride back line, Rachel Buehler, joins the Breakers' defense for 2011 that already includes Alex Scott, Amy LePeilbet, and Stephanie Cox. For depth, you can add Kasey Moore, who scored in last week's opener, and Ifeoma Dieke of the Scottish National Team.

Boston will certainly miss Jordan Angeli, one the most talented young players in the league. Angeli suffered a season ending injury in the opener last week. But the Breakers still have veteran Leslie Osborne and Keelin Winters, a rookie out of Portland who scored in her WPS debut a week ago.

The Breakers have quite an attack of their own with English veteran Kelly Smith, USWNT players Lauren Cheney and Kelley O'Hara. Smith is always among the league leaders in goal scoring and must be accounted for at all times on the field.

The goalkeeping matchup should be an interesting one with two netminders that had exceptional rookie seasons in 2010. Alyssa Naeher returns for the Breakers after posting three shutouts and a sterling 9-4-2 mark in goal last season. Ashlyn Harris comes over to the Flash from the Washington Freedom, where she earned four shutouts in just nine matches down the stretch.

It is expected to be a very windy day at Cambridge, which should present quite a challenge to these two talented teams. It should be an exciting match between two teams that are likely to be in the title hunt at the end of the season.